“The deaths will stop because we have arrested Jolly now. Otherwise the murders could have continued,” Kozhikode Rural SP KG Simon informed a media contingent gathered outside his office on Tuesday evening.
The police officer said that Jolly Amma Joseph who has been booked for allegedly murdering her husband and believed to have killed 5 others, also targeted 2 children in the extended family.
While the SP hinted that the kids too seem to have been poisoned as they had shown similar symptoms of seizures and apnea, they had managed to evade death, unlike 6 other victims in the family who are suspected to have been fed cyanide.
“Both these targets were part of the extended family. We are still investigating this and I won’t be able to divulge more details,” the officer told media persons.
Jolly Joseph, a 47-year-old woman, is the prime suspect in alleged serial murders which took place in the Ponnamattam family based in Koodathayi, Kozhikode.
The first death took place in 2002, when Jolly’s mother-in-law, Annamma passed away suddenly after she consumed mutton soup at home. Six years later in 2008, Jolly‘s father-in-law and Annamma’s husband Tom Thomas, died similarly, collapsing inside the bathroom on the ground floor of their house. Doctors in the Shanthi Hospital in Omassery where he was rushed to declared that he died following a heart attack.
In 2011, Jolly’s husband Roy Thomas collapsed and died in the bathroom on the ground floor of their house in a similar manner. Roy too had experienced seizures prior to his death, just like his parents.
In 2014, a 2-year-old child in the family - Alphine Shaju - passed away in a similar manner. Alphine was the daughter of Jolly’s current husband Shaju, who is also Roy Thomas’s first cousin. The same year saw another death - that of Mathew Manjadiyil, a retired army man and Annamma’s brother passing away mysteriously.
Two years after Alphine’s death, Shaju’s then wife Cily passed away after she collapsed at a dental clinic. Cily too had experienced seizures and as a result had froth in her mouth when she died.
Barely a year after Cily’s death, Shaju and Jolly got married in a private ceremony in Katapppana.
Of all the 6 deaths that had taken place in the family, a post mortem was performed only on Roy Thomas. This post mortem report revealed traces of cyanide in Roy’s body. Roy's post mortem report however had said there were traces of cyanide in his body, but this was not investigated further as the Kodencherry police closed the case calling it a death by suicide.
The current investigating team headed by SP Simon and DYSP Haridas exhumed the 6 bodies from the graves last week. The mortal remains of the victims will be sent to forensics laboratories to check for traces of poison and trace analysis.
Meanwhile, Jolly Joseph who confessed to having committed the 6 murders, has been remanded to the Kozhikode sub jail. Police have also questioned Shaju - Jolly’s current husband - multiple times to learn his involvement in the deaths.
Two others - Mathew and Praji Kumar - a jewellery store owner and a gold smith respectively have also been arrested by the police for allegedly supplying cyanide to Jolly.