Authorities are searching for a Mississippi woman and her 3-year-old son who went missing with at least four other people several months ago after they reportedly joined an online cult in the St. Louis, Missouri area.
Gerrielle German and Ashton Mitchell were reported missing by the woman’s mother in July 2023, according to WREG-TV in Memphis.
Shelita Gipson, German’s mother, tells WREG-TV that her daughter and Ashton left Horn Lake, Mississippi, to travel with a friend to Berkeley, Missouri, last year.
Horn Lake police informed the news outlet that German and her son were spotted at a home in the area in August 2023.
The mom also shared with WREG-TV that her daughter was going on what she called a "spiritual journey" and was acting strange.
Gipson explained that she hasn’t spoken to her daughter since last July, adding that German left her 4-year-old daughter behind when she left Mississippi.
Citing the Berkeley police in Missouri, USA Today reported that the other missing people have been identified as Mikayla Thompson, 24, Ma’Kayla Wickerson, 25, and 3-year-old Malaiyah Wickerson, all three live in St. Louis. And Naaman Williams, 29, is from Washington, D.C.
The disappearance of the group is possibly connected to Rashad Jamal White, the leader of a group called the "University of Cosmic Intelligence," which is described as a "spiritual cult," with 200,000 subscribers on its YouTube channel, the USA Today reported.
Jamal alleges he doesn’t know the missing people and claims he doesn’t lead a cult. WREG-TV reported that the man is serving an 18-year sentence in Georgia for child molestation.
This story was reported from Washington, D.C.