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The $2 million home is one of Davidson’s grandest. Strangers claimed it, police say.

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Two people were arrested after Davidson police say they moved into and claimed to own one of the most prominent homes, that of a former mayor, in the northern Mecklenburg County town.

The stately home, now vacant and for sale for $2 million, sits on 6 acres on a knoll off Davidson’s busy Concord Road. Davidson police say and Mecklenburg County property records show it is owned by the family of Russell Knox, a 14-year Davidson mayor who died in 2002. Knox’s son, Rusty Knox, is Davidson’s current mayor.

Davidson police said in a statement that the two people arrested claim allegiance to the Moorish Nation, whose followers claim to be “sovereign citizens” who are immune to many federal and state laws.

A self-described Moorish National who led up to eight other adults and children in occupying a vacant, 5,200-square-foot home in Charlotte’s Piper Glen neighborhood for three months in 2015 was convicted of trespassing and breaking and entering, the Observer has reported.

In the Davidson case, a Knox family member discovered two people inside the home just before midnight Friday and reported a breaking and entering in progress, Police Chief Penny Dunn said in a statement.

Dunn said in the statement that the suspects, Turmaine Tyron Thorne, 29, and Taqiyah Barber, 34, had plucked a hidden key from a nearby planter to get into the house sometime after 3:30 p.m. Friday. Within hours, she said, the two unloaded personal belongings and furniture from a 26-foot U-Haul truck and moved into the house.

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Turmaine Tyron Thorne Mecklenburg County Sheriff's Office

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Taqiyah Barber Mecklenburg County Sheriff's Office

When officers arrived, Dunn said, Thorne and Barber refused to let them inside. Officers got a key, and permission to enter, from the Knox family and arrested both without incident.

The Southern Poverty Law Center says the Moorish sovereign citizen movement emerged in the early 1990s.

“Moorish sovereigns espouse an interpretation of sovereign doctrine that African Americans constitute an elite class within American society with special rights and privileges that convey on them a sovereign immunity placing them beyond federal and state authority,” the center’s website says.

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8417 Kelly Woods Lane in Charlotte’s Piper Glen neighborhood off Rea Road. Davie Hinshaw dhinshaw@charlotteobserver.com

Davidson police say that on Jan. 3, the day before their arrests, Thorne and Barber had filed a quit-claim deed, a legal document that transfers ownership of real estate, asserting that they own the Knox house. The Knox family provided proof showing they still own the property, police said.

Mecklenburg County tax records show that the 4,500-square-foot house is owned by a Knox family trust.

Thorne and Barber were both charged with breaking and entering and resisting a public officer, the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office says. Both were released on $2,000 bond Saturday, records show.

Davidson police continue to investigate, Dunn said.

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