Local News

Two members of suspected Durham cult released from jail

Posted June 15, 2012

— Two of seven members of a suspected Durham cult were released from jail Thursday after authorities dropped charges against them.

Sheilda Harris and Sheila Moses are the mother and sister of Pete Moses, 27, the leader of the suspected cult who pleaded guilty earlier this week to killing Antoinetta McKoy, 28, and Jadon Higganbothan, 4, in 2010.

Authorities dropped felony accessory after the fact charges against the two women, but it was not clear why.

District Attorney Leon Stanback said Friday he couldn't comment about the dismissals because other cases were pending. However, he said the decision to drop the charges was not part of the plea agreement with Pete Moses.

Sheilda Harris and Sheila Moses Charges dropped against two in suspected cult case

Jadon's father, Jamiel Higganbothan, said Friday he is OK with the charges being dropped, adding that he thinks authorities "got the people who were directly responsible."

Attorneys for the mother and daughter said they aren't sure why the charges were dismissed, but their clients are pleased with the outcome.

"(Sheilda Harris) is very happy to be free, and she feels justice has been served. She is grateful to the district attorney’s office for doing the right thing," said attorney Elizabeth Koch.

Mani Dexter, who represents Sheila Moses, said, "This is a long time coming, and I'm glad justice is done."

McKoy's and Jadon's bodies were found last June buried behind a house on Ashe Street in Durham where Pete 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 Pete 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.

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.

Sheilda Harris and Sheila Moses Charges dropped against two in suspected cult case

"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'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.

Pete Moses' brother, P. Leonard Moses, is charged as an accessory in McKoy's death.

A woman who left the group told police that Pete Moses killed Jadon in October 2010 because he thought the child was gay. Prosecutors said in court that Pete 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 Pete 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.


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  • NCgirl87 Jun 15, 2012

    OneLove- thats so lame how that happens. they keep one inside and let 2 out even tho ALL might be guilty just bc they get more information from one guy.

    UGHH!!!! we need some real justice here for the sake of the people who have lost thier lives thru all this.

  • bluewind Jun 15, 2012

    of course THEY are pleased!

  • eyeoneastsky Jun 15, 2012

    What Moses has done through this plea agreement is to give these 2 women a pardon and ensure that he will remain the King of their hearts. He is still in control and his "messiah" delusion is secure. He will be able to control more people while in prison through his 2 followers/worshipers. He has saved them from prison and now they owe him.

  • DontVote4LiarsCheatsOrThieves Jun 15, 2012

    "Authorities dropped felony accessory after the fact charges against the two women."


    "Attorneys for the mother and daughter said they aren't sure why the charges were dismissed..."

    Even their own attorneys don't know why charges were dropped.

    Wonderful - NOT!!!

    Had that poor tiny boy had an attorney, he probably wouldn't be dead now.

  • promethazine codeine lover Jun 15, 2012

    plea bargains at it's finest.

  • Dark_Horse Jun 15, 2012

    "Are our DA's so poor at their jobs that this is the only way to get convictions?"

    Look everybody, seems that we have a law scholar in our midsts... Please, tell us how YOU would have prosecuted these people?

  • OneLove Jun 15, 2012

    NCgirl87 ~ my guess is Moses said he'd talk IF they dropped charges against his mother & sister.

  • Leftwing Jun 15, 2012

    Amazing that this guy gets life in prison for providing info on the other cult members. Our legal system is such a mess. This monster kills a little boy, an innocent - and we have to pay to keep him alive for the next 60 years? Are our DA's so poor at their jobs that this is the only way to get convictions? We are hopeless as a society.

  • NCgirl87 Jun 15, 2012

    so why exactly were their charges dropped? did i miss something?

  • dennis23 Jun 15, 2012

    I wonder who thinks up this cult stuff and how do they get people to follow the leader. How do they decide if its a cult or a club? I wonder if this cult had some kind of religion or did the female members have to sleep with the leader as a form of worship. People are nuts.