Local/State

DA seeks death penalty for 'cult' leader

Friday, July 08, 2011

Prosecutors said Friday they intend to seek the death penalty for a Durham man accused in the killings of a woman and 4-year-old boy.

Peter Moses Jr., 27, was indicted last month on murder charges in connection with the deaths of 4-year-old Jadon Higganbothan and 28-year-old Antoinetta McKoy.

Their remains were found buried plastic bags by a plumber working in the backyard of a home in the 2600 block of Ashe Street last month.

Along with Moses Jr., Higganbothan's mother 25-year-old Vania Sisk, 40-year-old Lavada Quinzetta Harris and 40-year-old Larhonda Renee Smith have been indicted on murder charges in connection with McKoy's death.

McKoy and Higganbothan lived with a polygamist religious group led by Moses known as the "Black Hebrew Israelites."

In court Friday, Durham District Attorney Tracey Cline said Moses believed the boy was homosexual and that was unacceptable to his religious beliefs. She said Moses shot Higganbothan in the garage of a home on Pear Tree Lane in front of his mother.

In order to cover the sound of the gunshot, Cline said Moses played the Lord's Prayer in Hebrew over loudspeakers in the garage. A confidential informant told investigators she heard the child screaming before the shot was fired.

Cline said investigators believe McKoy was killed because she tried to escape from the group and it feared she would tell police about the murder. Cline said McKoy was dragged back into the Pear Tree Lane home after the attempt.

"Once she got in the front door, the beating started," said Cline. "Moses began to beat her and other ladies in the house began to beat her and this beating went on for most of the day."

Cline said Moses then ordered Sisk to shoot McKoy with the same gun used to kill her son.

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Tags:
durham county, homicide, peter moses, durham police, local/state
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