Memorial for toddler who died under care of controversial '1 Mind Ministries' group
Saturday, August 30, 2008
A memorial service was held Friday for Javon Thompson, a toddler that died in Baltimore, Maryland, while under the care of a religious group called "1 Mind Ministries". Thompson died in late 2006 or early 2007 in an apartment in West Baltimore. According to police statements, members of 1 Mind Ministries refused the boy food and water because he did not say "amen" after group meals. Police say the boy would have been about 19 months old when members of the group stopped feeding him in December 2006.
|I loved this baby more than anything in my life.|
—Seeta Khadan-Newton, Javon Thompson's grandmother
The Baltimore Sun spoke with Seeta Khadan-Newton, Javon Thompson's grandmother, at the funeral service which took place at March Funeral Homes in Northwest Baltimore. "I loved this baby more than anything in my life," she said.
The Baltimore Sun reported that Khadan–Newton told them she had contacted Baltimore's Division of Social Services at least four times between April and December of 2006 out of worries for Thompson's wellbeing and location. DSS officials stated that they received only two phone calls, and the complaints about Thompson's treatment were not enough to look into further.
WJZ-TV reported that "Queen Antoinette", the 40-year-old leader of 1 Mind Ministries, allegedly concealed Javon Thompson's body in a blanket and sprayed it with fabric softener to mask the odor before having a member of the group leave the body in a friend's backyard shed in Philadelphia. According to police, members of 1 Mind Ministries placed Thompson's remains in a suitcase and took it to Philadelphia in February 2007, where they left it with an elderly friend. Subsequently members of the group moved to Brooklyn, New York. Law enforcement authorities found the suitcase with Thompson's remains in April 2008.
Ria Ramkissoon, 21, Thompson's mother, and four others, have been charged with first-degree murder by Baltimore homicide detectives in connection with the boy's death. The Associated Press reported that police charging documents state that Queen Antoinette instructed her followers to pray for Javon Thompson to be resurrected while he lay dead in the back room of the Baltimore apartment. An informant told police Queen Antoinette left Javon Thompson's body in the back room of the apartment for over a week, and told her followers: "God was going to raise Javon from the dead".
|The members of this cult, who were more than twice her age, were calling the shots.|
—Steven Silverman, Ria Ramkissoon's attorney
Ramkissoon's mother and her attorney assert that she was brainwashed by the 1 Mind Ministries group and acted under the control of Queen Antoinette. "The members of this cult, who were more than twice her age, were calling the shots," said Ramkissoon's attorney Steven Silverman at a court hearing for his client. Inside the group, Ria Ramkissoon referred to herself as "Princess Marie".
Court documents revealed that 1 Mind Ministries conducted operations in secret, did not believe in medical care and dressed in all-white clothing. Members of the group were referred to as "princes" and "princesses" by Queen Antoinette, also known as Toni Sloan or Toni Ellsberry. Documents also state that they viewed Javon Thompson as a "demon" for not saying "amen" after meals, that they stopped feeding him in December 2006, and did not seek out medical attention when the boy stopped breathing and died.
|It fits the profile of a classic cult...|
—Rick A. Ross, The Ross Institute Internet Archives
Rick A. Ross of The Ross Institute Internet Archives for the Study of Destructive Cults, Controversial Groups and Movements spoke with the Associated Press about the nature of the 1 Mind Ministries group, and asserted that it meets the definition of a "cult". Ross has given expert testimony in cases related to controversial groups and has studied them for 26 years. Law enforcement officials also used the term to describe the 1 Mind Ministries group, specifically characterizing it as a "Christian fundamentalist cult".
"It fits the profile of a classic cult in the sense that it's a personality-driven group and that Queen Antoinette is that animating personality and central defining element of the group," said Ross. He compared the group to others where children were killed because they did not follow the instructions of the group. The Ross Institute Internet Archives maintains a page about 1 Mind Ministries, which contains archived news articles, a photo of Queen Antoinette, and links to other resources.
Prosecutors in the murder case have also referred to the 1 Mind Ministries group as a "cult", and said that members of the group would likely follow Queen Antoinette's instructions during the trial. In a hearing August 13 where Queen Antoinette and group member Trevia Williams, 21, were denied bail, they both also refused legal representation from Baltimore public defenders, and both declined a preliminary hearing. "Chances are, the cult members are going to do what she tells them to do," said Baltimore Assistant State's Attorney David C. Chiu at the court proceeding. Ria Ramkissoon is being held in the psychiatric unit of a city jail in Baltimore, Queen Antoinette, Trevia Williams and group member Marcus Cobbs are also being held in jail in Baltimore, and federal officials in New York from the United States Marshals Service are searching for another member of the group.
|This baby died so that they could be exposed.|
—Rev. Anna V. Nelson
Rev. Anna V. Nelson spoke to the family at the memorial service in Baltimore, saying: "I would like to think that this boy died for us. This baby has left a message here for the whole world. This baby died so that they [1 Mind Ministries] could be exposed."
The memorial service ended with a presentation of video clips of Javon Thompson playing, being held by his mother, and finally watching the camera as a female voice says goodbye to him.
- "1 Mind Ministries" — , Retrieved August 30, 2008
- Sumathi Reddy. "Family bids boy a simple farewell: Memorial service held for toddler at center of Baltimore 'cult' murder case" — , August 30, 2008
- Ben Nuckols (Associated Press). "Family says mother of slain boy was brainwashed by cult" — , August 17, 2008
- Dennis Edwards. "Prosecutors Blame Cult In Toddler's Death" — , August 16, 2008
- Gus G. Sentementes. "2 in 'cult' case denied bail: Pair are among those charged in toddler's death" — , August 14, 2008
- "Javon Thompson 'starved to death by Mind cult'" — , August 13, 2008
- Marcus Baram. "Cult Murder Suspect's Mom: It's Not Her Fault - Murdered Boy's Grandmother Recalls How Cult Snatched Her Daughter Two Years Ago" — , August 12, 2008
- "Cult leader charged with starving toddler" — , August 12, 2008
- "Cult starves toddler to death for refusing to say 'amen'" — , August 12, 2008
- Ben Nuckols (Associated Press). "Police: Child death connected to cult" — , August 11, 2008
- "Cult mom charged with starving toddler" — , August 11, 2008
- Jeff Hager. "Suspected Cult Member Charged in Son's Death" — , August 11, 2008