Police charge 7 people in 'cult' murder case

L to r from top to bottom: Peter Moses, Vania Sisk, Lavada Harris, Sheilda Harris, Larhonda Smith (Images courtesy Durham County Sheriff's Office)
June 7, 2011 9:00:00 PM PDT
Police announced seven murder charges in connection with a missing persons' case following the discovery of skeletal remains Wednesday. Suspected cult leader, 27-year-old Peter Moses, is among those charged.

The charges are related to the murder of 28-year-old Antoinetta McKoy, who was reported missing in February and was last seen in early December 2010.

A plumber and a neighbor discovered the remains in the backyard of a home in the 2600 block of Ashe Street, which is located a few miles from a home on Pear Tree Lane where McKoy was last seen alive.

The plumber told a 911 operator that they uncovered something buried in a plastic bag after the homeowner placed a service call about what they assumed was a sewage problem.

"We see something buried in a plastic bag ... it has a horrible smell ... and we don't think it's an animal or nothing, it seems like it could possibly be another human," the worker told the 911 operator.

Click here to listen to the 911 call

A medical examiner later confirmed that the remains were human.

A neighbor on Ashe Street told ABC11 Eyewitness News the remains appeared to be a human arm, and police say they believe the remains belong to McKoy. ABC11 sources confirm the Ashe Street home was once the rental property of Moses' mother.

Wednesday during a news conference at the scene, Durham Police Chief Jose Lopez announced the newest charges related to McKoy's murder. However, 4-year-old Jadon Higganbothan, who disappeared around the same time as McKoy, remains missing.

Police escorted Moses to Durham police headquarters for questioning before announcing the latest developments. Also charged are Higganbothan's mother, 25-year-old Vania Sisk, 40-year-old Lavada Quinzetta Harris, 56-year-old Sheilda Evelyn Harris, 21-year-old P. Leonard Moses, 20-year-old Sheila Falisha Moses and 40-year-old Larhonda Renee Smith.

Quinzetta Harris, Pete Moses, Sisk and Smith are in police custody. Moses was arrested Wednesday evening at the Durham County Jail and Harris was arrested during a traffic stop at Fayetteville Street and NC 147 Wednesday evening.

Sheilda Harris, Shelia Moses and P. Leonard Moses turned themselves in to police Wednesday evening.

During their first court appearances on Thursday, all seven were denied bond. A probable cause hearing will be held on June 30.

Sisk was arrested in April during a raid at a Durham home but posted bond. At that time, she was charged with misdemeanor marijuana possession. Sisk told police she last saw her son in Durham on February 20, when she left him with an acquaintance.

However, the last confirmed sighting of the 4-year-old was October 2010.

According to search warrants obtained by ABC11 in April, investigators had suspected Moses was involved with the disappearances and deaths of Higganbothan and McKoy. The woman and child, along with several other women and children lived at the Pear Tree Lane residence with Moses and were members of the "Black Hebrew Israelites."

Moses is believed to be the group's leader.

During April's search of the Pear Tree Lane property, investigators recovered traces of blood, a spent bullet, and shell casings.

In addition to the murder charges filed Wednesday against Moses, he faces charges that were filed in April. Those include 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 not related to the April charges.

Classifieds | Report A Typo |  Send Tip |  Get Alerts | See Click Fix
Follow @abc11 on Twitter  |  Become a fan on Facebook


Load Comments