NATIONAL NEWS

Man accused of beheading his father in suburban Philadelphia home and posting gruesome video online

Jan 31, 2024, 5:23 AM | Updated: 6:12 pm

LEVITTOWN, Pa. (AP) — A man accused of beheading his father in suburban Philadelphia posted a gruesome video on social media that shows him holding up the severed head and railing against the government, authorities said Wednesday.

Justin Mohn, 32, who is charged with first-degree murder and abusing a corpse, was armed and had jumped a fence at a National Guard facility about 100 miles (160 kilometers) away when he was arrested late Tuesday, hours after the killing, a Guard spokeswoman said.

The father, identified as Michael F. Mohn, was found decapitated in the bathroom of the home in Levittown where his son also lived.

The YouTube video, more than 14 minutes long, showed Justin Mohn picking up the head and identifying his father by name. Police said it appeared he was reading from a script as he encouraged violence against government officials and called his father a traitor to his country.

Michael Mohn was a federal employee, an engineer with the geoenvironmental section of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Philadelphia District.

“We are deeply saddened to learn of the tragic death of our teammate Michael Mohn. … Our thoughts and prayers are with the Mohn family and we are focused on supporting our grieving employees at this time,” the district said in a statement. It referred any further questions to law enforcement.

Police said Michael Mohn’s wife, Denice Mohn, arrived home and found the body about 7 p.m. Tuesday. Officers found the body, a machete and bloody rubber gloves, according to a police affidavit. Denice Mohn told police her husband’s white Toyota Corolla and her son were missing.

In a statement, YouTube said the video, which was uploaded and not livestreamed, was removed for violating its graphic violence policy and Justin Mohn’s channel was shut down. Police said the video was online for about five hours.

Mohn, who also was arrested on a weapons possession charge, was arraigned Wednesday and held without bail with a hearing scheduled for Feb. 8. Police and prosecutors were expected to release additional details at a news conference Friday.

An attorney for Mohn wasn’t listed in court records, and a message seeking comment on his behalf was left at a phone listing for him. The district court office said it had no record of a lawyer representing him.

Mohn embraced violent anti-government rhetoric in writings he published online going back several years. In August 2020, Mohn published an online “pamphlet” in which he tried to make the case that people born in or after 1991 — his birth year — should carry out what he termed a “bloody revolution.” He also complained at length about a lawsuit that he lost and encouraged assassinations of family members and public officials.

In the video posted after the killing, he described his father as a 20-year federal employee. He also espoused a variety of conspiracy theories and rants about the Biden administration, immigration and the border, fiscal policy, urban crime and the war in Ukraine.

Mohn drove his father’s car to Fort Indiantown Gap, where he was taken into custody, Capt. Pete Feeney of the Middletown Township Police Department said. Officials at the facility were told late Tuesday that Mohn’s cellphone had pinged nearby, according to Angela Watson, communications director for the Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs.

He was walking and had a gun when he was caught, Watson said. She said he has never been a member of the Pennsylvania National Guard.

The house where Michael Mohn’s body was found is in a suburban development of single-family homes. No one answered the door there Wednesday.

Neighbors out walking dogs described Justin Mohn as a regular walker in the development, someone they recognized for his odd behavior.

Bart DeHaven said he called police a handful of times since the summer after Justin Mohn sat on a raised manhole cover in a park directly across the street from his home and stared at his house.

“It’s just sad,” DeHaven said Wednesday morning. “He should have got some kind of help.”

Carrie McCarthy said she saw him walking frequently and sitting in the wooded area in the neighborhood. She said someone sent her the YouTube video, which left her stunned.

“I screamed. I totally screamed,” she said. “I opened the video and I was like, ‘Oh my God, that’s the guy I see every day, and I knew something was unhinged with him.’”

While living in Colorado in 2017, Mohn allegedly harassed employees at the Colorado Springs credit union where he once worked, threatening to sue the business for $10 million unless it agreed to a $2 million settlement. He also allegedly threatened to publish false statements about them or come to the credit union and make false statements to provoke police to attack the employees and then film it.

Three employees sought protection orders against Mohn but dropped the case under a settlement in which he promised not to contact them and they paid him $10,000. As part of the case, the workers had submitted the lines from a song or poem written by Mohn that they felt was threatening, entitled “Men Don’t Get No Warning Shot.”

In one email submitted as evidence, Mohn accused his co-workers of tampering with evidence in a disciplinary matter against him in 2016 and said the state’s civil rights division was investigating.

A man who lived in apartments with Mohn about a decade ago in Colorado Springs recalled hearing Mohn talk at length about conspiracy theories. Davis Rebhan said he left the living situation shortly after Mohn became volatile one night and damaged the walls and other objects.

Mohn’s only visitor during the year they lived together was his father, who visited for a weekend, Rebhan said.

“I got nothing from that visit that would have made me ever think this would happen,” Rebhan said. “There was nothing that would lead me to believe that Justin didn’t care about his dad. And it was really clear that his dad cared about him because it was clear he had these issues and his dad still came across the country to stay with him.”

In 2018, Mohn sued Progressive Insurance, alleging he was discriminated against and later fired from a job at an agency in Colorado Springs because he was a man who was intelligent, overqualified and overeducated. A federal judge said Mohn provided no evidence to indicate he was discriminated against because he was a man — in the length of his training or in being denied promotions to jobs. Progressive said it fired him because he kicked open a door. An appeals court upheld the finding that Mohn did not suffer employment discrimination.

Mohn worked for Progressive from October 2016 until August 2017 and sued the company after his employment ended, spokesperson Jeff Sibel said via email. He did not offer any further comment.

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AP reporters Michael Rubinkam in northeastern Pennsylvania, Claudia Lauer in Philadelphia, Amy Beth Hanson in Helena, Montana, Colleen Slevin in Denver and Mark Scolforo in Harrisburg contributed.

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This story has corrected the name of the victim’s wife to Denice Mohn, not Denise Mohn.

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