7 year old Ria Ramkissoon moved from the island of Trinidad and Tobago to her mother in America to live a better life, but all went wrong, starting in her mother’s home and continued in other homes.
She ended up purposely starving her one year old son Javon to death on the orders of a christian cult leader, because the child did not say ‘amen’ after prayers and therefore was possessed by a demon.
Speaking for the first time since her arrest and incarceration, Ria who was 19 when her son died, said she wanted to save her son but was fearful that she would be defying God’s will if she did so.
The christian cult leader who called herself Queen Antoinette, had told the young and vulnerable Ramkissoon that her 15 month old son Javon Thompson, needed to be starved because he was possessed by an evil spirit.
Ria said that she thought she would be guaranteed eternal damnation if she did not follow her Christian cult preacher, Queen Antoinette who cited the Bible as her authority.
“It’s like it is somebody else’s life, but it’s not,”
“That is my life, and those are the choices that I’ve made and those were the fears that I dealt with, no matter how ridiculous they may be to somebody else.”
19 year old Ria had been living with the woman for several months when her son did not say ‘amen’ before a meal one morning.
That word was one of the few Javon Thompson could not say at 15 months old, and Antoinette told Ria not to feed him until he said it.
Over the next week, he whimpered and grew sluggish and sallow. By the time Antoinette relented and told Ria to feed the boy, it was too late. Javon died in his mother’s arms.
Investigators discovered his body more than a year later.
The preacher Queen Antoinette is serving a 50 year sentence for second degree murder, and her daughter and another follower are also in prison.
Now living in a faith-based treatment center, Ria Ramkissoon said she knows it’s difficult to comprehend how any mother could watch her son starve. She now freely uses the word ‘crazy’ to describe her actions.
For years, Ria clung to the belief that Javon would be resurrected, as Queen Antoinette said he would.
When Ria pleaded guilty to child abuse resulting in death, she insisted on a provision stating that her plea would be withdrawn if Javon came back to life.
Only since her release from custody last year has she fully let go of that belief, allowing her to properly mourn the boy who would have turned six on Saturday.
“None of that had to happen to him. He’s in a house surrounded by people who are basically doing this to him”
“I felt like if anyone had a responsibility to him there that it was me, and I basically gave that up.”
“So yeah, that’s a difficult thing. To die and to suffer in that kind of way, that’s not easy to have to swallow. That’s something that I’m very much responsible for, as much as anybody else.”
Ria said she joined the christian cult after she became disillusioned with traditional churches in Baltimore where she lived after moving from her native Trinidad aged 7.
She got pregnant around her 18th birthday with her boyfriend who ended up in jail. She claims that during her pregnancy her step-father tried to choke her.
Members of Queen Antoinette’s group took turns recruiting Ria. Though they were withholding details about the arrangement, she was desperate, and their offer began to sound attractive.
“I had a really strong fear that [Javon] was going to get taken away from me if I didn’t know what I was doing,’ she said. ‘That’s kind of when I took things in my own hands.”
In April 2006, Ria asked her mother to drive her and Javon to a park. She packed a few outfits and other supplies for him in a diaper bag.
For herself, she brought nothing but the clothes she wore. Cult members met them and drove them to their home.
Ria stopped answering her cellphone, then turned it off and handed it over to Queen Antoinette, who forbid her followers from going to the doctor.
Queen Antoinette reportedly seemed wary of Javon from the beginning, planting the seeds of doubt in Ria’s mind.
Out of the blue, she would say, ‘There’s something wrong with that child.’
After he refused to say ‘amen’, she said Javon had a ‘spirit of rebellion’ inside him, and that only fasting could exorcise it.
When Javon died in late 2006 or early 2007, Queen Antoinette told her followers to pray for his resurrection. They packed the body into a suitcase. Ria sprayed it with disinfectant and stuffed the suitcase with fabric softener sheets to mask the odor.
Ria said she now realizes that Javon died because of her own decisions, not because of God’s will.
“It is difficult because I don’t think it’s settled, fully, the weight of what was lost.”
Ria said she’s often asked how she can still believe in God. But she credits her faith, and the fellowship she’s found at the treatment center, for allowing her to take control of her life.
“People don’t want to hear me talk about God because of my association with the cult. I may have approached it the wrong way. It doesn’t mean that God isn’t true and that the community and love and family don’t exist in the right way.”
How do you feel about religion?
Through time, believers have used religion to justify mass human slaughter, and they were never treated as criminals or crazies. In fact, the church, Catholics, authorized many killings in the name of religion. Rulers of countries used the law of religion to authorize their invasion of countries and the subsequent slaughter and enslavement of the people.
There were witch hunts and burning on a stake in public. Constantine claimed he saw a cross in the sky that gave him victory in a battle, so he ordered everyone to believe or die by the sword. Others have seen mysterious writings on walls that commanded them to go kill all men, women, children and beasts in towns.
When is it insanity, human greed or criminal? If Abraham was around today and told the cops that a god has commanded him to bind and sacrifice his son, he would immediately be arrested and committed to an asylum. Then there is the inequality of judgement. If an obscure citizen make the claim of hearing from a god, they are ignored and scorned as mad. If the president says god told him to attack Iraq, the whole world accepts it and support. The whole religious culture appears to be man made to control the minds of the masses and misguide them to do the evil deeds.