Police: Online cult members vanish from St. Louis area without a trace

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BERKELEY, Mo. – Police in St. Louis continue to investigate months after four adults and two young children living in the area vanished without a trace. Police claim the group joined an online cult before disappearing.

A spokesperson for the Berkeley Police Department said the group was living in 25-year-old Makayla Wickerson’s home near St. Louis Lambert International Airport for months before vanishing.

Wickerson’s mother, Cartisha Morgan, said she is living her worst nightmare. She has not heard from Wickerson or her 3-year-old granddaughter since March. She tried calling for welfare checks and asking child services to intervene, ultimately to no avail.

“I was trying to let them know that something was not right,” Morgan said.

Morgan said her daughter had been manipulated by an online cult led by Rashad Jamal.

Jamal, whose legal last name is White, is a self-proclaimed prophet with tens of thousands of followers. At present, he’s serving an 18-year sentence in Georgia for child molestation.

Morgan said before her daughter disappeared, Wickerson cut off all communication with her family last March, quit her corporate job and maxed out her credit cards.

“Mental illness is real. Manipulation is real,” Morgan said. “There are a lot of things going on out here, and we just need to be aware of it.”

Berkeley Police Major Steve Runge has been investigating the group’s disappearance for nearly five months now.

“Everything’s on the internet now, so why not have a cult on the internet?” Runge said.

Runge helped search the abandoned rental home for clues. Before the group disappeared, neighbors noticed some abnormal behaviors, Runge said.

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“Neighbors reported seeing these people outside daily worshipping the sun,” he said. “When it was raining, they would come outside naked and run around the yard. They were digging up things in the yard.”

Runge said the group believes in polygamy, is anti-government, and encourages followers to go off the grid. But with no signs of these six people in months, their families now fear the worst. Morgan has advice for any parent who sees this story.

“If you see something that’s off, please take measures to get them help as quickly as possible. I would have never imagined that I’d never have known where my daughter and granddaughter are right now,” Morgan said.

Anyone with information about the group’s disappearance is asked to contact the Berkeley Police Department.


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