The Positively True Adventures Of The Alleged Kentucky QAnon Murdering Mom
A woman obsessed with the QAnon conspiracy theory is being held for allegedly shooting and killing a quack legal theorist associated with the sovereign citizen movement, in a story that seems just about as 2020 as you're going to get. It's two dangerous rightwing fringe communities coming together, leading to death and general horror. Will Sommer's capsule description at the Daily Beast is as clear as something this weird can hope to get:
Neely Petrie-Blanchard, a Kentucky resident, had long ago lost custody of her daughters for reasons that are unclear. And to help in the task of getting them back, she turned to Chris Hallett, an amateur legal expert who offered bogus court services through a company called "E-Clause," and who promised Petrie-Blanchard she could win her daughters back through ludicrous courtroom tactics he borrowed from the anti-government sovereign citizen's movement.
Unfortunately, at some point, Petrie-Blanchard's enthusiastic support for Hallett's pseudolegal "expertise" apparently dimmed, and according to a witness to the shooting at Hallett's home in Ocala, Florida, she may have believed Hallett was actually part of a Deep State plot to keep her from getting her twin seven-year-old daughters back.
"It was speculated that the victim was shot by [Petrie-Blanchard], due to her belief that the victim might have been working against her, or working to assist the government, in keeping her children away from her," the police report reads.
Petrie-Blanchard fled, but was later arrested in Georgia and is being held pending extradition back to Florida. And here's a cheery thought: It looks like she was just one of many folks in what Sommer calls "a clandestine network of QAnon believers and fringe legal theorists focused on child custody battles." Have a bunch of folks already distraught that they've lost custody of their kids? Why not scare them further with QAnon's tales of a worldwide "cabal" of pedophile cannibals, and then promise them they can easily get their kids back by using weirdass bogus legal filings that hucksters insist will unlock the "true" power of the real US Constitution?
Back in March, Petrie-Blanchard kidnapped (allegedly — she's still awaiting trial) her twin daughters from their grandmother (Petrie-Blanchard's mother), who has legal custody of them. But that was fine, because she posted a statement on Facebook and delivered copies to local officials in Kentucky, full of the magic words that sovereign citizens believe make them immune to the tyrannical laws that get in the way of what they wanna do:
"I do not consent, I do not contract, I do not acquiesce nor trade, or allow access or enquiry to my nor my children's Cestui que vie trust," Blanchard's strange statement read. "All deemed authorities are now notified & therefore have no legal jurisdiction against me, I am now not 'deemed dead lost at sea.'"
I can only assume that bit about not being "lost at sea" is word magic to make sure she's not beholden to any court with gold fringe on the US flag, which various conspiracy loons think means it's an admiralty court. Beats me.
Buzzfeed News adds that the court order granting custody of the girls to their grandmother described Petrie-Blanchard as "extremely unstable," and that police in Kentucky said she had a "history of mental illness," as well. She was eventually caught and the girls returned to their grandmother; the AP reports that Petrie-Blanchard was finally indicted Tuesday on kidnapping charges in that incident, after initially being charged and released on "two counts of custodial interference and one count of being a persistent felony offender."
After her release in March, Petrie-Blanchard went back to QAnon "research" and moderating a Facebook group promoting E-Clause and Hallett's legal "theories." Our very cursory googling turned up this perfectly clear explanation of ... something. We don't know whether this is Hallett's work or Petrie-Blanchard's, but it definitely looks like similar weirdness from other sovereign citizen and QAnon scholars.
Hallett was a real piece of work, too:
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. He claimed that Donald Trump had authorized him to create a separate legal system, a notion that a federal judge found risible in a January opinion, calling Hallett's legal work "rambling."
"The Court declines to entertain Plaintiff's fantasy that he is acting at the behest of the President," the opinion reads.
Well that just proves how deep the plot goes, now doesn't it?
Then on Sunday, it appears Petrie-Blanchard had become dissatisfied with Hallett's legal expertise and his work to regain custody of her kids through specious court documents. The unidentified eyewitness to the shooting, the police report says, was at Hallett's house along with her daughter, and went to the home's kitchen after hearing what they thought was a firecracker. They saw Petrie-Blanchard standing with a pistol, and the daughter told police that Petrie-Blanchard said, "You're hurting my children, you bastard" to Hallett, before she pointed the gun at them.
They ran, and then heard more shots. The witnesses weren't harmed, so there's that. By the time police arrived, Hallett was dead, and Petrie-Blanchard was arrested a few hours later in Georgia.
She has currently only been charged as a fugitive but is expected to be charged with murder when she's extradited to Florida, according to the Marion County Sheriff's Department.
It's all just awful, and a reminder that both QAnon and the sovereign citizen movement attract a lot of people who aren't entirely in touch with reality, either by choice or because of mental illness. It would be really disturbing if adherents of such delusional bullshit started getting elected to Congress, wouldn't it?
Ah, yes, and following Hallett's killing, Sommer notes, his E-Clause partner, Pendergrass, was back on YouTube Monday night, explaining in a live stream, "You know how the deep state doesn't like to be exposed."
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