Javon Thompson
He was about 16 months old at the time of his death
He died between December 2006 and March 2007
Find A Grave Memorial
During his short life, Javon Thompson was not able to learn to how to say "Amen" after he finished his meals. The people who were in charge of his life decided that a fit punishment would be that he not be allowed to eat or to have anything to drink. The religious cult "One Mind Ministries" starved Javon to death, at the age of 15 months, for his inability to learn as fast as they thought he should. It is believed, though not known for sure, that Javon died in December of 2006.

Ria Ramkissoon is the mother of Javon, who was 21 months old when she allowed the cult leaders to starve him to death and then cover up their crime by putting his body into a suitcase and abandoning him in the shed of a stranger.

Children who were taken away from the cult told police that Javon was not allowed to eat or to have anything to eat because he had not been able to say Amen after his meals. Toni Ellsberry, who was also called Queen Antoinette, tried to force Javon to say Amen, when she could not make him, she ordered him to be deprived of food and  water:

"The more the Queen pressed Javon, the more resistant he became"
Homicide Detective - Parker

Two school age children said that he died in the month of December 2006. The children told police that the members of the cult thought that Javon was a demon child and that after he died, they did not seek medical attention for him, his body was placed into a room where they were all told that Javon would be resurrected. 

One of the groups leaders, Toni Ellsberry, who was also called Queen Antoinette, told them that God was going to raise Javon from the dead. Of course God did not. After he did not rise from the dead, Toni burned the mattress he had been laying on as well as the clothes he had been wearing and Javon's body was placed inside of a green suitcase and left there. He was left so long that eventually, his body started to decompose and Toni Ellsberry would open up the suitcase and spray disinfectant inside to hide the odor. Javon's body would remain in the suitcase for over a year.

In February of 2007, the Cult members took off and ended up in Philadelphia, they took the suitcase containing the remains of Javon with them. They stayed in various places and ended up at the home of  Samuel Morgan after they had become friends with him. They stayed with him for about a week. When they left for Brooklyn, New York, they left the suitcase still containing the remains Javon, in a shed behind the mans home.

In April of 2007, a tip from a caseworker with the New York city Administration For Children's Services lead police to the shed behind the mans house. There they found the remains of Javon, still wearing a diaper. On August 9, 2008, Ria Ramkissoon was charged with first degree murder in the death of her son.

On August 12, 2008, Ria Ramkissoon was 21 years old as she stood in court wearing a purple, prison jumpsuit, on charges of first degree murder, child abuse, reckless endangerment and other offenses. Ria, who was also known as Princess Marie within the cult, rocked from side to side and shook her head when the charges were read by Judge Theodore B. Oshrine.

Ria's mother and stepfather said that their daughter had also been a victim of the cult and should not be held responsible for the death of Javon. They said that Ria had to do as she was told:

"She had no control. They made the rules" 

"My daughter was a victim, just like my grandson. She didn't willingly decide, 'I'm going to kill my 
son. It's not like that. Somebody made that decision to not feed that child, and my daughter 
had to follow instructions" 
Seeta Khadan-Newton

'She had no control over that situation at all"
Craig Newton - the stepfather

Steven D. Silverman represented Ria and claimed that that she had been controlled by the other adults in the cult and for that reason, she should receive bail:

"The members of this cult, who were more than twice her age, were calling the shots"
Steven Silverman

The judge said that the charges were very serious and he felt that Ria might attempt to run to Trinidad and denied her bail.

Also facing charges in the death of Lavon were 40 year old Toni Ellsberry, 21 year old Trevia Williams, 21 year old Marcus Cobbs and 21 year old Steven Bynum. Ria's mother was glad to see that other people would face charges in the death of her grandson. All of these people except for Steven Bynum, were arrested in May on charges that they failed to appear in court after a run in with the police over a child custody dispute. All five adults plead not guilty to the charges they faced.

Steven Bynum would later turn himself into the police after he learned of the charges against him. In a move that SHOCKED police and just about everyone involved in this case, Baltimore Circuit Judge A. John Howard agree with Steven's attorney, Catherine Flynn, that he was not a flight risk since he had turned himself in and had no criminal record. Steven was let out of jail on his own recognizance. A gasp was heard in the courtroom after Judge Howard made his ruling. None of the people involved had ever heard of anyone being let out on their own recognizance in a first degree murder case:

“We were just absolutely astonished"
Margaret T. Burns - the Baltimore State spokesperson

Catherine Flynn said that Steven did not have custody of Javon and therefore had not bee responsible for his care or his welfare:

“The state is focusing on the fact that he didn’t call police, he didn’t call social services. But 
that’s not a crime” 

Seeta said that she didn't understand why her daughter joined the cult in the first place.

"I don't think my daughter knew what she was getting into. The baby's father was in jail. She was 
going through a long time."

Ria had said that she joined the cult with promises of a free place to stay and free food.

