Fugitive Shooter Of NY Cult Leader Nabbed In W. Philly

BY ANDY NEWMAN OF THE NEW YORK TIMES A former fugitive wanted in the shooting of a Staten Island commune leader was ordered held without bail yesterday after she was brought back to Staten Island to face attempted murder charges. Rebekah Johnson, 44, was escorted from the 120th Precinct station house on Staten Island to acommuneshooter190.jpg hearing Friday in State Supreme Court.

At her arraignment, prosecutors said that the woman, Rebekah Johnson, had four driver’s licenses under three names and 11 license plates in her apartment when she was arrested last month in Philadelphia.

Ms. Johnson, 44, is a former member of Ganas, the only commune in New York City. Group members said she was ejected in 1996 for disruptive behavior, and she spent much of the next decade waging a legal and verbal campaign against a co-founder of Ganas, Jeff Gross, and other group leaders, accusing them of running a sexually abusive cult, the authorities have said.

On May 29, 2006, Mr. Gross was critically injured when he was ambushed outside his home, one of the dozen or so houses that Ganas owns on a hill overlooking the Staten Island Ferry Terminal. He was shot in the neck, chest arm and leg.

The authorities have said they learned of Ms. Johnson’s whereabouts several weeks ago after she registered a car under her own name. On June 18, as she got off an elevated train in West Philadelphia to meet the car’s seller, Ms. Johnson was intercepted and arrested without a struggle, the authorities said.

Inside her studio apartment five miles away, the police said, they found an AK-47 assault rifle and a thousand rounds of ammunition. Ms. Johnson has not been charged with any weapons violations in Pennsylvania, the authorities said.

Prosecutors offered new details yesterday about Ms. Johnson’s life on the run. In the Philadelphia apartment, the police found her photograph on a Massachusetts driver’s license in the name of Lynn Marie Solomon and a Virginia license in the name of Claire Marie Yates, said Kelly Carroll, an assistant district attorney on Staten Island.

NEW YORK TIMES: Stranger Than Fiction
GANAS: The Last Commune In New York

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