Kozhikode serial murder case cracked, three arrested

Jolly Shaju being taken to the district police office in Vadakara.   | Photo Credit: The Hindu

Sleuths of Kerala’s Crime Branch on October 5 uncovered a serial murder case in Kozhikode’s Koodathayi village, in which six persons, including three of a family, were killed using cyanide between 2002 and 2016.

The police team arrested Jolly Shaju, the prime suspect, along with two of her partners M.S. Mathew and P. Prajikumar, a day after the mortal remains of the victims were exhumed from their graves by forensic experts.

The woman allegedly murdered her husband, father-in-law, mother-in-law and three other close relatives over 14 years in order to grab their property and marry another man in the family. Tom Thomas, 66, his wife Annamma, 57, son Roy Thomas, 40, Annamma’s brother Mathew Manchadiyil, 68, and two other relatives, Sily, 41, and her two-year-old daughter Alphine were the six victims. All the six deaths were passed off as being due to cardiac arrests.

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Though the post-mortem of Roy Thomas found the presence of cyanide in his body, it was then recorded as a case of suicide by the local police. Subsequent investigations too found nothing suspicious about the incident.

Mathew Manchadiyil, who initially expressed doubts over the deaths, too was killed the same way without arousing suspicion, according to the sleuths.

The investigators cracked the mystery by tracking Mathew and Prajikumar, who allegedly supplied the cyanide to the woman for executing the murders. The duo was working at the time with a local jewellery firm and had access to the poisonous chemical, which is usually used to process gold ornaments. Both of them had left their jobs after the murders.

Series of incidents

It was in 2002, that the first death occurred in the family. The victim was Annamma Thomas who reportedly died soon after having some home-made food. Six years later, her husband Tom Thomas too died the same way. Their son Roy Thomas lost his life in 2011. All three of them died soon after having home-made food and showed the same symptoms of poisoning. However, some of the family members allegedly covered it up and spread the word that the cause of the deaths was cardiac arrest.

Kozhikode serial murder case cracked, three arrested

The other three deaths took place in 2014 and 2016. Annamma’s brother Mathew Manchadiyil, and his two relatives - Sily and her daughter were the victims. They too are believed to have died after having food mixed with a small quantity of cyanide. After the mysterious deaths, the woman who allegedly masterminded the killing had married another member of the family.

Confidential complaint

The conspiracy was exposed after Rojo Thomas, son of Tom Thomas, filed a confidential petition with the Crime Branch seeking a thorough probe into the suspicious deaths in his family and the details of persons suspected in the incident. He had also submitted proof of some secret land deals in which the suspects tried to take control of the properties of the dead persons.

Also read: A village watches in disbelief as murder mystery unfolds

In a preliminary investigation, the Crime Branch squad confirmed that Ms. Shaju was present when all the six deaths occurred. The actual motive was revealed when the squad checked the property transactions and financial deals done by her in partnership with her new husband. The details of telephone calls made by the two during the time of the deaths too helped the police to uncover the mystery.

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Printable version | Sep 22, 2021 6:34:45 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/kozhikode/kozhikode-serial-murder-case-cracked-three-arrested/article29606505.ece

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