The ‘Ripper’ is suspected to be hiding

The trail of ‘Ripper’ Jayanandan, which went cold after the death row prisoner broke out of the Central Prison here along with a fellow convict on June 11, has got hot again, according to the State police.

The serial offender, who police said often exhibited psychopathic traits when drunk, is an accused in eight murder cases, including a double homicide, all for gain, and 14 burglaries.

Investigators said they had evidence to believe that Jayanandan was “hiding in plain sight” on the sparsely populated islets that dot the maze of inland waterways and backwater lagoons near Kodungalloor in Thrissur district.

Phone call to wife

The police said Jayanandan had called his wife from a remotely located telephone booth in the coastal locality. They said that Jayanandan had also attempted in vain to waylay a local resident he suspected to have an extramarital relationship with a relative of his in Mala.

When the attempt failed, Jayanandan vented his anger by allegedly setting the man’s motorbike on fire.

The police said Jayanandan could be hiding in one of the hundreds of brackish water shrimp farms (‘chemmeen kettu’) in the area. Usually not more than two persons tend the farms and many sleep in makeshift huts built on stilts to prevent theft of farm produce.

Recently, local MLA T. N. Pratapan joined the police in a midnight check of scores of such farms in the locality. Later this week, the police, backed by 150 local people, are scheduled to conduct a mass search in the area. Assistant Commissioner K.E. Baiju is heading the search.

On June 19, the police had arrested ‘Oopa’ Prakash, the 44-year-old man who escaped from prison along with Jayanandan when he had just a few months to complete his sentence for simple theft.

For reasons which police said defied logic, Prakash had chosen to make himself obvious in his village, drinking in toddy shops, making contact with his friends, sleeping in the open and buying liquor from crowded outlets.

The police let Prakash be at large for several days, hoping in vain that Jayanandan would make contact with him, before arresting him.

Prakash’s interrogation revealed that they had camped almost two days in the wilderness near Veli railway station and had survived on ripe cashew fruit and germinated nuts after their break-out. Before they split ways, Jayanandan had briefly revealed his plans to Prakash.

The “Ripper” proposed that they steal a boat from the nearby Kadhinamkulam lagoon and live off the land abutting the State’s chain of brackish water lagoons. Jayanandan had spent much of his youth fishing the lagoons near his house in Mala.