- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 12, 2008

BALTIMORE (AP) | A toddler whose remains were found inside a suitcase in Philadelphia in the spring was starved to death by members of a religious cult, including his mother, in part because he refused to say “amen” after meals, police said.

Ria Ramkissoon, the mother of Javon Thompson, was charged Sunday with first-degree murder in the boy’s death, and Baltimore police said Monday that three other members of a group called 1 Mind Ministries have also been charged with first-degree murder. Police and Miss Ramkissoon’s family say the group is a cult.

Members did not seek medical care for Javon when he stopped breathing, and the boy died in his mother’s arms, according to court documents that described police interviews with a confidential informant and two children. He would have been about 15 months old when police say adults stopped feeding him in December 2006.

Miss Ramkissoon, 21, was being held Monday in the psychiatric ward of Baltimore’s Central Booking and Intake Center, and a bail review was postponed until Tuesday. Her public defender declined comment.

Miss Ramkissoon’s mother, Seeta Khadan-Newton, told the Baltimore Sun on Sunday that it wasn’t her daughter’s decision not to feed the boy.

“My daughter was a victim, just like my grandson,” Miss Khadan-Newton said. “Somebody made that decision to not feed that child, and my daughter had to follow instructions.”

Members of 1 Mind Ministries wore all white, swore off medical care and referred to some members with titles such as queen and princess, according to court documents. The group also was accused of insisting that a pregnant woman give birth without access to doctors.

Miss Ramkissoon joined 1 Mind Ministries after Javon was born.

In early 2007, the group members left Baltimore for Philadelphia. They left the green suitcase and other luggage inside a shed belonging to a man whom they befriended while there, police said, and then relocated to Brooklyn, N.Y.

Police recovered the suitcase in April after they got a tip from the confidential informant. The remains of a small child were inside. DNA tests are pending to confirm the boy’s identity.

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