Child’s body found in Pa. raises fear of kin here

The family began to worry in April 2006.

That is when Ria Reshma-Ramkissoon left home with her 18-month-old son, Javon Thompson, cut off access to relatives and moved in with a tiny religious group based in East Baltimore, said Colleen Khadan, a sister.

This week, relatives learned that the child might have been killed — his remains left in a suitcase in a Philadelphia house. Those remains have not been positively identified, and the family, while holding out hope, fears that the child’s death could be connected to the group that Reshma-Ramkissoon joined.

“We didn’t even know she joined a cult at first,” Khadan said. “We thought that she was missing. My mother had fliers made up.”

In May 2006, a month after Reshma-Ramkissoon left her Baltimore home, the boy’s grandmother, Seeta Khadan-Newton, filed for custody, according to computerized court records. The case appeared to be stymied because the infant’s mother would not accept efforts to deliver court summonses.

“We just wanted Javon back. My mother was so close to this baby. She’s been going crazy trying to get help to find him,” Khadan said last night.

Khadan says she has not seen or spoken to her sister or her nephew since they moved in with the religious group two years ago. She said she does not know how to contact her.

In February, Baltimore homicide detectives, acting on a tip, contacted Khadan’s mother and told her that the child was probably dead, Khadan said.

This week, Baltimore homicide detectives traveled to Philadelphia, where they are trying to determine whether the remains of an 18-month-old boy found at a house in the 700 block of S. 13th St. are those of Javon.

A man who lives in the home told Philadelphia TV station WPVI that he permitted a family of five from Baltimore to stay at his house. Yesterday, a Philadelphia medical examiner ruled that the child was a victim of a homicide.

Sterling Clifford, a Baltimore police spokesman, said that the department is awaiting DNA testing to be sure of the child’s identity. He would not make any additional comments on the case.

But family members who have been in touch with homicide detectives from Baltimore and Philadelphia fear the worst.

Khadan said that her brother had some contact with their sister because the religious group recruited him for a while until he started asking questions.

“He started questioning little things. ‘Why are you doing this? Why are you doing that?'” Khadan recalled.

Khadan does not know the name of the group but said its members identify themselves as Christian and do not believe in health care or formal education. She said that she fears that the boy was starved to death for some reason.

“The leader is the queen and everyone else is prince and princess,” Khadan said. “I know the queen has other children in there.”

“We’re still in the whole shock phase,” Khadan said. “We don’t know what conditions she’s living under.”

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Religion News Blog posted this on Thursday May 1, 2008.
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