Police in Pennsylvania have offered grim new details in the case involving a 32-year-old man who was charged earlier this week with killing and decapitating his father after showing off the severed head in a video posted to YouTube.
How the grisly killing unfolded
At a press conference Friday, Bucks County District Attorney Jennifer Schorn said that Justin Daniel Mohn was acting with a “clear mind” when he killed and dismembered his father, Michael Mohn, at the family’s home in Middletown Township, just north of Philadelphia. The 68-year-old worked for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Daniel Mohn lived at home with his parents.
Schorn said that Michael Mohn’s wife came home on Tuesday night to find her husband’s body, then ran to a neighbor’s house and called 911. When police arrived, officers found a decapitated “elderly male in the downstairs bathroom with a large amount of blood around him.” A machete and a large knife were located in the bathtub, and a head “wrapped in Saran Wrap” was discovered in the next room.
Mohn’s wife told police that she had left around 2 p.m. and that her husband and son were the only people at home. She also reported that her husband’s Toyota Corolla was missing when she returned.
A disturbing YouTube video
Around the same time, police received multiple calls alerting authorities to a disturbing 14-and-a-half-minute video posted to YouTube showing Justin Mohn displaying Michael Mohn’s severed head while claiming his father was a “traitor to his country” and urging members of “Mohn’s militia” and “patriots around the country” to take up arms against other federal employees, including a federal judge whose address he disclosed.
The video had been viewed at least 5,000 times before it was taken down, Schorn said.
After viewing the YouTube video, investigators confirmed “the gloves, decapitated head, and room are the same as depicted in the video,” the affidavit says.
In a statement Wednesday, YouTube said “the video was removed for violating our graphic violence policy” and that Mohn’s YouTube channel was “terminated in line with our violent extremism policies.”
“Our teams are closely tracking to remove any re-uploads of the video,” the company added.
Suspect fled to military base
Schorn said police were able to quickly ping Justin Mohn’s cellphone and locate the missing vehicle, which had been driven past barricades at a military installation in Fort Indiantown Gap, which is about 110 miles west of Middletown Township.
According to Schorn, Mohn abandoned the vehicle, climbed over a barbed wire fence and entered the base, where he was taken into custody.
He had a loaded 9 mm Sig Sauer handgun that was missing one round at the time of his arrest, Schorn said, adding that he had purchased the weapon legally the day before the killing and had even surrendered his medical marijuana card in order to buy it.
Mohn told authorities that he had gone to the outpost “in an effort to mobilize the Pa. National Guard to raise arms against the federal government,” and that he was attempting to contact Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro to get the state to support that effort.
Autopsy confirms beheading after fatal shooting
An autopsy performed Thursday determined that Michael Mohn died of a gunshot wound to the head, and that his head was subsequently removed using a machete.
Justin Mohn was quickly charged with his father’s murder and abusing his corpse. He is being held without bail at a correction facility in Bucks County.
He has no history of diagnosed mental health issues, Schorn said.
“It was evident to us that he was of clear mind in his purpose,” she said, adding: “There is a complete and utter difference between what we would term 'that person's crazy' and legal insanity. And that will be evident later when we prosecute this matter."
Suspect had little history with police
At the press conference, Middletown Township Police confirmed that they had three prior contacts with the suspect, but none resulted in charges.
In 2011, police responded to Justin Mohn’s home after a reported argument with a neighbor. In 2019, Mohn reported that he received a threat from Progressive Insurance over a lawsuit he had filed against the company. And in 2023, Mohn’s employer in Philadelphia called police in Middletown Township to express “concern” and ask police for advice about terminating him. The employer was referred to outside legal resources and the Philadelphia police.
According to NBC News, Mohn published a series of books filled with anti-government rhetoric:
One book, titled “The Revolution Leader’s Survival Guide,” includes “the transcript of a letter to then-President Donald Trump warning of “a peaceful revolution helped by the author if positive change does not come to America and the world soon.”
The horrific case comes amid another divisive election season led by Trump, who is vowing retribution against the Biden administration and federal agencies, including the Department of Justice, which is prosecuting him for his efforts to overturn the 2020 election.