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‘John Doe’ buried in Georgia ID’ed by DNA as Michigan teen missing 39 years

Forensic experts on Tuesday identified a body buried in Georgia for nearly 40 years as a 15-year-old Michigan boy who was reported missing in 1979.

Andrew Jackson Greer Jr., of Clayton, vanished Feb. 12, 1979, after leaving Addison High School and failing to return home. Michigan State Police officials said in a news release that the cold case was reopened in 2014 with the help of new technology and resources. 

“A forensic analyst from the Center for Human Identification at the University of North Texas today confirmed that DNA from a ‘John Doe,’ who was buried in a pauper’s grave in Macon, Ga., in 1979, matches Greer’s DNA,” officials said in the release.

The positive identification came just three days after what would have been Greer’s 55th birthday. 

The Daily Telegram in Adrian, Michigan, reported that Greer, who apparently ran away from home after getting in trouble at school, was hitchhiking through Georgia two days after his disappearance when he was struck by a semi truck along Interstate 75 near Macon. 

The teen, who reportedly had only candy bars and taffy on him when he died, was trying to cross the interstate when he was struck, the Telegram reported. Another truck driver told investigators in Georgia that he’d given the hitchhiker a ride in the Atlanta area. 

Michigan State Police Detective Larry Rothman told the Telegram that the teen told the driver he was traveling to Key West, Florida, to visit relatives. Greer had family living there at the time. 

The boy even gave the truck driver a name before they parted: Drew Greer. 

The details of the Georgia investigation never made it to Michigan at the time, and the unidentified young man was eventually buried in Evergreen Cemetery.

>> Read more trending news

Another investigation in 2000 failed to turn up information on Greer’s whereabouts, Michigan State Police officials said. The cold case was reopened in 2014, at the urging of Greer’s family, with the hope that new technology could help find the missing teen. 

Anthony Strickland, a retired Bibb County deputy who, as a young officer, had seen Greer buried in an unmarked grave in April 1979, took a look at the case in 2017 and linked it to Greer’s disappearance, the Telegram reported

He compared notes with Rothman, and their information fit, the newspaper reported. Rothman traveled to Georgia and the long-buried body was exhumed. 

“A DNA sample was taken from ‘John Doe’ at the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and sent to the Center for Human Identification for comparison,” the troopers news release said. “The results concluded that it was 1.9 trillion times more likely that the DNA from ‘John Doe’ was that of Greer than not. Together, the DNA results and police reports conclude they are one in the same.”

Greer’s half brother, John Bowman, told the Telegram that he believed authorities had found his brother in February, when the remains were exhumed. 

“I felt confident when we got the news in February about what they found then that it was him,” Bowman told the newspaper. 

Bowman, who was just 4 years old when his older half brother vanished, told The Detroit News the family plans to have Greer’s remains cremated and returned to Michigan, where they will hold a memorial service. 

Unfortunately, the brothers’ mother died last year never knowing what happened to her son. 

“It was my trying to help my mom find that answer that led us to this place,” Bowman told the News. “Hopefully, she knows the truth today.”

Black woman denied job because of ‘ghetto’ name; company claims email hacked

A Missouri woman who applied for a customer service job was shocked Monday when she received an email stating that her “ghetto” name had lost her the position. 

Hermeisha Robinson, 27, of Bellefontaine Neighbors, posted the email response from Mantality Heath on her Facebook page. 

“Thank you for your interest in careers at Mantality Health,” the email read, according to Robinson’s post. “Unfortunately, we do not consider candidates that have suggestive ‘ghetto’ names. We wish the best in your career search.”

The email was signed Jordan Kimler, a nurse practitioner with the company. According to the company’s website, Mantality Health provides treatment to men suffering from low testosterone. It has multiple locations in several states. 

Robinson wrote that she was upset to be turned away from a position she felt she was well qualified for.

“My feelings are very hurt and they even got me second-guessing my name, trying to figure out if my name is really that ‘ghetto,’” she wrote. “I would like for everyone to share this post because discrimination has to stop!”

Share the post her friends did. As of Wednesday morning, it had been shared more than 10,000 times. 

One of the people sharing Robinson’s post was her cousin, Miltina Burnett. Burnett wrote on Facebook that the response made Robinson -- who was named after her late father, Herman -- question whether she should “change her name to fit in corporate America.”

