Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Cult 'Brainwashed' daughter

"Seeta Khadan-Newton, mother of Ria Ramkissoon, 21, who was recently charged with killing her 21-month-old son, Javon Thompson, while she was part of a tiny religious cult that seemingly kept to itself in the inner city, says she still cannot believe it. Khadan-Newton had been fighting since April 2006 to extricate her daughter and grandson from the cult; four other members have thus far been charged."

I am up early and not working until 3 p.m., so how about a nice uplifting story to start the day.

Last week at the end of my shift I was sent to photograph Seeta Khadan-Newton at her home in Baltimore City.

She is the mother of Ria Ramkissoon, a 21-year-old whom was recently charged with killing her 15-month-old son, Javon Thompson, while she was part of the religious group called 1 Mind Ministries.

The story timelines back to 2006 and reads like a plot to a movie.

Saddening, Javon Thompson, Ramkissoon's son, was killed when he failed to say "Amen" after meals, and then restricted food and water before finally passing away.

According to reports, the lifeless child was placed in a suitcase and dumped in a backyard in Philadelphia as the cult moved further north to New York.

Unknown of the death and fearful for her grandson, Khadan-Newton attempted to rescue Javon and her daughter multiple times. She tried just about everything in the book, but got the same answer each time. The child was with her mother.

Her attempts went unsuccessful and recently another woman's attempts to retrieve her children led police to the group and eventually led to charges in Javon's death.

Group members now face first-degree murder charges in the child's death.

However, Ramkissoon's mother is still saying that her daughter was brainwashed by a cult and acted only at the group leader's will.

Heartbreaking, I needed not only to make some copied pictures of Javon during my assignment, but capture Khadan-Newton in a way readers could understand the story.

After she looked through pictures for me, I asked her to describe how old and when the two large framed pictures on the table were taken.

The pictures were placed with a rose, were placed nicely in the room so that they stood out and I knew they had deeper meaning to them.

As I sat on the end of the couch, Khadan-Newton picked them both up and began speaking; describing things she missed about her grandson and daughter.

But when she got to Javon’s picture, she got choked up. She was at a loss for words.

For a very brief moment, she removed her eyes from the picture, staring at the ceiling, and clinched her mouth shut to hold back her deep loss for her grandson.

I finally got some emotion that she really felt. Although a by the book image of a subject holding framed pictures or not, I think it illustrated the story of her loss of both her daughter and grandson.


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