Cult leader linked to missing boy appears in court

Peter Moses
May 9, 2011 9:00:00 PM PDT
Suspected cult leader Peter Moses, who police believe is linked to the disappearance of a woman and a 4-year-old boy, appeared in court Tuesday on unrelated charges.

Moses, 27, faces numerous charges including one count of second-degree kidnapping, one count of assault by pointing a gun, one count of assault on a female, one count of communicating threats and failure to appear in court on earlier charges.

During his court appearance Tuesday, a judge raised Moses' bond from $50,000 to $75,000, saying the charges against him are very serious.

Defense attorneys had asked the judge to lower his bond to $30,000 or $40,000 and offered to place Moses on electronic house arrest. They criticized prosecutors for not presenting enough evidence to hold their client in jail.

"The bottomline is, the state rushed to arrest this man," attorney Woodrena Baker-Harrell told the court during the hearing. "They arrested. They rushed to indict him. They indicted him. And now we're in court and we still don't have a single shred of evidence against this man."

According to search warrants obtained by ABC11, Moses - who is believed to be the leader of the "Black Hebrew Israelites" cult - is possibly a suspect in the death of 4-year-old Jadon Higganbothan, who was last seen in October 2010. A second missing person, 28-year-old Antoinetta McKoy, is also believed to be dead.

A police informant claims Moses killed Higganbothan and then ordered Higganbothan's mother, 25-year-old Vania Sisk, to kill McKoy. No bodies have been found.

Moses and Sisk were arrested during a raid last month and have been asked to submit DNA to investigators. They both submitted hair, saliva and fingerprints.

Sisk is charged with failure to appear in court on an earlier misdemeanor marijuana possession charge. The state has yet to bring charges against Moses and Sisk in connection with the disappearances of Higganbothan and McKoy.

Higganbothan and McKoy reportedly lived in a home with Sisk and several other women and children, who were members of Moses' so-called cult, before the group suddenly moved to Colorado.

Authorities have searched a Durham residence on Pear Tree Lane several times looking for evidence that could help them crack the case. Police searched a second home on So Hi Drive Monday in addition to a sewer system in the neighborhood. It is not known if anything was found.

A Durham search warrant made public last month says blood, a spent bullet, and shell casings were found at the home in a previous search. The warrant also states there were signs of "overt cleaning in the areas of the residence where these crimes were stated to have occurred."

Click here to read the warrant (.pdf)

Meanwhile, Durham police continue to maintain their investigation is a missing person's case.

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