DURHAM — Accused polygamous cult leader Peter Lucas Moses Jr. pleaded guilty Monday to the murders of 28-year-old Antoinetta Yvonne McKoy and 5-year-old Jadon Higganbothan.
Moses, who police say led a small religious sect called the Black Hebrews, had been charged along with his mother, brother and sister; Jadons mother, Vania Rae Sisk; and two female cult members in the killings.
He will serve two consecutive life sentences without the possibility of parole, according to the terms of his pending sentence.
The Durham district attorneys office dropped a request for the death penalty in exchange for Moses guilty plea and promise to cooperate and testify truthfully in any matter related to the homicides.
The case was heard before Superior Court Judge Henry W. Hight Monday morning. The other six defendants were scheduled for court appearances Monday, but their cases were not heard. After Moses gave his plea, the judge moved onto another matter that took the rest of the day.
Moses, who is taking prescription drugs for bipolar disorder, has a history of hurting women and children, according to court records.
In 2004, when Moses lived with his mother and younger siblings in Raleigh, police arrested him and a juvenile for sexually abusing a 12-year-old girl, according to court records. Moses pleaded guilty to assault on a female and got two years of probation.
The following year, a report of violence in Moses Raleigh apartment again surfaced. Moses was charged with assaulting his mother and his younger brother and sister. Those charges were dismissed.
The bodies of McKoy and Higganbothan were found wrapped in plastic and buried outside a house at 2218 Ashe St. in Durham last June.
In February, search warrants revealed Moses fingerprint was found on clear tape used to wrap Jadons body. The search warrants also requested major case impressions prints of the entire hand, from fingertip to base of the palm for three of the other six people charged in the killings: Moses mother, Sheilda Evelyn Harris; Moses brother, P. Leonard Moses; and Larhonda Renee Smith.
Along with those three, Moses and Sisk, Lavada Quinzetta Harris and Sheila Falisha Moses are charged in the deaths.
Police say Sisk pulled the trigger to kill McKoy.
McKoy, who had been reported missing by her family in Washington in December 2010, was shot twice in the head and once in her right forearm. Group members told police she was beaten for hours before Sisk shot her, on Moses order.
Jadon had not been seen since October 2010. Zania Thomas, one of the women who lived with Moses, told police he killed boy.
Authorities believe Moses controlled several women who lived with him, considered themselves his wives and referred to him as Lord.
Moses subscribed to the tenets of the Black Hebrews, which believes a race war is coming that will leave blacks dominant and supreme, according to court documents.
It was at his house at 2109 Pear Tree Lane in Durham that authorities believe both victims were killed. McKoy tried to escape the house right before her death, according to a neighbor, and wrote in a diary that she feared Lord might kill her after she found out she could not have children.
Durham investigators worked for months to build a case. But without bodies, the case stalled.
Then a plumber searching for the source of clogged pipe last summer unearthed the missing piece of the puzzle.
The rental house at 2622 Ashe St. had been vacant since Sheilda Harris and several of her family members moved out in February 2011, within days of when police went to Moses home on Pear Tree Lane, looking for McKoy.
Neighbors helped dig up a plastic bag the plumber thought might be clogging the pipe. But as they dug deeper into the earth and the odor of death erupted from the soil, the men called the police.
Court records show McKoy was shot with Sisks Kel-Tec .22 and that she was identified by tattoos on her right wrist, left and right shoulders even though Moses, Sisk and Harris tried to burn them off.
In an interview last year, McKoys aunt, Stephanie McKay of Washington, said she helped to raise McKoy. She described her niece as an innocent, childlike spirit. Moses was McKoys high school sweetheart, and they reconnected over the Internet. The two talked over the phone late last year and, in November, Moses persuaded McKoy, who was working as a security guard, to come to Durham.
Not Moses son
Sisk had a total of four children, three of them by Moses. Jadon, her oldest, was the only child in the house Moses did not father.
According to court records, in October 2010, Smith, one of Moses girlfriends, told him that Jadon had hit one of her sons on the buttocks. Moses believed that Jadons father was a homosexual; when Jadon hit the other child, Moses concluded Jadon was homosexual as well.
Didnt I tell you to get rid of him? Moses said to Sisk, according to court records.
Moses took Sisks gun and told Harris, another of his girlfriends, to take a computer and speakers to the garage, according to records. As the Lords Prayer played in Hebrew, Moses took Jadon to the garage and shot him in the left side of his head.
Sisk did not try to help her son, even though he screamed so loud that people in the house could hear him, according to prosecutors.
Harris and Smith cleaned up the blood in the garage and put Jadons body in a suitcase. The suitcase was kept in the master bedroom until it began to smell.
Staff writers Lana Douglas, Kyle Jahner, Mandy Locke and Thomasi McDonald contributed to this article.