A QAnon supporter in Utah has allegedly abducted her 6-year-old son in an incident marking the latest collision between the pro-Trump conspiracy theory, child custody disputes, and quack “sovereign citizen” legal theories.
Emily Jolley, a self-proclaimed psychic and “mindfulness teacher,” is believed to have taken her son Terran on Sunday, according to the Unified Police Department of Greater Salt Lake. Jolley does not have legal custody of her son, and allegedly abducted him during a once-a-month supervised visitation.
The whereabouts of Jolley and her son are unknown, and an Amber Alert issued for Terran is still active. It’s not clear why Jolley initially lost custody of her son.
But this alleged kidnapping goes beyond a custody dispute.
Instead, it’s the latest in a growing trend of QAnon supporters obsessed with child trafficking and fringe legal theories allegedly kidnapping or planning to kidnap their own children.
In August, The Daily Beast reported on a network of QAnon believers and bogus legal experts across the country who focus on mothers who have lost custody of their children. Convincing the women that their children have been funneled by Child Protective Services into the kind of sex-trafficking networks envisioned in the Pizzagate conspiracy theory, they then tell the women to use ludicrous legal maneuvers borrowed from the anti-government “sovereign citizen” movement.
Sometimes, these custody fights turn criminal. In one case, a QAnon believer in Kentucky allegedly kidnapped her twin daughters, and was later found hiding out with a group of anti-government sovereign citizens. In another, a Colorado mother whose son had been taken to a foster home allegedly plotted an armed raid on the home with QAnon believers, who then used a nationwide network to hide her when she became a fugitive.
Jolley has ties to the sovereign citizen movement, according to Det. Dan Moriarty, a detective investigating Terran’s disappearance.
“The mom does really seem like she aligns with the sovereign citizen stuff,” Moriarty told The Daily Beast.
Jolley’s Facebook page is filled with references to QAnon, the conspiracy theory that imagines that Donald Trump is in a shadowy war against a nefarious cabal of Satanist pedophile-cannibals in the Democratic Party and Hollywood.
In December, Jolley posted an article claiming that Child Protective Services abducts children and drains them of “adrenochrome”—a blood-like substance QAnon believers claim that “cabal” members drink to stay alive.
In April, she posted a movie poster-style meme that juxtaposed a picture of Donald Trump with the letter “Q,” with text claiming that Trump is poised to arrest members of a sinister cabal.
In May, she reposted advice for people “in the Q movement” filled with sovereign citizen-style language that claimed Trump would soon lift all credit card and mortgage debt. Jolley has also posted supposed evidence about “the mass arrests of pedophiles,” claimed there is a “giant human trafficking ring operating in Washington DC,” and posted various QAnon-related articles alleging that various prominent celebrities are sex criminals.
Jolley’s Facebook posts also echo other pro-QAnon parents who have allegedly abducted their children, with references to Child Protective Services’ supposed involvement in human trafficking. And she has one more thing in common with other QAnon parents who have wound up at the center of such cases: She is a member of the Facebook page for E-Clause, a supposed legal services group run by non-lawyers that offers bogus legal tactics similar to those deployed by the sovereign citizen movement. The women accused of child abduction-related crimes in Kentucky and Colorado were also connected to E-Clause.
Timothy Butler, Terran’s father, told a Utah TV station that he suspects Jolley is being harbored by a group of sovereign citizens.
In a Facebook livestream on Tuesday night promoting the effort to locate Terran, Jolley’s twin sister, Erica Wanner, said Jolley became interested in sovereign citizen legal tactics as a way to regain custody of her son.
“That’s when she sought out that sovereignty group,” Wanner said in the Facebook video.
Fake sovereign citizen legal theories appear to have played a role in the abduction. When police asked Jolley’s mother where she had gone, the woman provided them with an apparently bogus document from the “Supreme Court of the Utah Common Law Constitutional Court,” according to a local news report.
There’s no actual legal entity with that name, but sovereign citizens often use the phrase “common law” to prop up their own, fictitious legal systems, suggesting Jolley was trying to deploy “sovereign” legal theories. Moriarty, the detective investigating the case, declined to discuss the “common law” document to protect the ongoing investigation.
Jolley’s mother was later arrested and charged with second-degree felony obstruction of justice over the kidnapping.
On Wednesday, Moriarty said police were still looking for clues about where Jolley and her son could be.
“People just are not talking, and it’s really just gone underground,” Moriarty said.
Alleged child abductions aren’t the only crimes that have been connected to QAnon. An armed man disappointed by the failure of QAnon’s predictions to come true shut down a bridge near the Hoover Dam with an armored truck in 2018. Two murders have been connected to the group, including the slaying of a mafia boss who was reportedly the target of a QAnon believer’s alleged attempt to perform a citizen’s arrest and deliver him to a nonexistent QAnon tribunal.
Despite the crimes connected to QAnon, Trump praised QAnon believers in August, calling them “people who love our country.”