The Alabama couple who are charged with the highway murder of student Adam Simjee may be followers of a conspiracy-theory sect led by a suspected child molester, police now say.
Yasmine Hider and her partner, Krystal Pinkins, were arrested on Aug. 14 after Hider allegedly fatally shot Simjee after luring him and his girlfriend into a forest where they were living off the grid with Pinkins’ 5-year-old son.
Simjee and his girlfriend, Mikayla Paulus, had been out on a drive to take in some nature when Hider allegedly flagged them down under the guise that she needed roadside assistance. Instead, police say, she pulled a gun on the couple. Simjee was also armed and shot back in self-defense, wounding Hider. Simjee died at the scene.
Police then found the camp where Hider, Pinkins, and Pinkins’ son—who they disarmed of his sawed-off shotgun—had been living off-grid for some time. The two women are charged with murder, kidnapping, and robbery. Additional charges against Pinkins include child endangerment.
After investigating the couple’s background, police now say they were followers of a secret sect known as the University of Cosmic Intelligence, led by Rashad Jamal White—aka Rashad Jamal, or “God” to followers—who is in custody in Georgia on charges of child molestation and child cruelty.
Police are now looking at other killings that may be tied to sect devotees, including the Jan. 16 slashing death of Helen Nettles Washam in Eight Mile, Alabama.
Washam’s husband told Vice that his son Damien had become obsessed with White’s group, started drinking, and couldn’t stop quoting him. “I think he should die,” Hubert Washam said, describing how his son killed his mother with a ninja-style sword and attacked his autistic brother and uncle who was bedridden with cerebral palsy.
“He was listening to those conspiracy kind of videos and it was dumb as hell,” Washam’s father told Vice. “It was stupid. I tried to look at some of these videos and I can’t even listen to them, it’s so dumb. Lizard people and aliens.”
The University of Cosmic Intelligence group’s Facebook page features a number of Jamal’s tweets and says it is geared toward “enlightening and illuminating the minds of the carbonated beings, a.k.a. your so called Black and Latino people of Earth” and sells trinkets that include crystal necklaces for $111.11 and T-shirts for $66.93.
Jamal, a self-described musical artist and deity, has a wide following on YouTube, where he recently uploaded a jailhouse song in which he seems to imply that human beings—especially NBA players—are injected with “nanobot technology” and become avatars at birth, after which society conditions them through “social programming through sex, violence and drugs and movies and music.”
Jamal also claims the government controls the weather and that rainbows are fabricated to control the “alternate dimensions” around us all.
He preaches polygamy, anti-vaccine conspiracies, and calls himself “God” to his many followers. “I am a god, and all of my people, the Black and Latino people, are gods. And we were made in the image of our creator,” Jamal sings in the latest YouTube offering. “Therefore, I am an extension of Her/Them, and I am the creator and destroyer of my reality, so I take full responsibility for all events that I have experienced through this lifetime, for this is what we call shadow work in the spiritual realm.”
While it is not clear if Hider and Pinkins—who were followers of the group—carried out the alleged murder as part of their following, investigators have successfully petitioned a Georgia court for a gag order on the case, apparently to not rouse suspicion among other members of the University of Cosmic Intelligence community.