The Other McCain

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Crazy People Are Dangerous: Florida Kook Murdered by Deranged ‘QAnon Mom’

Posted on | November 19, 2020 | No Comments

“Florida man with ‘sovereign citizen’ views shot to death by woman, police say,” is the headline in the Tampa Bay Times:

A Florida man who questioned government authority over individuals living in the U.S. through an online forum was fatally shot, allegedly by a woman who has espoused similar “sovereign citizen” views, police said Tuesday.
The Marion County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release that Neely Petrie-Blanchard was arrested in Georgia one day after the killing of Christopher Hallett in his Ocala-area home. Witnesses to the shooting said Petrie-Blanchard accused Hallett of working with the government to deny her custody of her children.
Hallett, 50, ran an entity called E-Clause LLC that featured a Facebook page filled with documents, graphics and articles about whether governments have authority in many instances over individuals. This viewpoint is frequently summarized as the “sovereign citizen” movement.
Petrie-Blanchard, who turns 34 on Thursday, was being held without bail Tuesday in a jail in Lowndes County, Georgia. It was not clear if she had a lawyer to represent her.
Lowndes County Sheriff Ashley Paulk said Petrie-Blanchard, after her arrest, began questioning whether his office had authority to detain her.
“She’s one of these people who claim they’re not part of the United States — sovereign people,” Paulk said. “They don’t believe any of the laws apply to them. Obviously, she’s not leaving.”

There is more to this story — much, much more — including the fact that Hallett was a podcast partner with Kirk Pendergrass, who is not a lawyer but who presumes to teach law on Facebook. When he learned of Hallett’s death, Pendergrass did a memorial livestream on Facebook claiming Hallett was a victim of the “Deep State” and concluding with an appeal for people to send him money. Because that’s what the “sovereign citizen” movement actually is, a way for dimwit kooks to cash in by selling conspiracy theories to people even dumber than they are, and trust me, they’re plenty stupid. Now to continue the story:

In another twist, court records in Logan County, Kentucky, show Petrie-Blanchard was indicted by a grand jury Tuesday on charges related to the abduction last March of her twin daughters from their grandmother’s home. Petrie-Blanchard only had permission for supervised visits.
When Kentucky authorities were searching for the two girls, they said Petrie-Blanchard was driving a Ford Escape with a license plate that read, “ECLAUSE,” according to an Amber Alert issued at the time.
The Kentucky records show Petrie-Blanchard is charged there with two counts of custodial interference and one count of being a persistent felony offender. She faces a Jan. 28 arraignment date.
Petrie-Blanchard was free on $10,000 bail in the Kentucky case when Hallett was killed. The child custody issue appears to have been behind the slaying of Hallett in Florida, investigators said in a probable cause affidavit.
Witnesses to the shooting said it occurred “due to her (Petrie-Blanchard) belief that the victim might have been working against her or working to assist the government, in keeping her children away from her.”

So, the “sovereign citizen” kook Hallett was allegedly trying to help this deluded woman, who was so paranoid she believed that he was part of the government conspiracy against her. Moral of the story: Live by the conspiracy theory, die by the conspiracy theory. But wait — there’s more!

Both Petrie-Blanchard and Hallett belonged to a clandestine network of QAnon believers and fringe legal theorists focused on child custody battles. As The Daily Beast reported in August, the group has incited mothers who have lost custody of their children to plot to kidnap them from relatives or foster homes, egging them on with fictitious QAnon tales about a nefarious “cabal” that teams up with child protective services to abuse children. . . .
Hallett, 50, had become a key part of the YouTube QAnon network, streaming his fake legal claims with his on-and-off business partner Kirk Pendergrass. While neither man is registered as a lawyer in their home states or appears to have any legitimate legal education, they promoted their services on QAnon YouTube shows to build a following among a community of desperate mothers who had lost their children, and solicited donations for their services.
Hallett’s legal services appear to have universally failed when they managed to reach the courts.

Imagine that — you’re getting legal advice from someone who is not a lawyer, and this results in you losing court cases. (Bill Schmalfeldt could not be reached for comment.) But the key here is that these “sovereign citizen” kooks had recognized non-custodial mothers as potential clients, which is a rather volatile combination. Think about what must be involved for a court to deprive a woman of custody of her own children. Such a woman must be seriously dangerous — a drug addict, perhaps, but maybe also mentally ill — and when you put her in contact with a bunch of “sovereign citizen” types, bad results are not surprising.

The sad thing is that custody battles are always bad for children and it’s not a conspiracy theory to say that children involved in such custody fights often do endure abusive treatment. Nobody would want their children dumped into the foster-care system, but that wasn’t the case with Petrie-Blanchard, whose own mother had custody of her kids. Petrie-Blanchard was a special kind of a crazy, the kind Hallett attracted:

Hallett’s reputation in the world of aggrieved QAnon mothers grew large enough that a fugitive on the run from the FBI traveled to his home in Ocala, Florida, to get his help on her custody case. Like Petrie-Blanchard, Colorado mother Cyndie Abcug had fallen under the sway of Hallett and his YouTube allies, convinced that QAnon believers could help win her son back from a foster home. According to a police report, Abcug was plotting an armed assault on the foster home with fellow armed QAnon supporters, convinced by QAnon claims that the foster parents were “pedophiles.”
Abcug’s teenage daughter allegedly tipped off the police to the plot. But Abcug fled the state ahead of her arrest and became a cross-country fugitive with help from QAnon supporters. She eventually made her way to Hallett, convinced that he could help her regain custody of her son. But Abcug eventually grew disillusioned with Hallett’s supposed legal abilities, according to one of her traveling companions, and was later arrested by the FBI in Montana while still on the run.
Petrie-Blanchard, by comparison, appears to have remained convinced that E-Clause could help her win back custody of her daughters. On her Facebook page, she even described herself as an “E-Clause agent.”
But their relationship appears to have turned fatal, allegedly fueled by Petrie-Blanchard’s imagining of a QAnon-style government conspiracy.
According to a police report, an unnamed female witness and her daughter were in Hallett’s house when the incident occurred on Sunday. When the witness heard what sounded like a firecracker go off in the kitchen, both she and her daughter investigated the noise. They saw Hallett standing with a “pained look on his face,” and Petrie-Blanchard standing behind him holding a pistol that appeared to have been fired and jammed, according to a witness statement.
“Oh shit, oh God, please, no,” Hallett said, according to the witness.
“You’re hurting my children, you bastard,” Petrie-Blanchard said, according to the witness’s daughter’s statement to police, before allegedly aiming the gun at the witness and her daughter.
As the witness and her daughter fled to the back of the house, they heard more shots fired into Hallett. When sheriff’s deputies investigating the gunshots arrived on the scene, they found Hallett “obviously deceased from numerous gunshot wounds,” and shell cases and live bullets scattered around the house.

File this one under “ironic justice.”



 

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