“Don’t ever change who you are to become more like them,” Burnett wrote. “They had no right to say what they said to her.”

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch spoke with Mantality Health owner Kevin Meuret, who on Tuesday said that the company’s email system was hacked by someone outside Missouri. Meuret said he believes the hacker may be an angry former employee. 

“I’m a father of three daughters, and that young lady getting that (response) is horrible,” Meuret told the Post-Dispatch. “That young lady opened something that must have felt like a freight train, and that’s unacceptable.”

Burnett shared images of private messages she received from Mantality Health employees about the alleged hacking. 

Company officials believe the hacking may have been done through Indeed.com, where Robinson submitted her application. Mantality Health’s website has a statement addressing the situation.

“The password for the outside job board site used by Mantality was compromised on Aug. 13, 2018,” the statement reads. “We are currently working with law enforcement to identify the perpetrator and consider appropriate legal action. We share the anger and frustration of those who received these bogus emails.”

Meuret told KMOV News 4 that they believe about 20 applicants got emails similar to Robinson’s.

Dorneshia Zachery was one of them, the news station reported. 

“The company looked at my name and said, ‘We don’t care about what you’ve done in life; your name is going to dismiss you completely,’” Zachery told News 4

Meuret told the news station that the emails are deplorable.

“This is not a reflection of who we are as a company,” he said. 

The company has gotten the Chesterfield Police Department involved in the case, as well as St. Louis County’s cybercrimes division. 

“We will continue to pursue this even if it becomes a federal matter,” Meuret told the Post-Dispatch

>> Read more trending news

Indeed.com officials told News 4 that they have found no signs of hacking on their end.

“Account security is of utmost importance to Indeed and something that we diligently monitor,” the company’s statement read. “Account holders are responsible for use of their password and we recommend frequent updates and complete confidentiality of your password. Our investigation into this particular account shows no evidence of compromise.”

Cybersecurity experts told the Post-Dispatch that the incident was likely an internal break-in and not a “high-tech hacking event.”

“If you have a guy who knows everything about the infrastructure of the company, it’s going to happen,” Jianli Pan, a cybersecurity professor at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, told the newspaper. “It’s up to the company how important it is for them to keep their systems secure. But that’s not free. It takes money and training and designating some expert to be in charge of such issues.”

Companies, particularly small ones, should have a checklist of things to do when an employee leaves, according to Joe Scherrer, Washington University’s program director of graduate studies in information systems management and cybersecurity management. The checklist should include eliminating all access to email, social media and all other communication means, Scherrer told the Post-Dispatch

“You should scrub them out of the company. I know that sounds harsh, but it’s how to prevent this from happening,” Scherrer told the newspaper

Parliament car crash: Salih Khater named as suspect in possible terror attack, reports say

A man arrested on suspicion of terrorist offenses in connection with a Tuesday morning car crash outside the Houses of Parliament in London has been identified as Salih Khater, British media outlets are reporting.

Here are the latest updates:

Update 5:45 a.m. EDT Aug. 15: More details are emerging about the man accused of driving a car through security barriers and injuring pedestrians outside the Houses of Parliament in London on Tuesday.

According to The Associated Press, British media outlets have identified the terror suspect as Salih Khater, 29. 

Khater is a “British citizen of Sudanese origin,” the AP reported. A Facebook page that appeared to be his said he is a shop manager who lives in Birmingham and attended the Sudan University of Science and Technology, the report said.

Investigators searched three properties tied to Khater, including two in Birmingham and one in Nottingham, the AP reported.

Read more here.

Update 3:50 a.m. EDT Aug. 15: According to British media, the man arrested in connection with a possible terrorist attack outside the Houses of Parliament in London has been identified as Salih Khater, The Associated Press is reporting.

Update 9:10 a.m. EDT Aug. 14: President Donald Trump responded to Tuesday’s attack in a tweet.

“Another terrorist attack in London,” the president wrote. “These animals are crazy and must be dealt with through toughness and strength!”

Authorities said three people suffered injuries that did not appear to be life-threatening on Tuesday morning after a man in his late 20s slammed a silver Ford Fiesta into cyclists and pedestrians in front of the Houses of Parliament. The car stopped when it hit a barrier, police said.

