Six die in L.A. family murder-suicide

Gunman kills self, five kin over financial woes

Los Angeles Police officers stand in front of the home where six bodies were found at a gated community in the San Fernando Valley neighborhood of the Porter Ranch area of Los Angeles on Oct. 6, 2008. (Photo AP/Damian Dovarganes)

By Christina Hoag
The Associated Press

LOS ANGELES — The only hints of trouble in the big beige house on Como Lane were the newspapers in the driveway and the lack of any activity behind the front door.

But when police summoned by worried friends of the residents got inside Monday, they found a horror -- six members of a family fatally shot in a murder-suicide committed by an unemployed man in financial crisis.

The body of 45-year-old Karthik Rajaram, a gun clutched in one hand, was found by officers who followed a trail of carnage through the home in a gated community in the Porter Ranch area of the San Fernando Valley.

His victims, most slain in their beds, were his wife, three sons and his mother-in-law.

"Absolute devastation," Deputy Chief Michel Moore told reporters outside the home.

Investigators quickly found two suicide letters and a will, and determined that the man once worked for a major accounting firm and was at least the part-owner of a financial holding company.

"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," 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 honorable, Moore said.

The bodies were found when officers were sent to make a check on the home Monday morning after the wife failed to show up at a neighbor's home to go to work as a pharmacy bookkeeper, 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, Moore said.

In an adjoining room, a 12-year-old son, Ganesha, was dead on the floor, and his 7-year-old brother, Arjuna, was dead in bed. Their father's body also was found there with a handgun "in his grasp," Moore said. The gun was purchased Sept. 16.

Coroner's assistant chief Ed Winter said the victims were shot multiple times.

The killings occurred some time between midnight Saturday and early Monday morning, Winter said.

The father had a business degree and formerly worked for PricewaterhouseCoopers and Sony Pictures, but had been unemployed for several months, Moore said. The deputy chief did not identify the financial holding company, though Nevada records show an incorporation there.

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

The man had no record of mental disabilities or contacts with mental health professionals in Los Angeles County, Moore said.

PricewaterhouseCoopers spokesman Steven Silber said Karthik Rajaram last worked for the company in 1999, but declined to offer any further information about him.

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

Karthik Rajaram 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 and used his family members' initials to form the name, said Las Vegas attorney Christopher R. Grobl.

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

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

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