Pennsylvania beheading: Ex-roommate says Justin Mohn showed signs of paranoia years ago

Justin Mohn had shown signs of paranoia and believed the government had been "out to get him," his former roommate said.

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Friday, February 2, 2024
Everything we know about man accused of beheading father
Pennsylvania beheading: Here's what we know about Justin Mohn, the man accused of killing father

MIDDLETOWN TWP., Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- A man accused of decapitating his father and showing the federal worker's severed head during a politically charged tirade online is charged with murder after he was arrested with a gun at a Pennsylvania National Guard base, according to officials and court documents.

The gruesome video circulated for hours on YouTube - garnering more than 5,000 views - before it was taken down. Justin Mohn, 32, now is being held without bond, also charged with abuse of a corpse and other crimes, Pennsylvania court documents show.

READ MORE: Bucks County man charged with murder after allegedly beheading father, posting video on YouTube

Bucks County man charged with murder after allegedly beheading father, posting video on YouTube

Action News has learned that the U.S. Marshals Service investigated Mohn in August of 2023 after he allegedly made a threat against a U.S. District Court Judge. The case was closed that same month.

During the online diatribe, Mohn railed against the Biden administration and the border crisis while declaring himself the new acting U.S. president under martial law and decrying his father as a traitor. The victim, Michael Mohn, worked for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Philadelphia District.

ALSO SEE: Why was a revolting YouTube video of a decapitated head left online for hours?

The video was removed over its graphic violence, YouTube said.

According to information provided to law enforcement, Mohn held conspiratorial and anti-government views for at least seven years and attempted to recruit people to join his alleged "Mohn's Militia" on Reddit and Discord, though he did not attract any takers.

One Discord server threw him out because of the recruitment attempts, according to ABC News.

Mohn also sued the Department of Education three times, most recently in 2022, saying the department and the education secretary failed to inform him of the risks of the student loans he used to pay for college.

He also sued his former employer, Progressive Insurance in Colorado, claiming discrimination that the company perceived him as an over-educated male, and deprived him of pay and benefits. In that case, the court ruled in favor of Progressive.

How the grisly discovery unfolded

Middletown Township Police were dispatched at 7 p.m. Tuesday to Upper Orchard Drive after a report of a deceased male, the Bucks County District Attorney's Office said.

"The call to emergency dispatchers came from the victim's wife. When officers arrived, they located the male deceased in the bathroom," the prosecutor's office said in a statement. "The victim's adult son was not present when police arrived and left the area in his father's vehicle."

A machete and a large kitchen knife were found in the bathtub, according to the probable cause affidavit.

"Officers also located the deceased male's head inside of a plastic bag which was inside of a cooking pot in a first-floor bedroom next to the bathroom," the affidavit says.

In the affidavit, police cite the video posted on YouTube by Justin Mohn, the son of the victim and alleged killer.

READ MORE: Neighbors say Pennsylvania man accused of beheading father was acting 'strange,' 'unhinged'

Neighbors say they noticed changes in Justin Mohn's behavior several months ago. One of them ended up calling police due to his odd behavior.

In it, the man identifies himself as Mohn and apparently reads from a written statement and at one point holds up what appears to be a bloodied head inside a clear plastic bag. He says his father, who was a federal employee for over 20 years, was a traitor to his country.

"America is rotting from the inside out as far left, woke mobs rampage our once prosperous cities," he says in the video.

Investigators also found "clear rubber gloves with what appeared to be blood on them." After viewing the YouTube video, investigators confirmed "the gloves, decapitated head, and room are the same as depicted in the video," the affidavit says.

YouTube in a statement Wednesday told CNN it "has strict policies prohibiting graphic violence and violent extremism."

"The video was removed for violating our graphic violence policy and Justin Mohn's channel was terminated in line with our violent extremism policies. Our teams are closely tracking to remove any re-uploads of the video," it said.

After fleeing the home, Mohn drove more than 100 miles, then broke into a Pennsylvania National Guard base with a gun, said state Department of Military and Veterans Affairs spokesperson Angela Watson.

He was taken into custody at the Fort Indiantown Gap base - home of the Pennsylvania National Guard headquarters - shortly after 9:25 p.m. Tuesday, Watson said.

"He was armed at the time but did not resist arrest," Watson said.

It's unclear what connection, if any, Mohn has to the base. He was not in the National Guard, Watson said.

It's not clear whether Mohn has an attorney. He was arraigned early Wednesday morning. A judge ordered him held without bond, court records show. His next hearing is set for February 8.

The victim's employer is "deeply saddened about the tragic death of our teammate Michael Mohn," the Army Corps of Engineers Philadelphia District said in a written statement. "He served with our Geo-Environmental Section. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Mohn family and we are focused on supporting our grieving employees at this time."

Ex-roommate: Mohn thought the government was after him years ago

As far back as 2016, Justin Mohn had shown signs of paranoia and believed the government had been "out to get him," his former roommate Davis Rebhan told CNN.

Mohn and Rebhan met in 2016 when they were assigned to be roommates at the University of Colorado in Colorado Springs, Rebhan said.

"Even back then he had very clear issues. He would always talk about how the government was out to get him, and it was always like these vague stories about it. He would never give specific examples," Rebhan said. "He would tell me these stories that always seemed exaggerated, so it was hard to take anything he was saying seriously or know what he was saying the truth about."

"I thought he was just a weird kid who had some issues," Rebhan said. "But I obviously (wasn't) thinking he would do this or was dangerous."

Rebhan said they first lived in student housing for a few months before moving into an apartment off-campus for six months.

"At one point he had a hysterical fit and smashed the apartment," Rebhan said. "I wasn't home when he did it, so I don't know what triggered it. But we had a long conversation after that, and he told me had undiagnosed PTSD."

Rebhan reported the incident to property management and moved out in November 2016, he said.

'Deeply politicized, extreme rhetoric'

As authorities work to understand the motive behind the alleged crimes, "you can make some assumptions based on his claims in the video that he's been motivated by politics," said McCabe, the former FBI deputy director.

"The bigger picture here is that this is another example of the fact that the kind of overheated, deeply politicized, extreme rhetoric that you hear sometimes in this country from politically elected officials and leaders actually has an impact on these marginalized people with extremist views who might be ... driven to embark in acts of violence," he said.

"Some of the things that he has said on the video - allegedly referring to woke mobs and things like that - that's not dissimilar from rhetoric that you hear from some politicians that we've heard recently in the primary season," McCabe said.

"So this kind of language has an effect on the ... most vulnerable, most potentially dangerous part of our population. And I think it's something that most security officials are really concerned about."

'Strange' and 'unhinged'

Neighbors in Middletown Township say they frequently saw Mohn exhibiting odd behavior in the neighborhood.

Neighbors say they noticed changes in Mohn's behavior several months ago. While they say it was nothing violent, it was enough to make them uncomfortable. One of them even ended up calling the police.

"He just started acting funny over the summer. I made a couple calls to the police department because he was sitting right there on that culvert thing and staring at my house constantly. I thought that's kind of strange," said neighbor Bart DeHaven.

When asked if he felt threatened, DeHaven said no.

"But it's just weird for somebody to stay seated right there, stare straight at my house. You know, when I would come home, he would just pick up and move. Weird," he said.

Further details on the case are expected to be released during a press conference on Friday.

CNN and ABC News contributed to this report.