The man, who has not been identified, was arrested on suspicion of terrorism offenses.

“Given that this appears to be a deliberate act, the method and this being an iconic site, we are treating it as a terrorist incident and the investigation is being led by officers from the Counter Terrorism Command,” Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu said.

Authorities do not believe any other suspects were involved in the incident.

Update 7:08 a.m. EDT Aug. 14: Three people were injured when a man drove through security barriers outside the U.K. Houses of Parliament, the London Ambulance Service tweeted Tuesday.

“Two patients were treated at the scene and taken to hospital, and a third patient with minor injuries was assessed at the scene,” the tweet read.

Prime Minister Theresa May thanked first responders and expressed sympathy for the victims.

“My thoughts are with those injured in the incident in Westminster and my thanks to the emergency services for their immediate and courageous response,” she tweeted.

Meanwhile, Britain’s emergency COBRA committee announced it would be meeting in response to the suspected terrorist attack, The Associated Press reported.

Update 5:46 a.m. EDT Aug. 14: A man in his late 20s has been arrested “on suspicion of terrorist offenses” in connection with the crash that left “a number of people” injured, London police said in a news release. The injuries are not believed to be life-threatening.

The man, who was driving a silver Ford Fiesta, struck cyclists and pedestrians before hitting security barriers in the area, police said.

The car was not carrying any passengers, police said.

“At this stage, we are treating this as a terrorist incident and the Met's Counter Terrorism Command is now leading the investigation,” the news release said.

Authorities are requesting anyone with photos, videos or information about the incident to contact police.

Read more here.

Original report: London’s Counter-Terrorism Command is leading the probe into a Tuesday morning crash outside the U.K. Houses of Parliament, The Associated Press is reporting.

Police said a man driving a car slammed into security barriers in the area about 7:37 a.m., hurting pedestrians. None of the injured “are in life-threatening condition,” the AP reported. Police arrested the man.

Metropolitan police tweeted that authorities are “keeping an open mind” about the investigation.

In March 2017, four people were killed in a terror attack in the same area, the AP reported.

– The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Naked man breaks into liquor store, steals can of soda, police say

A Georgia business owner expressed surprise after police said a naked man broke into his liquor store and only helped himself to a soda.

>> Watch the news report here (Viewer discretion advised.)

Police said the man used a hammer to break into the Forsyth County liquor store earlier this week.

"The surveillance video shows it all. Police say the only thing the accused burglar tried to take was a can of Coke," said Jamie Kurisko.

Kurisko said he had always believed that if anybody broke into his liquor store, they'd be after cash and maybe booze. 

"I was pretty angry but a little relieved because I figured he wasn't in the store to rob it," Kurisko said.

Early Monday, Cumming police said the man used a hammer to smash through the glass doors of Beverage World. 

MORE ON WSBTV.COM:

>> Here's why the NM compound suspects could be released from jail

>> At least 150 students denied housing at Clark Atlanta University

>> Georgia police officer, wife found stabbed to death

The surveillance video shows except for a pair of shoes, the man wasn't wearing a stitch of clothing. 

Officers said Charles Wyatt, 61, walked around the store, helped himself to a can of soda then lay down on the floor for a few minutes. 

Police said three nights earlier, officers also encountered Wyatt walking along the road in front of the store unclothed. 

>> Read more trending news 

He was transported to the hospital the first time. This time, he was taken to jail.

"We've shown a couple of people the video, some of our salespeople. Everybody is kind of amazed. It's kind of funny right now, but it wasn't at the time," Kurisko said.

Police said Wyatt has a diminished mental capacity for which he takes medication. They said the first time they crossed paths with him, he had missed some doses. 

7-year-old boy struck, killed by car while trying to cross 4 lanes of traffic

A 7-year-old Georgia boy died after he was hit by a car in the middle of a busy North Decatur road in DeKalb County about 3 p.m. Tuesday, police said.

>> Watch the news report here

DeKalb County police said it appears the driver was coming over a hill and did not see the child.

Officials said the 7-year-old was walking alone when he tried to cross four lanes of traffic. He was about a half-mile from where he lived.

"There's no stop sign. Nobody is stopping cars; (they) just come down here flying," said DeKalb County resident Richard Sanders.

