Durham Police Charge Leader and Members of Cult with Murder

in Homicide, on

Durham police arrested the purported leader of a religious cult this week after finding the remains of a 5-year-old boy buried in the back yard of a house in East Durham. A day earlier, investigators had found a woman’s body there as well. The 27-year-old leader of the group has been charged with first-degree murder in connection with both deaths.

The house had been rented by the suspect’s mother and step-father. Police say neither is suspected of involvement in the crimes.

The group police have labeled as a cult was affiliated with Black Hebrews. The members of the small religious community were apparently the suspect and six others, five of whom are women in polygamous relationships with the suspect. All are now in custody.

One of those women was also the 5-year-old victim’s mother. The 25-year-old woman had told authorities she had left her son with an acquaintance in late February. Investigators reported that no one they spoke with had seen the boy since October 2010.

The other victim was a Washington woman who had last been seen by her family in December. She had traveled to North Carolina to visit the cult leader. Her family reported her missing in early February.

When officers went to the suspect’s home, they spoke with one of his “wives.” The woman told investigators that the suspect had killed the boy and that the boy’s mother had killed the woman from Washington as the woman tried to escape. Authorities arrested the suspect in April on charges of kidnapping and assaulting the “wife.”

During the months that followed, investigators found evidence of violence in the suspect’s house, but they found nothing to confirm the allegations of murder. The discovery of the bodies not only provided the evidence needed to charge him with murder, but also led to the surrender and arrest of the six other members of his group.

Source: Raleigh News & Observer, “Cult leader Pete Moses Jr. charged in boy’s death,” Thomasi Mcdonald and Mandy Locke, 06/10/2011