Submit :
News                      Photos                     Just In                     Debate Topic                     Latest News                    Articles                    Local News                    Blog Posts                     Pictures                    Reviews                    Recipes                    
Amityville horror reloaded: The strange case of Cadell Jeanson Raja
On November 13, 1974, the quiet suburban neighbourhood of Amityville in Long Island, New York, woke up to the news of a gruesome carnage by a resident, a young man named Ronald DeFeo Jr., who shot and killed his parents and four siblings at 112 Ocean Avenue, a large Dutch colonial house.

He was arrested and convicted in 1975.  In his defense, DeiFeo said that he killed them because he heard their voices plotting against him.  DeFeo was a drug addict and the psychiatrist for the prosecution believed that he had an anti-social personality disorder and that he was aware of his actions when he committed the crimes. 

In an eerie replay of the crime, Cadell Jeanson Raja killed his parents, sister and aunt in Kerala's capital city of Thiruvananthapuram. The crime was discovered on April 8 when a neighbour noticed that the house was on fire and alerted the police.  Once the fire was doused, the cops stumbled upon a macabre dance of death that had unfolded within it. The victims had been killed with a machete and the aunt's body had been dismembered.  The bodies were badly charred in the fire.  A half-burnt dummy was also discovered.  The victims were Dr Jean Padma, 58, a retired doctor, Dr Raja Thangam, 60, a retired college professor, their daughter Caroline, a medical student, and Lalitha Jain, aged 70. The son of the couple, Cadell Jeanson Raja was missing.

He was arrested from the Thampanoor railway station a couple of days later.  The subsequent interrogations and investigations have revealed an interesting story.  It is said that Cadell confessed to the crimes and showed no remorse. There were reports that he was into satanic worship and that he was interested in astral projection. During his arrest, he smiled for the cameras, though if one looked closely at the TV footage, it was possible to detect a manic glint in his eyes which darted about slyly without focusing on anything. 

Inquiries with neighbours revealed that Cadell was a recluse and had little social interaction.  There were no adverse reports of any of the family members who were respected pillars of society who went to church regularly.  Nobody had been able to detect any disturbing undercurrents beneath the tranquil surface of their family life.  Cadell was a medical school dropout and was said to be working as an animator in an Australian firm.  Latest police reports claim that the crimes were premeditated and well planned as Cadell resented the way he was neglected and humiliated by his parents for his lack of accomplishment and failure to live up to their expectations.  However, there are also speculations that he was schizophrenic and his family chose to brush it under the carpet and deny him treatment fearing social stigma. 

A sad story emerges from all these swirling speculations.  A story of a young boy who grew up in a strongly Christian household which laid great stress on piety, achievement and the suppression of natural instincts and urges. If he is indeed schizophrenic, it is no wonder. It is a well-known fact that one of the causes of mental illness is the attempt to suppress one's natural self. Such rigidly Christian families often frown at popular music, movies etc as they feel that they corrupt young minds.  In fact, there are many Christian families who still adhere to the rigid and puritan tenets of Calvinist theology – like Cadell's.  They often have no TV at home and don't allow their kids to listen to pop music. Cadell, in the eyes of his family, was a failure.  He dropped out of medical school and he was an introvert. In contrast, his sister had completed medical studies and may have been the favoured child. Constant comparisons and accusations may have pushed him over the edge finally and murderously as it so often happens with emotionally abused children.   

Some time back, there had also been an incident in Chennai where some medicos from Nagercoil – both Christians – had thrown a dog from the terrace.  Such violence points to an underlying mental disorder and it wouldn't be surprising if the two turned out to have a family background like Cadell's.  Society can no longer afford to ignore such incidents as mere youthful male exuberance and aggression.  It's high time social researchers explored this issue.   

Tragically, Cadell's family seems to have seen his mental illness yet another evidence of his inadequacy and chosen to perceive it as a stigma which would reflect poorly on their social status.  Therein lies another lesson – it's high time that the silence and stigma around mental illness end.  Parents and teachers must be alert to signs of introversion and odd behaviour in children to detect such disorders in time and ensure that they receive proper attention and treatment.  Otherwise, there is reason to fear that there will be many more Cadells in the future, some even masquerading as doctors.  A scenario that recalls Hannibal Lecter from 'The Silence of the Lambs', no less!

Email Id
Verification Code
Email me on reply to my comment
Email me when other CJs comment on this article
Sign in to set your preference
merinews for RTI activists

Not finding what you are looking for? Search here.