Police said the driver stopped after hitting the child just near the entrance of the Brentwood Apartments.

"The driver could not see the child as she was coming over the hill, and by the time she saw him, it was too late," said Shiera Campbell of the DeKalb County Police Department.

>> Read more trending news 

The incident is alarming to residents because of the amount of foot traffic in the area, including children. Neighbors said there is a lack of safe crossing zones.

WSB-TV's Carl Willis mapped the area. He discovered there is about a half-mile between crosswalks.

"I would say they're pretty far apart, yes," Campbell said.

The boy who was killed had a backpack with him, according to police. DeKalb County Schools confirmed he was a student at Dunaire Elementary School.

The district released the following statement: 

“We are heartbroken that one of our students, a 7-year-old just beginning his life, passed tragically this evening. Our thoughts are with his family and the Dunaire Elementary community during this difficult time. We will offer support to students and staff in the coming days, and will stand with them in support.”

Residents said they never want to experience this kind of loss again.

"We need to look at this area and put up some precautions for the safety of the children," Sanders said. 

"You're going to have more accidents, especially with cars trying to get in here," said DeKalb County resident Jackie Bigby.

87-year-old woman Tased by police while cutting dandelions, family says

A Georgia woman says she was stunned with a Taser by police while she was out cutting dandelions outside a Boys and Girls Club.

>> Watch the news report here

Investigators said they got a 911 call from the club about the woman, but the caller said the woman wasn't a threat.

Chatsworth police officers found 87-year-old Martha al-Bishara on the property when they arrived.

Police said they ordered Bishara to drop the knife and then shocked her with a Taser.

Family members shared photos of Bishara inside her hospital room with WSB-TV’s Richard Elliot.

When Elliot stopped by her home Tuesday, her family said she was doing well.

“She’s recovering, you know. Still a little sore from what she’s gone through,” nephew Solomon Douhne said.

MORE ON WSBTV.com:

>> 7-year-old boy killed trying to cross four lanes of traffic

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On Friday afternoon, Bishara said she walked across the street from her house to cut some dandelions for her salad from property owned by the Boys and Girls Club.

When they saw a woman with a knife, they reportedly called 911.

“She’s so old; she can’t get around too well,” the caller told the 911 dispatcher. “Looks like she’s walking around looking for something, like, vegetation to cut down or something.”

“She just brought the knife onto the property in her hand. She didn’t try to attack anybody or anything,” Douhne said.

When police arrived, they ordered Bishara, who doesn’t speak English, to drop the knife. When they say she didn’t and moved toward them, they shocked her with the Taser.

“She really didn’t know what was going on or why they were there. She had no clue what to expect,” Douhne said.

Douhne told Elliot that he is a former Dalton police officer. He said Chatsworth police didn’t appear to do anything procedurally wrong, but he wishes they had used more common sense to disarm his 87-year-old aunt.

>> Read more trending news 

“Less-lethal force is the practice that we normally (follow), but in this case, you know, if you could tell the communication wasn’t working, she was not posing a threat, give it time, let it play out,” Douhne said.

She’s currently charged with trespassing and obstruction.

In an interview with the Dalton Daily Citizen-News, the Chatsworth police chief defended the department's actions.

>> See the clip here

Mom killed shielding children from car on 1st day of school

The first day of class at a Texas elementary school quickly went from a day of excitement to one of tragedy Monday as a mother was killed shielding several children from a car in the school’s parking lot. 

Kharisma Ashlee James, 33, died at the scene at Mary N. Tippin Elementary School, in El Paso. Three students were also injured, including two of the James’ children, school officials said. They were taken to the hospital for treatment. 

Victor Araiza, chief of the El Paso Independent School District’s police force, said at a media briefing Tuesday morning that the victim’s 6-year-old daughter, her 7-year-old son and the third child, a 10-year-old fellow student, are in serious condition but are getting better.

“All of those children are expected to survive,” Araiza said. 

Araiza told reporters at the scene Monday afternoon that James was walking through the parking lot with the children around 3:30 p.m. when Roger Hawking, 58, started to back the car he was driving out of a parking spot. Hawking was picking his grandchildren up from school. 

After backing into another car, Hawking apparently hit the accelerator instead of the brake. James tried to get in front of the children so they would not be struck, school district officials said. 

