‘My vulnerable daughter became racist and was murdered after joining hate church – and killer still won’t reveal where her body is’

‘My vulnerable daughter became racist and was murdered after joining hate church – and killer still won’t reveal where her body is’


TO the outside world, Joy Morgan was a bubbly, kind young midwifery student who was dedicated to the church and helping others.

But her church – the Israel United in Christ church – has been described as a “hate church” – where the congregation are reportedly taught that white people are the devil and women are oppressed and forbidden from wearing trousers.

Joy was an outgoing, happy student before she joined the controversial group
Hertfordshire Police

And it was at this church – the IUIC – that Joy would meet the man who would go on to murder her in cold blood.

Now, nearly 10 months after she disappeared, her killer still refuses to say where her body lies – and a BBC Radio 1 Newsbeat documentary has investigated the case and the controversial church which her family describe as a “cult.”

Describing the moment she began to noticed a change in Joy, her sister, Dionne says: “She came to separate herself from her family, which had been important to her… it just seems like a cult and she just got swept away in it.”

Joy’s sister Dionne says she noticed a change in her sister as soon as she joined the church

Forbidden from wearing trousers 

Joy, 20, was training to be a midwife at the University of Hertfordshire when she went missing on December 26 last year. 

The last time she was seen was at an event run by the Israel United in Christ church, an organisation that stemmed from the USA and has operated from Ilford, east London, since 2017. 

It is part of a wider “Black Hebrew Israelite” movement which preaches that black, Hispanic and Native American people are the descendants of the biblical 12 tribes of Israel, and that all other ethnic groups will eventually become their servants. 

It also has a strict hierarchy for its male members, giving them titles like “bishop” and “captain” whereas the women – who are forbidden from wearing trousers –  are known simply as “Sisters.”

It has been called a “hate group” and a “black nationalist group” by various civil rights organisations.

The Israel United in Christ church

The Israel United in Christ church was founded in America in 2003.

They’re led by Bishop Nathanyel Ben Israel.

The church teaches that black and Hispanic people are the “biblical 12 tribes of the nation of Israel”.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors US hate and extremist groups, includes the church in a list of “black nationalist hate groups”.

The Hainault Street branch in east London, which Morgan attended with about 150 members, is one of two in the UK, with another in the West Midlands.The Israel United in Christ church was founded in America in 2003.

They’re led by Bishop Nathanyel Ben Israel.

The church teaches that black and Hispanic people are the “biblical 12 tribes of the nation of Israel”.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors US hate and extremist groups, includes the church in a list of “black nationalist hate groups”.

The Hainault Street branch in east London, which Joy attended has approximately 150 members.

It’s one of two in the UK, with another in the West Midlands.

Shohfah-El Israel was convicted for Joy’s murder, but her body has never been found
PA:Press Association

‘She made us feel diseased’ 

Joy joined the church at 17, and her family say she changed immediately.

Her mum, Carol Morgan, said: “It was unbearable. [She thought] we were ‘dirty people’ because we were not converted to the faith. 

“That meant we were sinners. She would make you feel like you were diseased. That’s how bad it was.”

Joy, who grew up in Battersea, south London, found the group following the deaths of her uncle, her step-dad and her father. 

Dionne said:  “She had a lot of tragic losses so she was very vulnerable. She wanted to feel part of something.”

Since her death, footage has emerged of her speaking at an event, saying: “IUIC is my family and like the best family I’ve ever had.” 

Joy’s mum Carol has been left devastated by Joy’s death

‘She began to call her sister a ‘white devil’

She very quickly threw herself into the organisation, watching videos of speeches by its American elders online until the early hours of the morning. 

Worried about Joy’s behaviour, Carol turned the broadband of to stop her.

But it was too late – Joy had already been brainwashed and things took a nasty turn when she started calling her mixed race sister a “white devil.”

Mortified, Carol told Joy she was a racist and that she needed to leave the church – or leave home. 

She said: “I blatantly called my daughter racist.

“The moment she called my other daughter a demon because she is mixed race I said ‘No’.

“I took her laptop away and that’s when things got to the point of arguments and she left. She went homeless.”

Joy was housed by the council until she moved into university accommodation. 

