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Six People -- Including Young Kids -- Vanished Without A Trace In What Cops Say Is A Cult Disappearance

Six People -- Including Two Young Kids -- Vanished Without A Trace In What Cops Say Is A Cult Disappearance

Police in the St. Louis-area suburb of Berkeley, Missouri are dumbfounded as to where six people went after they disappeared from a home together way back in the summer of last year.

In August 2024, Naaman Williams, 29, Gerielle German, 26, Ma’Kayla Wickerson, 25, and Mikayla Thompson, 23 (pictured in that order, left to right, above) went missing from a rented home in Berkeley. Also missing and presumed to be with them are German’s 3-year-old son Ashton Mitchell and Wickerson’s 3-year-old daughter Malaiyah Wickerson. Now, after five full months with very little to go on, police believe the adults are part of a cult they got involved with online. WTF?!

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Per People, Berkeley Police Department Major Steve Runge has reason to think the four missing adults are members of a cult reportedly revolving around a man named Rashad Jamal. Over the last few years, Jamal has picked up thousands of followers online by operating what he calls the University of Cosmic Intelligence. That organization, per its website, was founded with the purpose of “enlightening and illuminating minds” of Black and Latino people.

Leader Jamal was convicted of child molestation charges last year, however, and is currently serving a prison sentence in Georgia.


That’s only part of the story, though. For one, Major Runge claims the police have found evidence that at least three of the missing adults have changed their names to honor the cult’s gods or goddesses. Per People, Williams is now known as Anubis Aramean. Thompson changed her name to Antu Anum Ahmat. And Wickerson is now Intuahma Aquama Auntil.

In addition to changing their names, the Berkeley PD learned the four missing adults allegedly exhibited other behavior typical of the most strident of Jamal’s nearly 100,000 followers. They have disconnected completely from family members and loved ones, they professed a desire to go off the grid, they quit their jobs, and they embraced the idea of sovereign citizenship. That last one is particularly interesting; sovereign citizenship is a notion promulgated most often by white supremacist organizations and their supporters in fighting back against the federal government and avoiding things like paying taxes. In this case, Berkeley PD investigators believe Jamal’s followers have picked up that tactic, too. (FYI, sovereign citizenship isn’t a thing, it isn’t legal, and it doesn’t work to get out of paying your taxes. Obviously.)

In this case, cult concerns began back on August 12, 2023. On that day, Wickerson’s mother Cartisha Morgan called the police and relayed a concern that her daughter might be in trouble. Cartisha hadn’t heard from Ma’Kayla in several days, and she asked the Berkeley police to investigate. Cops couldn’t find Ma’Kayla or her daughter Malaiyah. But they also weren’t able to find any signs of struggle or foul play at Ma’Kayla’s residence in Berkeley. Confused, detectives started looking online for clues — and that’s when they found all four missing adults’ Facebook profiles. Their pages all contained references to Jamal and the University of Cosmic Intelligence. Even more concerning was the fact that their posts were all made public and had been extremely prolific right up until they abruptly stopped posting in early August.

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Detectives caught a small break early in the case when they were able to track down a report of the group having been seen at a hotel in Florissant, Missouri on August 13 — one day after Cartisha Morgan called police to inquire about her daughter. Florissant is another St. Louis-area suburb about four miles north of Berkeley. Unfortunately, from there, the trail went cold. In the five months since then, there has not been a confirmed sighting of any of the six individuals.

So scary…

For Runge and the rest of the Berkeley PD, the fact that the so-called cult operates entirely online has made finding answers very difficult. He explained as much to People in their report on Monday morning:

“It’s confusing, the internet is [the alleged cult’s] home. It’s not like ‘OK, we’re going to go to St. Louis.’ No, the internet is its home. [Jamal] has 90,000 followers.”

Still, Runge is doing his best to remain optimistic. For one, he thinks the group is still alive — and they will surface again when they run out of money. Until then, he told the mag detectives are just going to keep grinding on the case:

“I know we’re going to find them. It’s just a matter of going through the motions … we are going to put in the work.”

FWIW, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch contacted Jamal about this ordeal amid his prison stay in Georgia. In their interview, he denied being the leader of any cult whatsoever. So it would seem that he won’t be much help in the search…

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As for Cartisha Morgan, she is understandably very worried about both her daughter and granddaughter. She’s concerned Wickerson fell into a postpartum depression after giving birth to her now-3-year-old daughter, and she may have been preyed upon by the group as a result. Cartisha told the mag:

“I’m not doing so well, but I’m just holding on by my faith. I just wish that people are made aware of this.”

Cartisha also delivered an absolutely heartbreaking message meant directly for her daughter Ma’Kayla amid this ordeal:

“Ma’Kayla, we love you and we want the best for you. We would like for her to come back home. We are going to get her the help that we need. Your spiritual journey is your spiritual journey. If you want to be your best self, we understand that, but we love you and we just want you to come back home.”

Just absolutely crushing. You can see more about this case (below):


We hope from the bottom of our hearts that this story has a happy ending. Sending all our support to Cartisha and the rest of this group’s families, friends, and loved ones during this unimaginable and awful time. And mostly we hope the children are found safe and sound.

[Image via KMOV St. Louis/YouTube/Berkeley Police Department]

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Jan 15, 2024 13:29pm PDT