“The parent attempted to get the attention of the driver and intervene, and that parent was also struck by the vehicle,” Araiza said.  

Victoria Bruce, another parent who was friends with James, told KFOX-TV she heard the collision take place. 

“You heard the metal crash so loud that you knew that something awful had happened,” Bruce told the news station Tuesday morning. “Everybody went running over. I kept my kids back because I knew at that point there was nothing I could do and I didn’t want ... (my children) to see whatever had happened. You could hear people shouting, ‘Is there a doctor or nurse?’”

Bruce said she found out later that it was a friend who was killed and that she died protecting her children.

James’ Facebook page indicated that she was a U.S. Army veteran who served in Iraq. After eight years in the service, she went back to school with the help of a scholarship from the Women’s Fund of El Paso, according to a May 2017 blog post on the organization’s website.  

A May 2017 graduate of the Gayle Greve Hunt School of Nursing at the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, she started working at the Hospitals of Providence in November, her Facebook page said

The Women’s Fund of El Paso shared photos from James’ graduation on its own Facebook page, including pictures of the beaming graduate with her children and other family members. 

Araiza said Tuesday that investigators were trying to determine if Hawking was suffering a medical issue when the accident happened. 

“We just don’t know yet,” Araiza said. 

The chief said school administrators are doing everything in their power to ensure traffic moves smoothly in the school’s parking lot. 

“It’s difficult to describe how this could have been prevented,” Araiza said. “The actuality is that the responsible person for this is the driver of that vehicle. The fault does not rest on the school administration. The fault rests on the individual who was operating that vehicle and was not familiar with it.”

It was not clear why Hawking was not familiar with the vehicle. He could face charges in the accident. 

Counselors were provided almost immediately after the collision to help students, faculty and parents who witnessed the accident. Araiza said police and school officials worked through the night Monday to ensure that the school was ready for its students to arrive on the second day of class. 

Counselors will be on hand the remainder of this week, as well as next week. 

“We want to make sure that our kids are able to get through this and that our parents that are bringing their kids to our schools understand that we’re doing everything that we possibly can to keep them safe,” Araiza said. “This is a very tragic accident.”

>> Read more trending news

School resumed Tuesday morning, with several police officers on the scene as parents arrived to drop their children off. One motorcycle officer could be seen issuing traffic citations, according to the El Paso Times

El Paso Superintendent Juan Cabrera was also at the school, where he told reporters an accident like the one that took place is something no one could ever prepare for. 

“We literally do thousands and thousands of pickups and drop-offs every week across the city with 92 schools,” Cabrera said. “We are right now just really focused on the students.”

He said there were an extra 50 adults on campus to help care for the children. 

“Our No. 1 priority is to take care of the kids,” Cabrera said. “What we’re trying to make sure of is that the buses are running on time and the kids feel safe and secure.

“This is the second day of school. It should be one of the most joyous times of the year. All of us have kids; many of us have kids here at the district, so we know how important the start of school is.”

Man charged with assaulting wife crashes plane into own home hours later

A Utah man who hours before had been arrested on domestic violence charges crashed a plane into the front of his home Monday, killing himself.

Duane Youd, 47, of Payson, died when the Cesna 525 CitationJet struck the house, exploding and setting the house on fire, according to Payson police officials. Youd was killed in the crash, but two people inside -- identified by the Salt Lake Tribune as Youd’s wife and her son -- escaped uninjured through the back of the home. 

“He is an experienced pilot,” Sgt. Noemi Sandoval, a Payson police spokeswoman, told the news media. “He flew from Spanish Fork Airport directly here, into the home.”

Sandoval said the toll could have been worse. Youd, who was able to fly below power lines, clipped a shed and a car before the plane hit the house. 

“I can’t believe he was able to fly in like that,” Youd’s friend, Alan Herbert, said at the crash scene. “If he hadn’t hit the car, I wonder how much more damage this would have done to the house.”

Payson police officials said that Youd was arrested Sunday night and charged with assault for allegedly abusing his wife. That incident took place in American Fork Canyon, where the couple reportedly went to discuss their marital problems. 

Witnesses who saw the assault called the Utah County Sheriff’s Office. 

