Six killed in LA family murder-suicide

An unemployed man with an advanced finance degree who was despondent over his own financial problems shot and killed his wife, three children, mother-in-law and then himself in an upscale home in a gated community, Los Angeles police said today.

Officers found the bodies yesterday morning after the wife failed to show up at a neighbour’s home to go to work as a pharmacy bookmaker, Deputy Chief Michel Moore said. The deaths occurred sometime after Saturday evening.

A handgun that had been bought on September 16 was found in the father’s grasp, Mr Moore said.

Karthik Rajaram, 45, left two suicide notes – one for police and one for friends and relatives – and a will. Coroner’s assistant chief Ed Winter said the family was from India.

“The source of it appears to be a financial state, a crisis if you will, that this man became embroiled in that has unfolded over the past weeks,” Mr Moore said.

The man wrote in his suicide letter that he felt he had two options – to just kill himself or to kill himself and his family – and decided the second option was more honourable, Mr Moore said.

Officers found the mother-in-law, Indra Ramasesham, 69, dead in bed on the first floor. Upstairs, they found a 19-year-old son, Krishna Rajaram, dead in bed in the master bedroom.

The gunman’s 39-year-old wife, Subasri, was found in another room, also apparently shot while sleeping, Mr Moore said.

In an adjoining room, a 12-year-old son, Ganesha, was dead on the floor, and his seven-year-old brother, Arjuna, was dead in bed. Their father’s body also was found there with a handgun “in his grasp,” Mr Moore said.

Mr Winter said the victims were shot multiple times.

Mr Winter said the mother-in-law was an Indian national, but he did not know the status of the others.

“I think they are legal residents,” he said.

Karthik Rajaram had a master’s of business administration in finance, formerly worked for PricewaterhouseCoopers and Sony Pictures, but had been unemployed for several months, Mr Moore said.

Mr Moore did not specify what financial trouble the man had been in. He noted that the family did not own the home.

PricewaterhouseCoopers spokesman Steven Silber said Karthik Rajaram last worked for the company in 1999, but declined to offer any further information about him, given the time that passed since Rajaram’s employment there.

Sony Pictures Entertainment spokesman Steve Elzer did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

Investigators have determined that Rajaram was at least the part-owner of a financial holding company, Moore said.

He is listed as a co-manager of a corporation called SKGL LLC, which is incorporated in Nevada, according to state records. He formed the corporation for his family’s assets, said Las Vegas attorney Christopher R. Grobl.

He did not know what sort of business SKGL was or why Rajaram incorporated in Nevada. The business was incorporated in 1999 and renewed its annual license in December 2007.

Krishna Rajaram was enrolled at the University of California, Los Angeles, as a junior majoring in business economics, spokesman Phil Hampton said.

The gated community, called Sorrento Pointe, is among several developments along curving lanes and cul-de-sacs set on the foothills of the Santa Susana Mountains in Porter Ranch, about 23 miles north-west of downtown.

“It’s very quiet here,” said Ryan Ransdell, who lives across the street. “That’s what’s so shocking about this. ... You’d think someone would have heard it. You can hear a car door shut at night.”

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