A Kentucky mother was charged with killing a Florida man who allegedly helped her regain custody of her children by joining a bizarre QAnon network of self-proclaimed “sovereign citizens”.
Neely Petrie-Blanchard, 33, was arrested Monday for the murder of Christopher Hallett, 50, at his Florida home, the Marion County sheriff’s office said.
An eyewitness told authorities that Petrie-Blanchard killed Hallett because she believed he was working with the government to keep her children away from her. This comes from a police report made available to BuzzFeed News.
The Daily Beast reported that both Hallett and Petrie-Blanchard were part of a network of QAnon supporters who express themselves as anti-government “sovereign citizens” who use bizarre legal tactics in custody battles. QAnon is the collective deception that absurdly claims that President Donald Trump is saving the world from a satanic cabal of elites wielding a huge ring for child sexual abuse.
Authorities said Hallett helped Petrie-Blanchard regain custody of her twin daughters through false legal claims, but she allegedly killed him after believing he was working against her.
Officers responding to the Sunday shooting found Hallett dead from multiple gunshot wounds lying face down on the kitchen floor in his Ocala home. An eyewitness who was at Hallett’s house with her daughter told authorities that she saw Petrie-Blanchard Hallett fatally shot and escaped from the scene in a vehicle.
The witness said that after the first shot she heard Petrie-Blanchard say, “You hurt my children, you bastard,” followed by the sound of additional gunshots, according to the police report.
After authorities alerted law enforcement nationwide, a Lowndes County, Georgia MP found Petrie-Blanchard at a gas station and took her into custody. It is unclear if she has a lawyer.
Petrie-Blanchard was charged with kidnapping on Tuesday. That related to an incident in March when she allegedly abducted her twin daughters from her grandmother’s home in Bowling Green, Kentucky, the Associated Press reported.
Her mother, Susan Blanchard, had obtained sole custody of the two 7-year-old girls through a court order that described Petrie-Blanchard as “extremely unstable,” according to the Logan County Sheriff’s Office. Petrie-Blanchard was arrested on March 25 after failing to return her twin daughters to Susan’s home during a visit five days ago.
Police said Petrie-Blanchard had a history of mental illness. She was a self-proclaimed “sovereign citizen” who reportedly owned a pistol, according to Logan County authorities.
Hallett appeared to be helping Petrie-Blanchard regain custody of her children by getting involved in a company called “E-Clause” which purports to employ legal tactics rooted in the “sovereign citizens” movement.
Self-proclaimed sovereign citizens “hold truly bizarre, complex, anti-government beliefs based on racism and anti-Semitism,” according to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).
Members believe they can choose which laws to obey and ignore, and think they don’t have to pay taxes. They also participate in anti-government protests and file false lawsuits and false mortgages to advance their beliefs.
Petrie-Blanchard seemed to have placed her trust in Hallett’s help in obtaining custody of her children. After allegedly kidnapping her daughters from her mother’s house in March, she was seen driving a Ford Escape with a Florida license plate reading “ECLAUSE”.
In a photo released by authorities in March, she was wearing a T-shirt that read “E ~ Clause”. She also retweeted some of Hallett’s tweets on her account.
Eyewitnesses speaking to authorities “speculated” that Petrie-Blanchard shot Hallett “because she believed the victim might have worked against her or helped the government keep her children away from her,” the police report said.
Social media accounts apparently owned by Petrie-Blanchard showed that she supported President Trump. She posted a live Facebook video of a November 2018 Trump rally she was participating in with her twin daughters, both of whom wore red T-shirts that read “E ~ Clause + Trump Girls”.
Her Twitter account was also riddled with phrases and wild conspiracy theories linked to QAnon.
As reported by the Daily Beast, QAnon believers associated with “E-Clause” have been linked to similar crimes, including inciting parents who have lost custody of their children to them from relatives or foster homes to kidnap.