“It was not just a slap or a shove,” Utah County sheriff’s Sgt. Spencer Cannon told the Tribune. “It was an ongoing thing described by witnesses.”

>> Read more trending news

Youd was booked into the Utah County Jail at 9:18 p.m. on an assault charge, jail records show. He was released around 12:30 a.m. Monday after signing an agreement to stay away from his wife and posting $1,940 bond. 

Payson police officials said Youd requested assistance from police officers there to accompany him to his home so he could pick up some belongings and his vehicle. The trip to the house took place without incident.

Less than two hours later, he crashed the plane into the home, authorities said. The Payson Fire Department responded, and firefighters extinguished the blaze. 

Youd’s son from a prior marriage, Parker Youd, spoke to reporters at the scene. The 17-year-old, who was at his mother’s house when the crash took place, said his father told him things were going to be “rough for a little bit,” but gave no indication that he would hurt himself or others. 

Parker Youd was likely the last person to talk to his father, who he described as “the best dad (he) could ask for.”

“I said, ‘I love you. Good luck. I’ll see you tomorrow,’” Parker Youd said. “He said, ‘I love you, too,’ got in his truck, and drove away.”

Joslyn Youd, 21, posted a photo of her father, smiling and holding a caught fish in his hands, on Facebook. The caption read, “I’ll love you forever.”

Neighbors and friends who knew Duane Youd said they, too, were shocked by the events that took place. Zach Linch, who lives next door to the crime scene, said Youd was always a good neighbor.

“I would never have have expected anything like this,” Linch told the Tribune. “He seemed like a normal guy to me.”

Herbert, who had known Youd since they were teenagers, said the crash was not something he would have expected from his friend. 

“He was an exciting guy to be around,” Herbert told the newspaper. “Always positive, never negative. If you were feeling bad, he’d always make sure you were feeling good when you left.”

Car wash's billboard promoting QAnon conspiracy theory sparks controversy

A Georgia car wash has aligned its business with a group that believes a government insider is publicly uncovering a vast left-wing plot against President Donald Trump.

The billboard reads “#QANON” — citing a group many have said espouse conspiracy theories — and has a logo with the name of Car Nutz Car Wash in the bottom left corner. 

>> Read more trending news 

Car wash co-owner Cleve Meredith said the sign is about a mile away from his business in Acworth.

He said he let his employees know before putting up the sign in June.

“We all support Freedom and independent thought,” he wrote in an email response to questions from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Monday.

Meredith said he put up the billboard because he’s “a patriot among the millions who love this country.”

>> On AJC.com: Two jailers fired for online comments

In October 2017, an anonymous user posted on 4chan, a shadowy part of the internet that has been used as a breeding ground for extreme ideas. The poster, under the moniker “Q,” claimed to have a high-level government clearance.

The right-wing group believes debunked myths, including those surrounding Pizzagate — the false notion that Democratic party officials were running a child-sex ring out of a Washington, D.C., pizza shop. In 2016, a man who went to the store to “self-investigate” the fabrication fired three shots from an AR-15 in the shop. 

In June, an armed man drove an armored vehicle to the Hoover Dam claiming to be on a mission from QAnon.

Trump has not explicitly discussed Q in public, but the group’s followers divine meaning from actions and phrases used by the president. For the most part, they appear to be Trump supporters.

Dozens of people at a Trump rally in Tampa on July 31 had Q signs and T-shirts and spoke to reporters about their beliefs.

>> On AJC.com: What happened at Charlottesville: Looking back on the anniversary of the deadly rally 

Q has been amplified by people like actor Roseanne Barr, who was banished from her self-titled television reboot after comparing former White House adviser Valerie Jarrett, who is black, to an ape. She claims she didn’t mean to evoke racism.

The Acworth business, which records show incorporated in the state in 2013, has received mixed reviews online. 

On Yelp, the business has been bombarded with one-star reviews that appear to be because of the sign. One reads: “The sign is rasict (sic) and basically conspiracy theories that prey on people's fears.”

In the reviews section of Google, the business has been flooded with five-star reviews like this one: “Thank you for your wonderful #QANON billboard. A true patriotic business - please patronize these wonderful people!!”

Meredith, the car wash co-owner, said “common sense” drew him to QAnon. He refuted calling it a group, instead describing it as “a wake-up call."

