Five people die by cyanide in phony voodoo ritual on St. Croix.
St. Croix in the US Virgin Islands is a vacation paradise to more than one and a half million visitors from the United States each year. But even paradise can have a dark side.
On November 18 th , 1988, just after 9:30 P.M., police arrived at the scene of what was reported as a minor traffic accident. They found a local woman, Radha Maharaj, apparently suffering from internal injuries. She died on the way to the hospital.
Sixteen miles away, a body was discovered on the side of the road. The dead man was Krishnadath Maharaj, Radha’s husband.
The clothing of both victims was saturated with seawater. Twenty-five thousand dollars in cash that the couple had borrowed was missing. And the cause of both deaths was cyanide poisoning. This brought to five the number of cyanide victims on St. Croix since 1984. Authorities suspected that all the deaths were linked to Voodoo.
Contrary to popular belief, there is nothing inherently sinister about Voodoo. It’s a blend of Roman Catholicism and African tradition, practiced mainly in Haiti and Louisiana. Curses, hexes, effigy dolls, and potions are more often a part of Obia, an underground form of sorcery that is not connected to voodoo.
Police in St. Croix came to believe that the five cyanide poisonings were the work of a master con man. He practices Obia, but pretends to use Voodoo.
Radha and Krishnadath were both born in the Caribbean. Their parents had come from India. The couple ran a small grocery store where Radha’s two daughters from her first marriage helped with the business. According to one of the daughters, the family was doing relatively well at the time:
Several months before they died, the Maharajes took out a guaranteed loan to expand their store. They soon found themselves in financial trouble. Another of their daughters said it created stress in the household:
Something else was wrong. The Maharajes had been receiving mysterious phone calls from a strange man. According to the daughters, it was all kept private:
Then, three weeks before the Maharajes died, they brought home $25,000 in cash, borrowed from Radha’s relatives. One of the daughters questioned their mother about it:
But by Monday, Radha was dead. On the previous Friday, the daughters said, she left home without explanation:
“For her to actually go out alone is something very strange for me. And for her to go out at night, that is even more strange, because she didn’t ever go anywhere at night. Never.”
Thirty minutes later, Krishnadath drove off in the opposite direction, presumably to meet the mysterious man. Two hours later, Radha’s car coasted to a stop near a local beach. Her dress was soaked with seawater. She was unconscious and near death, but there were no outward signs of struggle or foul play.
Sixteen miles away, Krishnadath was found lying by the side of a beachfront road. He was dressed only in a pair of shorts, which were also soaked with seawater. Once again, there were no signs of foul play. When police spoke to the daughters, they were told their mother had most likely taken her own life:
Autopsies of the bodies revealed that they had both died from cyanide poisoning. Oddly, another St. Croix couple, Edsel Striden and Carmen Torres, had recently died under similar circumstances. Edsel and Carmen had owned a small neighborhood bar. Like the Maharajes, they had also taken out a loan to expand their business: $54,000 in cash.
At dusk, Edsel and Carmen left home in their pick-up truck. Their daughter later recalled that her father had slipped a small bottle into his pocket before he left. It was the last time she saw her parents alive.
Carmen Torres was discovered, near death, less than a half a mile from the spot where Radha Maharaj was found. She, too, died on the way to the hospital.
Edsel Striden was found dead in his truck on a nearby beach. Both Carmen and Edsel’s clothes were soaked with seawater and both had died of cyanide poisoning. Plus, the $54,000 in cash was missing.
The four deaths were clearly related and were linked by investigators to yet another previous cyanide poisoning. The first victim was 38 year-old Haig Caesar. On May 24, 1984, a young girl on her way to school found Haig in his car, which had apparently run off the road. He, too, had been poisoned by cyanide. Sgt. James Rhyme of the St. Croix Police Department suspected a connection to Voodoo:
According to Haig Caesar’s wife, Rosmund, her husband told her that he had paid $100,000 in cash to an Obiaman, who claimed that he could remove the evil spirits:
On the night he died, police believe Haig returned to the spot where the Obiaman had said a treasure of priceless coins was buried. The Obiaman’s scam called for him to drink a potion that would drive away the spirits guarding the coins. That potion turned out to be cyanide. By the time Haig’s body was discovered the next day, both the Obiaman and the $100,000 had vanished.
Rosmund said she couldn’t understand why her husband had become involved with such a practice:
Were all five deaths the work of an Obiaman? Was the man who promised buried treasure to Haig Caesar the same one who telephoned the Maharajes? Was he also the man Edsel Striden and Carmen Torres went to meet on the night they died?
The similarities in all three cases go far beyond mere coincidence.
Watch this case now on Amazon Prime in season three with Robert Stack and in season two with Dennis Farina. Also available on YouTube with Dennis Farina. Various seasons available now on Hulu.SUBMIT A TIP
Just saw this episode. As I have family in and from there, this guy is a evil person. He basically promised whatever to them for the money and poisoned them. Never trust these people. They have no power. The kingdom of God is within you. Do it yourself.
The Obeah man
I was there.
I think someone connected to the banks where they requested the loans? seems to be the most common thread but these individuals had to all have crossed paths with this guy somehow! Isn’t it more common for women to poison? I def agree Netflix or someone should pick up unsolved mysteries maybe we could make a hashtag!
i personally have stake in the murders of Krishnadath and Radha Maharaj they are my step fathers mother and dad. i miss Radha love u Gma
Do you have any insight on who this man might be? One of the victims is a family member of mine as well.
Is there any description of the man they are looking for? Height? Color? Age? Anything other than the strong accent??
With today technology these case should be turn over to unsolved mysteries and the cases should be reinvestigated, everything in life has an explanation these victim should have justice .to many people died t his is the work of a real serial killer these crime should not go unsolved.
Dammit To Hell! This Obia Man Had Gotten Away With Murder!
What’s That? How Could This Be? Well It’s Quite Simple Here’s What I Think… Well a. Is That Whoever The culprit Was He Might Have Been A Devil Worshipper! Or b. He Could Have Been A Part Of A Cult And Someone’s Been Deceiving The Culprit The Entire time And finally c.Whoever’s Behind This The Culprit Might Have Been Involved In A church So I Suggest That The Authorities To Look Into The Killer’s Background And See What’s The Motive For These Senseless Murders! And By The Way I Sympathize The Killer I Feel His Pain But Killing These People And Taking Their Lives That’s Wrong And To The Families Of These Victims I Also Feel Your Pain Also That’s Terrible And May Everybody Get What’s Ahead For What’s To Come However This Is Bittersweet I Mean A Lemon Is Sour And A A Strawberries Are So Sweet Anyway Everybody That’s Reading This Do Not Always Trust What You Hear Because The Bible Says That Satan Had Appeared In The Garden of Eden And He Had Revived Eve! As A Result Adam And Eve We’re Banished From The Garden Of Eden Anyway If Anything Goes Wrong Always Seek God And Call On Him And He Will Surely Come To Your Aid! OK Everybody Take Care of Yourselves Everybody Have A Wonderful Life And God Bless Everyone On The Face of This Earth!