Cult Murder Suspect's Mom: It's Not Her Fault

Murdered Boy's Grandmother Recalls How Cult Snatched Her Daughter Two Years Ago

ABC News/August 12, 2008

They wore all white, refused medical care, referred to themselves with titles such as "Princess" and "Queen," talked to the walls and attempted to banish demons.

From the moment that Ria Ramkissoon and her baby boy Javon joined the tiny religious cult, 1 Mind Ministries, in April 2006, her life would change irrevocably.

Now, the 21-year-old woman is sitting in the psychiatric unit of a city jail in Baltimore accused by police of slowly starving her son to death and allowing cult members to beat him for disobeying orders such as saying "amen" at meals.

After he stopped breathing in his mother's arms, they stuffed Javon's body into a green suitcase, which cult leader "Queen Antoinette" occasionally sprayed with Lysol to cover up the stench, drove to Philadelphia and left the suitcase inside a shed where it sat for a year until police made the gruesome discovery in April, according to a statement of charges.

In total, five members of the cult, including Ramkissoon, have been charged with murder. Three members -- Queen Antoinette, Trevia Williams and Marcus Cobbs -- are already in jail and federal marshals in the New York area are searching for a fourth member, Steven Bynum.

A bail hearing for Ramkissoon, who is charged with first- and second-degree murder, child abuse, assault, reckless endangerment and conspiracy, is set for today.

Ramkissoon, who was also known as Princess Marie, called her mother Sunday, the first time they have talked in several years.

"She sounded like an empty shell," Seeta Khadan-Newton told "She sounded like she was going to die. She said she didn't know how this happened, that it wasn't supposed to happen that way& She's not doing well. She had a confrontation with somebody, and she's in the psychiatric ward right now."

Khadan-Newton still remembers that fateful day in 2006 when she dropped off her daughter and grandson at a house in West Baltimore, assuming that a babysitter lived there to take care of the boy while Ramkissoon went to school.

"They told me not to come back to get her because they would drive her home. When I called later that day, I left a message, and I never heard from her. Javon was only 7 months old," recalled the 59-year old native of Trinidad.

When she returned to the house two days later with a police officer, Khadan-Newton says her daughter was already transformed.

"She just stood there with her hands down like she was drugged up," she says. "I was screaming and crying and she just stood there -- Ria used to be such a lively, jolly person -- and the other people would not let me see the baby."

Khadan-Newton says she spent the next two years trying to rescue her daughter and grandson, contacting the police and social services, but claims that cult members would ignore the court papers sent to the home.

The group's practices were notorious in their neighborhood where local residents recalled the shouting and screaming that would come from their home.

"You'd hear it in the middle of the night - loud noises and chanting," said one neighbor who declined to be identified. "They were real strange - they'd wear all white or camouflage and talk about demons and devils all the time. People just left them alone."

Cult experts contacted by were unfamiliar with the group.

Khadan-Newton says she only found out about Javon's death when one of the cult member's sisters was committed to a mental institution and contacted her parents about the child's murder.

She insists that her daughter was also a victim and was coerced into starving Javon. "The leader of the cult -- Queen Antoinette -- made the decision. She was the one that said, 'Do not feed him,' and would beat Javon and put him in a back room."

The child was denied food and water and became thin with dark circles under his eyes, according to a statement of charges filed by Detective Vernon Parker. When he stopped breathing, cult members were instructed to pray around Javon's body, according to Parker.

"The Queen told everyone that 'God was going to raise Javon from the dead,'" according to the document. "That resurrection never took place."

Cult member Bynum then rented a silver Chevrolet Impala and drove to Philadelphia with other group members and the corpse, according to Parker. After being evicted from a Red Roof Inn, they lived on the streets before meeting Samuel Morgan, an elderly man who allowed them to stay at his home for one week.

Leaving behind the suitcase, cult members moved on to Brooklyn, where three cult members were arrested on accusations of assaulting an officer who was attempting to retrieve a child involved in a custody dispute from their home.

Javon's body was finally discovered after Baltimore police received a tip from a caseworker with New York's child welfare authority.

Khadan-Newton still harbors sweet memories of her grandson, for whom she is planning a memorial service at a local church once his remains are returned from Philadelphia. "He was such a nice little boy. I got him a swing, and he used to love to be on that swing. And he had a playpen with a teddy bear and once he got in there, the first thing he would do was talk to that teddy bear."

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