Seeta Khadan-Newton said that she had last seen her grandson in April of 2006 and that she had filed for custody of him siting that the cult leaders were not allowing her to have contact with her daughter or her grandson. She said that Social Services refused to do anything about her calls telling them that her grandson might be in danger.  She was told that SHE needed to bring THEM proof instead of them going and investigating:

“They told me it’s not their job. They told me I need to get the proof and bring it to them.”

"I spoke to people who would not give me the time of day. They bluntly said to me during one call 
that they needed proof. They said they could not go out. They said I am probably just making it up, 
and it is just hearsay."

"If Social Services and Baltimore City Police Department listened when I was crying for help to 
save that baby, he would have been alive"

Seeta said that for years she had been trying to get the people at Social Services to take her seriously and they refused to do so. She also said that not one time did they take her name or address:

"It crushed me because I knew my little baby was in danger and I was reaching out and nobody 
was concerned about a baby in danger"

Seeta had kept some of Javon's things in hopes that he would return some day. Among those items were clothing, diapers and toys.


The head of Baltimore's Division Of Social Services said that their agency received two calls from people concerned about the welfare of a 15 month old child who had died while his mother had been a member of a religious cult. Molly McGrath, the Chief Operating Officer of the Department Of Social Services said that complaints filed with them were not specific enough for them to take action by doing a thorough investigation into the complaints. Molly McGrath said that their records show a phone call in May of 2006 in which the caller gave an address that was wrong. A second call came in April of 2007, the same month that Javon was found inside the suitcase:

"We cannot find any record to show that we could have intervened before Javon died" 
Molly McGrath

Molly was not able to release the names of those who had called to report on this case, however, she did say that neither of these calls were made by Seeta. She said she couldn't comment any further on the ongoing case. She did make a statement though:

"It' so important that any adult who sees a child who they believe is unsafe, picks up the phone 
and calls us and gives us a much specific information and they can in terms of an address, a time something happened, a date something happened.


Ricky Ramkissoon, Javon's uncle says that as soon that cult found out he had a son, they wanted him to join them.

"They really wanted me after they found out my son was born. They go outside shouting at 
demons, talking to demons, saying that they see stuff on my shoulder. They pray a lot. It 
was more praying to the king and the queen than to the Lord."

Ricky said that the last time he saw his nephew was at a park in East Baltimore. He said he gave his nephew a cookie and was yelled at by members of the cult:

"I gave him an Oreo, and they went crazy, like. He's not allowed to eat anything. My sister was 
crying and said, You can't come here no more"

Ricky also said that the cult believed in smoking marijuana every day:

"They believe they have to smoke weed every day. Put their lips on the baby's lips and blow it in, 
inside the baby. That's what they did to my nephew"

 "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" 

May 18, 2010 1:14 PM
Cult Members Face Sentencing for Starving Toddler Javon Thompson 
to Death for Not Saying "Amen"

BALTIMORE (CBS/AP) Javon Thompson was 16 months old when his mother and three other cult followers effectively ordered his execution by starving the toddler because he didn't say 'Amen" before meals.

Prosecutors say cult leader Queen Antoinette told the mother that denying food would cure her child's rebellious spirit.

Antoinette, her daughter Trevia Williams and fellow cult member Marcus Cobbs face up to 60 years on second-degree murder and child abuse charges at sentencing Tuesday in Baltimore.

Javon's mother, Trinidad-born Ria Ramkissoon, who pleaded guilty in 2009 to child abuse resulting in death, testified that Antoinette said Javon had "a spirit of rebellion" inside him and that denying him food would cure him. She said she believed Antoinette's claim about the evil spirit.

Ramkissoon testified that after Javon died Antoinette ordered her to pray for his resurrection and "nurture him back to life." Ramkissoon said she stayed with the body for weeks, dancing for him and singing to him, even trying to give him water.

When those efforts failed Javon's body was stashed in a suitcase and taken with them when the group relocated to Philadelphia.

Twenty-three-year-old Ramkissoon is already in a residential treatment program for young women as part of an unusual plea bargain, in which her plea will be withdrawn if the child comes back to life.

According to the Huffington Post, law experts and psychiatrists said there was no problem with the agreement because Ramkissoon was mentally competent and freely entered into the deal, and extreme religious beliefs aren't deemed insane by law.

"To say that someone is crazy because they have beliefs is very difficult," said Dr. Jonas Rappeport, a retired forensic psychiatrist and the former chief medical officer for Baltimore Circuit Court. "If I believe that God wants me to starve my child, that gets close to the edge, but it's very questionable as to calling that an illness that would exonerate someone for a crime."

3 guilty in cult trial, starvation of toddler
Toddler denied food, water because he didn’t say ‘Amen’ during meals

BALTIMORE — The leader of a household that authorities described as a religious cult was convicted Tuesday along with two other people of starving a 1-year-old boy to death because he did not say "Amen" during a mealtime prayer.