He said he felt the reviews created a "zero sum net gain" because "individuals have their own opinions and should express them freely."

When asked if he understood why some people would be offended by the sign, he simply responded: “Misinformation.”

Toddler died during religious 'ritual' at New Mexico compound, prosecutors say

When a 3-year-old boy from Clayton County, Georgia, died in a ritual in the northern New Mexico desert, the other children there were allegedly told he would come back to life as Jesus and tell them who to kill.

>> Remains of child found at New Mexico compound identified as missing Georgia boy, grandfather says

That’s among the jarring allegations leveled Monday by prosecutors, who are accusing the child’s father and four other adults of setting up a squalid isolated compound and plotting violence. Police raided the property in Taos County on Aug. 3 and say they have evidence the occupants were Muslim extremists training their children to become killers with high-powered weapons.

>> Atlanta dad planned ‘exorcism’ on son before desert camp found, police say

Authorities initially went to the compound looking for Siraj Ibn Wahhaj, who is accused of taking his son, Abdul-Ghani Wahhaj, from the child’s mother in late November after claiming he was taking the boy to a Jonesboro-area park. A month earlier, Siraj Ibn Wahhaj made a trip to Saudi Arabia and came home wanting to stop his son’s medicine and perform rituals to rid him of “demonic spirits,” the father’s family told authorities. The child suffered from brain damage caused during birth, as well as seizures.

>> On AJC.com: Death in the desert: What led to Atlanta dad’s mysterious journey?

The father and son had apparently arrived at the compound in January, along with four adult relatives and 11 of their children. The adults are each charged with 11 counts of child cruelty (none relating to Abdul-Ghani) and were in court for a bond hearing, which was streamed online by Albuquerque news station KOB.

Judge Sarah Backus said the testimony was troubling, but she wasn’t convinced the suspects were a danger to the community. She granted each $20,000 bond to be released from jail, with the conditions that they wear an ankle monitor until they get stable housing in the county and have only supervised visits with their children.

One of the children told an FBI agent the boy would foam at the mouth during the rituals, which consisted of the father reading from the Quran and placing a hand on the boy’s head. The agent said the rituals began before the dad left Georgia and continued in New Mexico at the urging of another of the compound’s occupants, Jany Leveille.

Leveille is the “Islamic wife” of Wahhaj and believed that she was originally supposed to be the toddler’s mother, according to FBI agent Travis Taylor.

Taylor testified that Leveille believed Wahhaj’s legal wife in Georgia used “black magic” to steal the child from Leveille’s womb.

During the final ritual on Abdul-Ghani, his heart stopped, the agent said. Leveille allegedly said she believed the child had already been dead and was only still animated because he was possessed by demons.

After his death, the boy reportedly was washed, prayed over, wrapped in a sheet and placed in a tunnel near the camp.

At least one child told authorities that the adults led them to believe Abdul-Ghani would come back as Jesus and instruct them on what “corrupt institutions they needed to get rid of,” authorities said. The institutions were expected to include teachers, law enforcement and the military.

When police searched the site, they allegedly found a shooting range and a number of firearms, as well as a document with instructions about how to build an untraceable AR-15. Some guns were in the tunnel. Prosecutors said Siraj Ibn Wahhaj had also taken extensive firearms training in Georgia.

While the group was at the compound, relatives and friends were trying to locate them, including Wahhaj’s father, the well-known New York City imam also named Siraj Wahhaj. The father has said something must have gone wrong mentally for the group to cut ties suddenly and travel west. In addition to his namesake, the group includes two of the imam’s daughters and his son-in-law.

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Siraj Ibn Wahhaj’s brother, Muhammad, received a letter from someone at the compound (authorities aren’t sure who wrote it) instructing him to bring all his money and weapons to the site, prosecutor Timothy Hasson said. The letter said not to tell his father.

“Allah says he will protect you always,” the letter reportedly said in part, “so follow until he makes you a martyr.”

That martyrdom, Hasson said, was supposed to come after Muhammad joined the group in New Mexico.

Further details about the trip to Saudi Arabia weren’t revealed. Hasson conceded that countless Muslims make the hajj pilgrimage to the country, which could be a logical explanation for the trip.

“The evidence as a whole says this family was on a mission, a dangerous one and a violent one,” the prosecutor said.

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