In Durham, NC a fringe religious leader named Peter Lucas Moses, Jr. has been charged with the murder of Yvonne McKoy and 4 year-old Jadon Higganbothan. Moses allegedly killed Higganbothan last October because he thought the child was gay. McKoy, 28, was slain a few months later for being infertile.
Prosecutors said the case came to police’s attention in February when a young woman escaped from a house … where she had lived with McKoy, Jadon, eight other children and three women charged in connection with the two slayings … The woman, whose identity wasn’t released, told police that two people had died at the house, Durham County District Attorney Tracey Cline said.
Higganbothan was the only child in the house who wasn’t fathered by Moses, 27, although Higganbothan’s mother, Vania Rea Sisk, 25, lived with the group as one of Moses’ common-law wives. Sisk, along with the other women, referred to Moses as “Lord” and took turns sharing the master bedroom with Moses.
“Moses subscribed to the tenets of the Black Hebrews,” the News Observer reports, “a radical sect that believes a race war is coming that will leave blacks dominant and supreme, according to court documents … Homosexuality, [District Attorney Tracey Cline] contended, is frowned upon by the Black Hebrews.”
Prosecutors said Moses believed Higganbothan might be gay because the boy’s father had abandoned him and Sisk. When Higganbothan swatted another child’s behind, the informant told police, it seemed to confirm Moses’ belief. Moses allegedly began screaming at Sisk, “I told you to get rid of him!” and ordered two of the women to help him dispose of the child.
The informant described a horrific scene: after the women carried audio speakers into the garage, Moses played a loud music track featuring the Lord’s Prayer in Hebrew and shot Higganbothan with a gun belonging to Sisk.
Approximately two months later, the informant told police, Moses killed McKoy in a similar manner.
The victim’s family members told WRAL that McKoy had known Moses in high school. After Moses invited her to live with his group, they couldn’t contact her. McKoy seemed content with her living arrangements until she learned that she couldn’t have children.
[McKoy] wrote dairy entries begging “Lord” [Moses] not to kill her, prosecutors said.
On the day she died, prosecutors said, McKoy ran to a neighbor’s house and asked to use a cell phone to call her mother in Washington, D.C. The neighbor said she didn’t call police because she thought that it was a group home and that McKoy might be mentally disturbed.
Police discovered McKoy’s remains in June, alongside Higganbothan’s. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for Moses, while Moses’ self-described “wives” have been brought up on charges ranging from first-degree murder to accessory to murder. The group’s children are currently in foster homes.
Photo credit: Marcin Wichary