Missing St. Louis women joined spiritual cult before disappearing, police say

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BERKELEY — Four adults and two toddlers who “vanished” from the St. Louis area in August were followers of a self-proclaimed prophet and rapper with a cult following, police announced Tuesday.

In the months before they went missing, Berkeley police said, the group had joined a nationwide spiritual cult run by Rashad Jamal, a convicted sex offender with tens of thousands of followers across social media platforms.

Jamal’s cult, which does not have a specific name and is aimed at Black and Latino people, is characterized by polygamy and anti-government conspiracy theories, police said. It encourages followers to go off the grid and create a “total disconnection” from family and friends.

“It is extremely troubling to the family members of all of the missing people,” Berkeley Maj. Steve Runge said on Tuesday. “The level of disconnect these cult members have demonstrated with friends and family members is unfathomable.”

Three of the six missing people are St. Louis residents: 25-year-old Mikayla Thompson, her cousin 36-year-old Ma’Kayla Wickerson, and Wickerson’s 3-year-old daughter Malaiyah Wickerson.

Three other people — Naaman Williams, 30, of Washington, D.C.; and Gerrielle German, 27, of Lake Horn, Mississippi, and her 2-year-old Ashton Williams — went missing from St. Louis at the same time.

The group was last seen Aug. 13 at a Quality Inn in Florissant. That was one day before the cult leader faced trial in Georgia on charges of child molestation and first-degree child cruelty.

He was convicted and sentenced to 18 years in prison and 22 years of probation.

Content retrieved from: https://www.stltoday.com/news/local/crime-courts/missing-st-louis-women-joined-spiritual-cult-before-disappearing-police-say/article_cad3b6be-af29-11ee-b498-1bc2991644df.html.

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