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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Man charged after allegedly beheading father and posting video online

By Kim Bellware, Jennifer Hassan and Jintak Han Washington Post

A Pennsylvania man accused of beheading his father, a federal employee, and then holding the victim’s severed head in a video he uploaded to YouTube was charged Wednesday with first-degree murder, abuse of a corpse and possession of an instrument of crime.

In the graphic video, which has since been removed, the man also went on a 14-minute tirade, espousing right-wing conspiracy theories, demanding that President Biden resign and threatening to kill federal workers.

Police apprehended Justin Mohn, 32, on Tuesday night, roughly 100 miles from the home he shared with his mother and father in Levittown, Pennsylvania. Mohn is being held without bail in the Bucks County Correctional Facility.

Officers responded to the Mohns’ home Tuesday evening after the victim’s wife discovered his body and called emergency dispatchers. Police found the decapitated body of 68-year-old Michael F. Mohn in a bathroom “with a large amount of blood around him,” according to the criminal complaint. Police said a machete and large knife were found in the bathtub.

Police found the victim’s severed head in a plastic bag placed in a cooking pot in a first-floor bedroom. Investigators recovered bloody rubber gloves in another bedroom and others in a trash can next to a bedroom desk.

The victim’s wife told police she had left the house earlier that day, leaving only her son and her husband at home. Before she returned to find the body, Justin Mohn had taken his father’s car and fled the scene. He was tracked down by investigators who used cellphone data to locate him, Middletown Township police chief Joe Bartorilla told the Washington Post by phone.

“He’s in custody, so he’s not a threat,” Bartorilla said. He added that he did not think anyone else was involved in Tuesday’s killing.

Mohn had minimal contact with local police in the past, for incidents dating back to when he was 19 years old that Middletown Township Lt. Stephen Forman described as insubstantial.

“He was sitting in front of his house with another kid in the car, (generating) a suspicious person complaint,” Forman said. “He wasn’t one of our ‘frequent fliers,’ so to speak.”

In the video Mohn posted after the killing, he said his father had worked for the federal government for more than 20 years and called him “a traitor.” He wore a pair of bloodstained gloves and showed a bloodied plastic bag that appeared to contain his father’s head. He railed against immigration, the LGBTQ community, the Black Lives Matter movement and the antifa movement. He called for an end of the federal government and said America was being run by a network of traitors.

Bartorilla confirmed that Michael Mohn was an employee of the federal government and said police would look into the graphic video as part of the case against the son.

When asked about a possible motive, Bartorilla said: “We don’t know yet. We have some ideas.”

According to court records, Justin Mohn struggled to maintain steady employment after graduating from Pennsylvania State University in 2014 with a degree in agribusiness management and eventually moved home to live with his parents.

He repeatedly sued various federal government entities, including the U.S. Education Department, blaming them for his economic situation and accusing the government of “inducing” him to take out student loans, which he was struggling to repay because of his unemployment.

“Mr. Mohn attributes his inability to secure a job because potential employers ‘perceive[d] him as an overeducated, white male which led to affirmative action against him,’” a federal judge in Pennsylvania wrote in a 2022 decision dismissing Mohn’s case.

The footage of Mohn holding his father’s head was viewed about 5,000 times before YouTube took the video down five to six hours later.

In a statement emailed to The Post early Wednesday, YouTube confirmed that the video was removed for violating the platform’s graphic-violence policy.

A spokesman for the platform also said that Mohn’s account was terminated in line with YouTube’s policies against violent extremism.

YouTube said its employees are closely tracking the platform and would be working to remove any new uploads of the video.