Christian cults are proliferating and turning inhuman. A young Romanian mother has been arrested in the US for starving her 2-year-old son to death as he would not say "Amen" after he was fed.
He was not being sufficiently grateful to god perhaps because he was a demon. And a demon had to be destroyed, Ria Ramkissoon, 21 and her compatriots in 1 Mind Ministries of Baltimore decided. So they simply starved him to death. The body of the boy, Jayon Thompson, was subsequently discovered stashed in a suitcase in Philadelphia 18 months later.
Apart from the mother, others charged in the crime are Queen Antoinette, 40, Trevia Williams, 20, Marcus Cobbs, 21, and Steven Bynum, 42. All but Bynum are in jail on other charges, and the Warrant Apprehension Task Force is looking for Bynum in the New York area, said Sterling Clifford, a spokesman for the city's Police Department.
In a 12-page statement of charges written over the weekend by homicide Detective Vernon Parker, it is stated that the five suspects belonged to a small group of adults and children who operated for a time in East and West Baltimore.
Parker had talked to two children who were taken away from the cult by Philadelphia police and another unidentified informant.
Parker says the Queen Antoinette, leader of the group, "had a problem with baby Javon, who would not comply with mealtime ritual by saying 'Amen' after meals...The more the Queen pressed Javon, the more resistant he became."
Jayon's food was stopped in December 2006 - when he was about 15 months old.
The child stopped getting food and water, and he became thin with dark circles under his eyes, according to the document. No medical care was sought for the toddler when he stopped breathing. He died in his mother's arms. At one point everyone was instructed to pray around the baby's body.
"The Queen told everyone that 'God was going to raise Javon from the dead,'" according to Parker's statement of charges. But of course the resurrection never took place.
Afterwards, Antoinette burned the clothing and mattress and placed his body in a green suitcase, which she would periodically open and spray with disinfectant to mask the stench, according to Parker.
From Baltimore to Philadelphia and then to Brooklyn, the cult's wanderings continued. At Philadelphia they had befriended a man in whose property they left behind the suitcase.
After receiving a tip from a caseworker with the New York City Administration for Children's Services in early February, Baltimore homicide detectives traveled to Philadelphia and uncovered that suitcase in early May, Baltimore Sun reports.
DNA evidence provided preliminary confirmation that the remains are those of Javon, according to a police source close to the investigation. Authorities are awaiting complete results.
In early May, three members of the group -- including its alleged leader, Toni Ellsberry, also known as Queen Antoinette -- were arrested in Brooklyn, N.Y., on outstanding warrants connected to an unrelated Baltimore case in which they allegedly assaulted a city officer who had gone to their home to retrieve a child involved in a custody dispute.
The suspects were returned to Baltimore and held on charges that they had failed to show up for a court date. Ramkissoon, also known as Princess Marie, was to have a bail hearing in District Court in Baltimore Monday, but the proceeding was postponed because she was under psychiatric observation at the Women's Detention Center, according to court and correctional officials, Baltimore Sun reports.
Her mother Seeta Khadan-Newton says Ramkissoon was not behind the decision to stop feeding the boy.
'My daughter was a victim, just like my grandson,' Khadan-Newton said.
'Somebody made that decision to not feed that child, and my daughter had to follow instructions.'
According to court documents, Ramkissoon joined 1 Mind Ministries after Javon was born.
Ms Khadan-Newton last saw her in April 2006; she later sued for custody of her grandson, writing in a letter to a judge that 'the cult leaders' were preventing her from contacting her daughter.
She still struggles with why her daughter joined the group. "I don't think my daughter knew what she was getting into," she said. "The baby's father was in jail. She was going through a tough patch for a long time."