It took a month for the police to ascertain the identity of the victim, says S. Vijay Kumar

It was a gory murder committed on the New Year Day that came to light the next morning.

The headless body of a woman was found on the outskirts of Valar Nagar under the Othakadai police station limits. The severed head was found dumped in the shrubs 100 metres away. A nearly clueless murder, it took a month for the police to ascertain the identity of the victim.

The Madurai Superintendent of Police, T.S. Anbu, formed a special team led by Inspector P.R. Lakshmanan and Sub-Inspector R. Mariappan to investigate the case. The team went around the Valar Nagar locality with the photograph of the deceased and made enquiries. While many refused to look at the gruesome picture, a construction worker identified the woman as the second wife of his co-worker, L. Manikandan (29).

This was the clue that helped investigators to unravel the chilling murder. The woman, M. Kavitha (26), was hacked to death by her husband Manikandan of Elangattupadugai in Thanjavur district. The accused was living with his first wife in Madurai while leaving Kavitha at her parents' place in Puthupatti (Thanjavur district).

After her repeated pleas to Manikandan failed, Kavitha came to Madurai on January 1 to make a last attempt. He received her at the Mattuthavani integrated bus stand around 9 p.m. and took her to an isolated building under construction near Valar Nagar.

The duo had dinner and at around midnight, Manikandan hacked Kavitha repeatedly killing her on the spot. In a bid to conceal her identity, he hid the head in the shrubs. On hearing that the police were searching for him, Manikandan surrendered before the Village Administrative Officer, Ilandhaikulam, on Friday.

The police recovered the bloodstained weapon, clothes and other evidence. During interrogation, Manikandan said he had murdered her because she interfered with his life.

For more than 20 days, he continued to work in the same building where he killed his wife.