Baltimore, MD — A former religious cult member has agreed to an unheard-of plea deal: She has plead guilty and will testify against four others in the starving death of her 1-year-old son but reserves the right to rescind her plea if her son rises from the dead.
Ria Ramkissoon, 22, a native of Trinidad, is the prime witness in the Maryland’s case against Queen Antoinette, 40, who purportedly lead the now-disbanded One Mind Ministries religious cult out of a Baltimore row house. Prosecutors allege that Antoinette instructed cult members, including Ramkissoon, to deny the child, Javon Thompson, food and water as punishment for the child not saying “Amen.”
Prosecutors allege that Antoinette, believing that Ramkissoon would be weak and feed the child or give him water, instructed Javon be given to another cult member who followed her food-and-water-denial instructions. After the eventual death of the child, the cult members prayed over the body and the mother danced around it. When that didn’t succeed in raising the child from the dead, two cult members purchased a wheeled suitcase in which to carry the child. Ramkissoon’s attorney said that the cult believed that the child could be raised from the dead at a later date if they could carry the body with them. The cult moved to Philadelphia and asked a men they’d befriended there to store their luggage, and police found the body in a shed behind the man’s house.
Javon’s father, Robert Thompson, did not attend the plea agreement hearing due to illness, and is reported to have been incarcerated at the time of Javon’s birth. Court documents indicate that Ramkissoon joined One Mind Ministries after Javon’s birth. Ramkissoon left her parent’s home with her 7-month old son, joined the cult, and moved into their house at the age of 19 because (according to her attorney) she didn’t want to work or go to school but wanted to raise her son full-time, in Christianity, and the cult offered her this opportunity. At the time that Ramkissoon joined the cult, it had approximately a dozen members. Reportedly within the cult, cell ‘phones and discussion of one’s family were banned and marijuana smoking was common.
Prosecutors are charging Antoinette and three other cult members with child abuse resulting in death and first-degree murder. In a March 30 hearing, Ramkissoon plead guilty to the first charge (abuse/death) and agreed that she will testify truthfully against the other four. Should this occur, the prosecutor’s office will recommend sentencing comprised of release from jail, a suspended 20-year sentence, five years probation requiring mental health assistance (including “deprogramming” treatment with a specialist in cult behavior). Sentencing is currently sheduled for August 11.
A prosecutor’s office spokeswoman said that, regarding the child rising from the dead, the fine print of the plea agreement states, “This would need to be a Jesus-like resurrection. It cannot be a reincarnation in another object or animal.”
“She [Ramkissoon] certainly recognizes that her omissions caused the death of her son,” Ramkissoon’s attorney said. “To this day, she believes it was God’s will and he will be resurrected and this will all take care of itself. She realizes if she’s wrong, then everyone has to take responsibility … and if she’s wrong, then she’s a failure as a mother and the worst thing imaginable has happened. I don’t think that, mentally, she’s ready to accept that.”
Ramkissoon’s attorney also said,
“On one level, she certainly is competent to stand trial, because she does recognize that as far as her legal entanglements are concerned, this is a grand-slam resolution for her. On the other hand, she’s still brainwashed, she’s still delusional as far as the teachings and influence of this cult, and she certainly is going to benefit with professional help and deprogramming.”
The current disposition of the four other charged cult members: (Leader) Antoinette, Trevia Williams, and Marcus Cobbs are currently incarcerated without bail. Steven Bynum is, for some reason, free on his own recognizance.