Monday, October 6, 2008

Upset over financial problems, man kills family, then himself

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, police said Monday.

Officers found the bodies Monday morning after the wife failed to show up at a neighbor's home to go to work, Deputy Chief Michel Moore said. The deaths occurred sometime after Saturday evening.

A handgun that had been bought Sept. 16 was found in the father's grasp, Moore said. Karthik Rajaram, 45, left two suicide notes — one for police and one for friends and relatives — and a will.

The notes attest to Rajaram's financial difficulties, and he takes responsibility for killing his family members, Moore said.

Two of the victims were identified: mother-in-law Indra Ramasesham, 69, and the eldest son Krishna Rajaram, 19, who was a student at University of California, Los Angeles, the school said.

The identities of the 39-year-old wife and younger sons, ages 12 and 7, were not immediately released because their wounds made identification difficult, coroner's assistant chief Ed Winter said.

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

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 employement 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.

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 northwest 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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