Precious Commodities: The Dangerous Intersection of Greed, Insurance and Children’s Lives

Joni E. Johnston, Psy. D.
5 min readAug 3, 2021

On July 26, 2021, I finally got an answer to a question I’ve pondered ever since I’ve read my first story about someone murdered for life insurance money: Can you take a life insurance policy on someone without them even knowing?

Sadly, I’ve read dozens of sad and sordid tales of betrayal and greed, often by the people the victims loved and trusted most. Few things surprise me these days. But I will never get used to stories of a parent who takes a life insurance policy out on their child, callously kills them, and cashes in.

Here’s one tragic tale. In August 2017, Joaquin Rams of Manassas, Virginia was convicted of murdering his 15-month-old-son, Prince, to collect on his life insurance. The cause of death is still unclear; the defense says Prince died from a febrile seizure, the prosecution says Rams murdered him by either suffocating him or-more likely-drowning him. Rams had allegedly taken out more than $500,000 in life insurance on Prince in the months before his death; what toddler needs that?

Prince’s biological mother had no idea about the insurance policies on her son’s life. While the insurance agency obviously did, they were also misled. Rams reportedly lied to MassMutual about a number of things; he stated that his toddler son lived with him and that his mother was dead. No death certificate was required.

He also lied about his salary (which he said was $200,000 but was actually $0) and his assets (which were none). In fact, he was in debt for over $60,000 at the time his son died. No tax returns or check stubs were ever asked for.

Two weeks before Prince died, Rams asked the real estate agent to take his house off the rental market because things were “looking up.” He told her he was planning to buy new appliances and furniture and was thinking about adding a deck, pool, and new paint. This was for a house that had been in foreclosure for three months and on which he owed back payments of over $50,000.

Easy Targets

The ease with which Prince’s father was able to obtain insurance on his infant son-essentially over the phone and despite shaky finances and a suspicious résumé-shows just how easy it is to…

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Joni E. Johnston, Psy. D.

Forensic psychologist/private investigator//author of serial killer book. Passionate about victim’s rights, the psychology of true crime, and criminal justice.