Did a Group of Young Black Spiritual Seekers Vanish Due to an ‘Online Cult’?

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As police and families search for six people missing from the St. Louis area, rumors and half-truths swirl around their involvement with Rashad Jamal, a spiritual influencer now in prison for child abuse.

The last time Mikayla Thompson’s aunt, “Ella,” saw her was over the summer. She arrived at Mikayla’s apartment in Berkeley, a suburb of St. Louis, to pick up the younger woman’s toddler daughter, who’d been staying with her some of the time, and caught a glimpse of a heavyset man in the hallway.

“That’s my mom’s boyfriend,” the little girl said.

Later that summer, Ella—we are referring to her by a pseudonym to protect her privacy—discovered that Mikayla, who is 25 years old, had laid out her daughter’s birth certificate and a few photos, along with several letters. There was a note addressed to her daughter “encouraging her to live her best life, to not let people put her down or boss her around, to be the best she can be,” Ella remembered.

Mikayla and three other young adults including Naaman Williams, the heavyset man, and Makayla Wickerson, a distant cousin, also 25, vanished, along with two young children. They haven’t been seen since leaving a hotel in Florissant, Missouri in early August, and none of their families have heard from them. Steve Runge, an investigator with the Berkeley Police Department, says he has no leads.

Content retrieved from: https://www.vice.com/en/article/jg548g/rashad-jamal-online-cult-st-louis-six-people-vanish.

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