Women in child starvation case under sway of ‘Christ is here’ pastor

Two women arrested after one of their daughters died of malnutrition were under the influence of a small religious sect, relatives say.

The leader of the group, Emanyel Rezireksyon Kris, has not been charged.

The Star-Ledger, of Newark, New Jersey, reports:

In the barren rooms where the horror played out, all was white.

White paint on the walls and ceiling. White sheets and blankets on the floor. White cloth across the windows. White robes on the dead and dying children.
This was the makeshift house of worship where Venette Ovilde and her roommate practiced their unusual brand of faith, one espoused by a shrouded, would-be baker who called himself pastor and who held court during services there every day.

Once an ordinary apartment on a busy Irvington street, it is where authorities said 8-year-old Christiana Glenn, starved and gaunt, died of a broken femur that went untreated. And it is where Christiana’s two younger siblings — a 6-year-old boy and a 7-year-old girl — slowly wasted away, their own broken bones unseen by a doctor.

According to the paper relatives of Ovilde and her roommate spoke of the all-consuming influence wielded by the pair’s spiritual leader, Emanyel Rezireksyon Kris — a name which in Haitian Creole means “Christ is here.”

Ovilde, 29, has been charged with aggravated manslaughter and child endangerment in Christiana’s death. She faces additional counts for allegedly injuring and neglecting her two younger children.

Ovilde’s roommate, Myriam Janvier, 23, is charged only with child endangerment. Both women remain in the Essex County Jail.

Prosecutors have said all three children showed signs of abuse and severe malnutrition. While authorities declined to release additional information today, two law enforcement sources with knowledge of the investigation said at least one of the children had ligature marks on his or her body, indicating the child had been tied up at some point. […]

Family members … spoke today of the sway Rezireksyon Kris held over his small congregation of women and of how the spiritual leader transformed them. […]

It was about three years ago when Ovilde and Janvier met Rezireksyon Kris, 37, who has not been charged or named a suspect in the case. He declined to comment when approached by a reporter Tuesday, saying only, “May God bless you.”

In short order, the relatives said, the women had embraced his small sect, which he called “Walking With Christ.”

They began wearing robes and headscarves, carried Bibles wherever they went and engaged in long, loud prayer sessions, their singsong chants audible from the street.

In July 2010, Ovilde legally changed her name to Krisla Rezireksyon Kris, court documents show. The name, drawn from Haitian Creole, roughly translates to “Christ is here.” Ovilde legally gave her children the same last name.

In Ovilde’s new life, Christiana Glenn became Kristiana Rezireksyon Kris.

Janvier is not known to have changed her name, relatives said, but she was also initially a believer in Emanyel Rezireksyon Kris, who is in the process of opening a Haitian-style bakery on North Avenue in Union Township. His home is nearby.

Little by little, the relatives said, Janvier withdrew from her family.

Landlord William Weathers discusses Venette Ovilde, who police have charged with the death of her 8-year-old daughter Christiana.

Reports of neglect made against mother of Irvington girl who died, but charges not substantiated

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Religion News Blog posted this on Friday May 27, 2011.
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