Local News

Mother feels missing Durham woman is dead

Posted March 4, 2011 12:22 p.m. EST
Updated March 8, 2011 7:34 p.m. EST

— The mother of a missing Durham woman said Friday that she doesn't believe her daughter is alive.

Durham police said Thursday that they were searching for Antoinetta Yvonne McKoy, and they linked her disappearance to the search for 5-year-old Jadon Higganbothan.

Investigators said McKoy lived with Jadon and his mother, Vania Rae Sisk, in a Durham home before Sisk left with members of a religious sect for Colorado in recent weeks.

McKoy hasn't been seen since December, and her family in Washington, D.C., reported her missing a month ago.

"Deep down in my heart, I feel that my daughter is not here on Earth," Yvonne McKoy said in a telephone interview.

Durham police have searched the home at 2109 Pear Tree Lane several times in recent days for evidence. During one search, investigators found a man wanted on outstanding weapons charges hiding in a cabinet.

Search warrants from the Teller County Sheriff's Office in Colorado state that Sisk moved to the Colorado Springs area with members of the Black Hebrews, a religious sect that believes it descends directly from the ancient tribes of Israel.

Colorado authorities said they became involved in the case last week when Durham police called to ask them about the whereabouts of Jadon and Sisk.

Authorities went to a Woodland Park, Colo., home on Feb. 23 to ask Sisk about the missing boy, but neither she nor her son was there. Ten other children were taken from the home and placed in the custody of the Teller County, Colo., Department of Social Services.

Sisk has since spoken to authorities in Colorado and Durham police. She told local investigators that she had left Jadon with an acquaintance on Feb. 20, police said, but her statements were inconsistent.

According to the warrants, a confidential Durham police informant who is a former member of the Black Hebrews told investigators that Jadon was shot by a member of the group in October while they were still in North Carolina. The body was wrapped in plastic and stuffed into a suitcase, and the suitcase was disposed of a few days later, the warrants state.

The informant also told police that McKoy got into an argument with a member of the Black Hebrews in December, and she was beaten up and shot to death by members of the group. They later disposed of her body, the warrants state.

"I feel like I'm lost. They took something from me that was very, very precious to me, very precious," Yvonne McKoy said.

She described her daughter as a "happy young lady" and said she was "full of joy, full of life, full of inspiration."

McKoy said the group her daughter lived with in Durham revered a man in their group.

"They worshiped him like he was the Lord. The women went to work, and they brought him the money home," she said.

Bobby Brown, a private investigator in Colorado hired by Sisk's stepmother to help in the search for Jadon, also said the group treated the man as a prophet.

"I believe, in Vania's words, that some of them call him a prophet. Some of them call him the apostle. Some of them call him the anointed one," said Brown, who regularly appears on the cable television show "Dog the Bounty Hunter."

Woman fears for daughter's safety

A Durham woman said Friday that she fears for the safety for her 7-year-old daughter, who she says was among the children taken into protective custody in Colorado.

Regina Olivieri said Friday that her ex-husband married a member of the Black Hebrews, and she said she hasn't been told where her daughter is being held. She said she's fearful of any contact between the girl and the Black Hebrews in the wake of Jadon's disappearance.

"I sympathize with the family of this little boy and hope that he is found," Olivieri said. "I just don't want this to happen to another child."

The family of the girl's father said she was never in the house in Colorado.

Anyone with information on Jadon's or McKoy's whereabouts is asked to call the Durham Police Department at 919-560-4440, extension 29335, or Crime Stoppers at 919-683-1200.