The Kerala police have finally cracked the case of the death of six persons belonging to the same Catholic family, who died under mysterious circumstances, in Kozhikode district between 2002 and 2016.
The prime suspect, Joly Joseph (47), in the Kerala serial killings case, who was arrested on Saturday, has confessed to her crime, police said on Sunday. Joly who was the family’s daughter-in-law was arrested eight years after her husband’s death following consumption of cyanide-laced food. Along with her, the Kerala Police also detained her second husband Shaju and another relative who supplied cyanide to execute the murders.
KG Simon, Superintendent of Police Kozhikode Rural who is heading the investigation team in the case, said Joly Joseph confessed her role in the killing of six members of her family over a period of 14 years.
Speaking to India Today, Simon said: “We have arrested her and two associates in the murder of her husband Roy Thomas in 2011. The autopsy report of the deceased revealed the presence of Pottasium cyanide. The second accused, MS Mathew also confessed that he provided cyanide sourced from third accused and a local goldsmith, Prajith Kumar,” he said, adding that “Based on confessions and scientific evidence, the accused were arrested.”
Meanwhile, police are also probing the roles of seven persons including local political leaders who were close associates of the prime suspect, Joly Joseph. Police suspect that Joly sought the help of her friends to cover up the murders and also consulted a criminal lawyer before her arrests. Joly also made an unsuccessful attempt to transfer the investigation officer by seeking the help of political leaders.
“The accused did meticulous planning and charted the safe mode to conceal the murders. It was a challenging case, a police official told India Today.
The chain of deaths:
The first target in the serial killing was a retired teacher Annamma Thomas (57), mother-in-law of Joly Joseph, whose death in the year 2002 did not raise any suspicion as the family treated it as a natural death. After six years, her husband Tom Thomas (66) died of heart failure.
In 2011, their elder son and husband of the prime accused in the case, Roy Thomas (40), died under similar circumstances. The family still could not smell anything fishy though the autopsy report revealed poisoning before death.
In 2014, Annamma’s brother, Mathew Manjadiyil (67), died similarly. Two years later in 2016, their relative’s daughter, Alphonsa (2), died of a heart attack and within months her mother, Sili (27), also died.
Soon after that Roy’s widow, Jolly, married Sili’s widower Shaju and claimed ownership of the family property with the support of the last will prepared by her father-in-law Tom Thomas who had died in 2008.
Meanwhile, Roy’s younger brother Mojo, an NRI based in the US, perceiving the ploy by now, challenged the transfer of ownership of family property and lodged complaints with the Crime Branch regarding the serial deaths in his family.
Based on his complaints, Kerala police opened family tombs on October 4 to examine the reasons behind the deaths of six persons from a family who died under mysterious circumstances.
The police interrogated Jolly and Shaju eight times and found discrepancies in their statements. They found that Jolly was present in the locations when all six persons died. When the police asked Jolly to undergo polygraph tests, she refused on health grounds.
Police said Jolly, who was a commerce graduate, had claimed she was an engineering graduate and was working as a lecturer at the National Institute of Technology (NIT).
While verifying call details, police found that Jolly and Shaju were in constant touch during odd hours. When the dead bodies were exhumed, forensic experts found the presence of cyanide.
In all the cases the Modus Operandi has been the same. In each case, traces of cyanide had been found and it had been a case of slow poisoning, police said. “We found that Roy’s death had occurred due to cyanide, while the wife had claimed he had died of cardiac arrest,” police officers added.
Police revealed that Annamma Thomas, who was at the helm of family affairs, was killed to claim her money, while it is suspected that Tom Thomas, a retired government employee, was killed to get more share of the property. Roy was killed as the accused was not getting along well with her husband.
Annamma’s brother Mathew was killed as he had insisted on postmortem of Roy, police said adding Sili and her one-year-old daughter were also killed in similar circumstances.