Joy began to change around her family, who were once so important to her

‘I will never not feel guilty’ 

Last December she refused to attend a family gathering, but the first Carol knew something was seriously wrong was when Joy’s landlord called in February to say Joy had not paid her rent. 

She had not been seen for six weeks. 

Carol had assumed Joy was living her life at university, and although she had tried to get in touch, she assumed there was something wrong with either her phone or Joy’s. 

She said: “All of a sudden it was, ‘Hang on, it’s been six weeks,’ I will never not feel guilty, until the day they bury me.”

Two days after Joy’s disappearance was reported missing, and on February 9, this year, fellow IUIC member Shohfah-El Israel was arrested. 

The 40-year-old from Nigeria explained that he had given Joy a lift to her home on December 26 and that she was fine when he left.

He said she had been threatening to leave the church and he tried to persuade her not to.

He claimed he and his wife were friends with Joy.

He was taken in for questioning by police and when Joy’s house keys were found in his car he was arrested on suspicion of murder.

Israel’s car was then found to have been driving around Stevenage on the night of her disappearance, and the locations tallied with a signal from Joy’s phone. 

Tragically, Joy’s body has never been found
Hertfordshire Police

Statement from Israel United in Christ

“Israel United in Christ (IUIC) in the matter of the missing persons case of Joy Morgan, would like to note our sympathies with the family and we have been praying for her wellbeing and that she be found.

Recent local news reports and some individuals have misconstrued IUIC’s involvement into the investigation.

IUIC cooperated and continues to cooperate fully with law enforcement.”

‘Why did no one call the police?’

Police then started to focus their investigation in Stevenage – and specialist search teams and police dogs carried out searches in woodland on the outskirts of the town.

The family handed out leaflets, desperate for information.

Further phone evidence showed that Joy’s phone and the defendant’s phone were in his flat in Cricklewood together for two nights after she went missing.

He then admitted he had taken Joy back to his place where she slept on the sofa.

“The reason I didn’t bring it up before was because of my wife and people getting the wrong idea,” he told police.

An instant messaging group used by members of the church showed Joy’s phone number had left the group around the same time.

Assuming she had gone through with her threat to leave IUIC, no one from the church contacted the police to voice any concerns. 

Outside Reading Crown Court during Joy’s murder trial last month, Carol demanded of IUIC members: “Why did none of you phone the local authorities? Isn’t that a Christian thing to do? A real Christian thing. To care about another human being enough to call the police.”

The church released a statement, saying: “Joy not being around us has left a void in our hearts and we miss her dearly.

“People in the congregation that have appeared to be grounded have left without any notice. Joy appeared to fall into this category.

“Although her profile was removed from the telegram groups she was a part of, her status was still displaying ‘online’ when members of the congregation were trying to contact her.

“All indication pointed to her leaving the church or wanting time away, not being in danger.”

Now, Joy’s family only have memories of the happy child she used to be

On August 5, Israel was found guilty of Joy’s murder and sentenced to a minimum of 17 years. 

Mark Fenhalls, QC, for the prosecution, said that Israel was a “thoroughly dishonest and manipulative man”.

Judge Michael Soole told Israel, who had denied murder: “Only you know the circumstances of your terrible deed and why you did it.”

Despite Carol’s pleas, he refuses to reveal where her daughter’s body is. 

Police searches have covered hundreds of acres of land to no avail. 

Carol is clinging onto hope that Joy will be found. “I’ve got to have something to live for,” she said. 

As for the IUIC, she believes it should be destroyed. 

She said: “I don’t respect the church. It just needs to be knocked down and taken apart because they are going on that men are the top and women are beneath them and that’s it.”

A statement from the IUIC denied it was a hate group, saying “at no point do we teach against the laws of the land or authorities.”

As to the lack of concern when Joy went missing, it said: “All indications pointed to her leaving the church or wanting time away, not being in danger.”


It has booted Israel out of the church, calling his conduct “disgraceful and not in line with church principles.”

It added that it was an “isolated incident,” and said;  “We will make this clear though, Israel United in Christ cares strongly about the well-being and safety of all our members and constantly strive to ensure improved safety procedures are in place. 

“We want the world to know that we seek to follow the laws of the land when not conflicting with the laws of the most high.”

Watch BBC Radio 1 Newsbeat documentary “The Murder of Joy Morgan” on BBC iPlayer from today, Friday 6 September. 

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