Jurors convicted the leader, Queen Antoinette, 41, of second-degree murder and child abuse resulting in the death of Javon Thompson, who was 15 or 16 months old when he died in December 2006 or January 2007.

Antoinette's daughter, Trevia Williams, 22, and another follower, Marcus A. Cobbs, 23, were also found guilty of second-degree murder and child abuse resulting in death. Cobbs was also convicted of accessory after the fact.

The defendants face up to 60 years in prison when they are sentenced May 18.

Javon wasted away before the eight-person household, according to testimony. His heart stopped beating after a week or more without food, his mother, Ria Ramkissoon, testified.

After Javon died, according to witnesses, Antoinette told her followers to pray for his resurrection and ordered Ramkissoon to "nurture him back to life." Ramkissoon testified that she still believes Javon will rise from the dead, saying she didn't care if it makes her sound crazy.

Ramkissoon said she stayed with Javon's body for weeks after he died, talking to him, dancing for him, even trying to give him water. Ultimately, according to testimony, the group members stashed Javon's body in a suitcase and relocated to Philadelphia, where they stayed briefly with an elderly man. The suitcase was stored in a shed behind the man's home for more than a year.

In their closing arguments, Antoinette and Cobbs accused prosecutors and the media of conspiring to condemn them.

"We've been like pariahs," Antoinette said. "These people want to blame someone for this child's death, so they've chosen us."

Witnesses said Antoinette claimed to speak to God and ran a tightly controlled household. Among the rules: Group members dressed in only white, blue and khaki. They left the house only in pairs, they destroyed identification documents and cut off contact with relatives. And they were encouraged to smoke marijuana, which Antoinette called "God's weed."

Even her name, she said, was given to her by God. Although she was arrested and charged under the name Queen Antoinette, prosecutors said her real name is Toni Sloan. Her former boyfriend testified that he continued to refer to her as Toni despite her preferred new name.

Williams was referred to as "Princess Trevia," and Cobbs was "Prince Marcus." Ramkissoon was known as "Princess Marie."

When Javon died, the household also included Antoinette's three other children and Danielle Smith, a friend of Ramkissoon's. Smith testified that Cobbs had her committed to a psychiatric hospital in New York after she began telling outsiders about Javon's death. She ultimately led police to his body. 

Experts: Cult member not insane despite odd plea
March 31, 2009

BALTIMORE —  A former religious cult member who helped starve her son to death believes he will be resurrected, but legal experts say her extreme faith doesn't make her criminally insane. The mother made an extraordinary deal with prosecutors Monday that her guilty plea to child abuse resulting in death will be withdrawn if her 1-year-old son, Javon Thompson, comes back to life. Law experts and psychiatrists said there was no problem with the agreement because Ria Ramkissoon, 22, was mentally competent and freely entered into the deal, and extreme religious beliefs aren't deemed insane by law.

"To say that someone is crazy because they have beliefs is very difficult," said Dr. Jonas Rappeport, a retired forensic psychiatrist and the former chief medical officer for Baltimore Circuit Court. "If I believe that God wants me to starve my child, that gets close to the edge, but it's very questionable as to calling that an illness that would exonerate someone for a crime."

The boy died more than two years ago when cult members stopped feeding him because he refused to say "Amen" after a meal, according to a statement of facts. His body was hidden in a suitcase packed with mothballs and fabric softener sheets behind a home in Philadelphia for more than a year.

On Monday, Ramkissoon answered a series of questions from Baltimore Circuit Judge Timothy J. Doory about whether she understood what she was doing when she pleaded guilty. A court psychiatrist wrote she was both competent to stand trial and criminally responsible for her son's death.

David Gray, a law professor at the University of Maryland, said he had never heard of prosecutors making a promise they knew they wouldn't have to keep. But he couldn't envision a legal challenge to the plea deal.

The psychiatrist was right to find Ramkissoon competent despite her insistence on her son's resurrection, Gray said.

"There is a long-standing distinction in the criminal law between fanatical religious belief and hearing commands from God," he said. "If she just subscribes to extreme religious beliefs, then that's not insanity. That's a decision to violate the law."

The plea deal was a good one for Ramkissoon, who was initially charged with first-degree murder. She received a suspended 20-year sentence and only has to remain in custody until she testifies against four co-defendants who are charged with first-degree murder in her son's death. She could be out of prison in August, serving about a year behind bars.

"Ria will be out of jail in a matter of a couple months and will still benefit from psychiatric services, cult deprogramming and whatever other services would be beneficial to her," said her attorney Steven D. Silverman.

Prosecutors are eager to have her testify because their case against the other cult members is largely circumstantial.

The plea agreement also calls for Ramkissoon to meet with Rick Ross, who has studied cults for more than 25 years and counsels former cult members. Ross said cult members often take years to realize how they've been manipulated. They exhibit behavior that "seems crazy to us because we're outside the control of the group and the environment of the group," Ross said. "In reality, what we're actually seeing is an individual under undue influence."

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