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Durham sect leader pleads guilty to killing boy, woman

Posted June 11, 2012

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— The leader of a religious sect charged in the deaths of a Durham boy and a woman pleaded guilty Monday to killing them.

Peter Lucas Moses, 27, pleaded guilty to two counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of Jadon Higganbothan, 4, and Antoinetta Yvonne McKoy, 28.

Their bodies were found last June buried behind a house on Ashe Street in Durham where Moses' mother, Sheilda Harris, used to live. Both had been shot in the head, according to autopsy reports.

Prosecutors had planned to seek the death penalty against Moses, but they agreed to a sentence of life in prison without parole if he cooperates with investigators and testifies against other sect members. He will be sentenced after their trials.

Harris, Moses' brother, P. Leonard Moses, and his sister, Sheila Moses, are charged as accessories in McKoy's death.

Jadon's mother, Vania Sisk, and two other women who lived with Peter Moses, Larhonda Renee Smith and Lavada Quinzetta Harris, have been charged with murder in McKoy's death and as accessories in Jadon's death.

Jamiel Higganbothan said he was furious that prosecutors went ahead with the plea deal for Pete Moses after he told them he was opposed to the offer of a life sentence.

"Me and my family wanted the death penalty,” Higganbothan said, noting that he initially agreed to the deal but later told prosecutors he had changed his mind.

“I’m really not OK with it at all,” he said of Pete Moses spending his life in prison.

Authorities have said Pete Moses led a religious group of women and children who called him “Lord” and feared him. They lived together in a home on Pear Tree Lane in southeast Durham.

Jadon Higganbothan and Antoinetta McKoy Father of slain boy upset with sect leader's plea deal

A woman who left the group told police that Moses killed Jadon in October 2010 because he thought the child was gay. Prosecutors said in court that Moses became concerned that Jadon had touched one of his sons inappropriately, and they said that he took Jadon to the garage and shot him.

The informant also told police that Moses ordered that McKoy be killed two months later when he learned she couldn't have children and wanted to leave the group. Prosecutors said she was forced back inside the house as she tried to run away and was later killed in a bathroom.

Durham police tracked the group to Colorado, where they moved in early 2011 and had Sisk return to Durham to answer questions about her missing son. During one search of the Pear Tree Lane house, police found Pete Moses hiding in a cabinet.

During another search, investigators dug a bullet out of a wall that had been patched over and found evidence of human blood and signs that someone had cleaned up in an attempt to hide a crime.

Investigators said they found Pete Moses' fingerprints on the tape securing the trash bags in which the bodies were buried, and they wanted high-quality prints of Harris, Leonard Moses and Smith to compare to other partial fingerprints they had found.

Colorado police found a .22-caliber handgun on the roof of the townhouse where the group had been staying, and Durham authorities said Monday that tests showed the handgun was used to kill both Jadon and McKoy.

61 Comments

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  • piene2 Jun 12, 6:45 p.m.

    "May this sect leader get life in prison and no parole.
    charmcclainlovesdogs2"

    Had you read the story, you would know that is the case.

  • charmcclainlovesdogs2 Jun 12, 3:08 p.m.

    May this sect leader get life in prison and no parole.

  • piene2 Jun 12, 12:36 p.m.

    "Gnathostomata said, “There is only one Lord, and this is not Him.”

    How do you *know* this (or anyone else claiming god-hood) is not your guy? Really. What investigation did you do?

    And, what if you’re too busy to meet him? (or her?)
    99"

    I read here that there are about 3,500 gods and I'm sure every one of their followrers will tell you that their god is the only true one. Just pick one that you like and go with it.

  • JustOneGodLessThanU Jun 12, 9:08 a.m.

    Gnathostomata said, “There is only one Lord, and this is not Him.”

    How do you *know* this (or anyone else claiming god-hood) is not your guy? Really. What investigation did you do?

    And, what if you’re too busy to meet him? (or her?)

  • JustOneGodLessThanU Jun 12, 9:05 a.m.

    How is this any different than those other "inspired" texts that call for similar actions against disobedient children & wives, adulterers, non-believers, Sabbath breakers, etc.? (John 15:6, 2 Chronicles 15:13, Leviticus, etc.)

  • piene2 Jun 12, 8:29 a.m.

    "Piene, there's more than one type of cost. It's not always monetary. It costs plenty to let these murderers live.
    storchheim"

    And just what do you reckon that cost to be?

  • sbr1963 Jun 11, 6:42 p.m.

    There should have been no plea deal for such a heinous crime. No wonder people keep doing things like this, they don't really get punished. Life in prison, three squares and a roof over your head at the expense of the law abiding!

  • storchheim Jun 11, 6:10 p.m.

    Piene, there's more than one type of cost. It's not always monetary. It costs plenty to let these murderers live.

  • kenloe3981 Jun 11, 5:54 p.m.

    This guy is gona tell on everyone else and he will get no more than 15 yrs ........Anyone want to bet $100 on it? thats how it works in Durham.....the D.A and judges have no spine and make everyone happy by getting a conviction.

  • Milkman Jun 11, 5:41 p.m.

    I really wish the DA's office kept in better contact with the victims families on deals like these. They probably do in other counties. This is Durham after all.

    The death penalty in NC is a joke. My uncle's killer has been on death row since 1991. Children born that week can drink legally! His appeals were exhausted when Easley was in office, Easley said he couldn't sign the order because he was Attorney General during the process (at least he gave the courtsey of a response), he could have turned the authority to sign the final order over to the Lt. Governor, but did not. Purdue hasn't returned our letters. We can only hope McCrory will push things forward.

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