Second husband of Kerala ‘serial killer’ questioned, politicians under scanner

Shaju Philip
Joseph’s arrest has been recorded in the murder of her husband, Roy Thomas, 40, in which police had got scientific evidence from the autopsy in 2011, Simon said. (Source: ieMalayalam)

The second husband of Jolly Joseph, the 47-year-old who was arrested on the charge of murdering her first husband, his parents and three other members of his extended family at Koodathai village in Kozhikode district over 14 years, was questioned by police for several hours on Monday.

Kozhikode Rural SP K G Simon said that Shaju Zacharias, a high school teacher, was also questioned last week along with Jolly. “However, there was no evidence to connect him with the murders. We recorded his statements again today, and will take a decision on arraigning him as an accused after verifying the statements,” he added.

Jolly was arrested on Saturday. As the motives for the murders were suspected to be financial fraud and intention to marry another person, the police wanted to ascertain whether her second husband Shaju and his family were privy to the murders of Shaju’s first wife Sili and their one-year-old daughter.

The SP said that more people, including political leaders, would be questioned as the matter involved financial fraud to alienate the property of the late Tom and Annamma Thomas — the couple who were killed within six years of each other. These deaths were the first in the series of alleged serial killings using cyanide that began in 2002.

The Thomas home

Police said they had earlier found that Jolly had tried to forge documents to usurp the property of Tom and Annamma, who had three children, including Jolly’s late husband Roy, who was allegedly killed by her in 2011. She was allegedly helped by officials of the revenue department and local politicians to forge the documents to show that Jolly was the only legal heir of her in-laws’ property.

Meanwhile, the daughter of Tom and Annamma, Renji Thomas, alleged that Jolly had an affair with Shaju before the death of his first wife Sili. “During Sili’s funeral (in 2016), I had noticed a hidden element of delight on Jolly’s face. Jolly was active in the funeral. After that she had been a frequent visitor at Shaju’s house, and I had told relatives that their affair would end up in marriage,” Renji said.

Police had found that Shaju’s wife Sili had collapsed on Jolly’s lap after drinking water at a dental clinic where Shaju had gone to consult a dentist.

Sili’s brother Sijo Sebastian had reached the clinic immediately. “She (Jolly) had asked me to come to the clinic to discuss land dealings at our village. When I reached there, I saw Sili lying on Jolly’s lap. Now, I think she ensured my presence to give the impression that there was nothing unusual in Sili’s death,” said Sijo.

The matter got murkier after M R Rohit, a youth living near the National Institute of Technology-Calicut, on Monday alleged that Jolly had cheated his father M Ramakrishnan in 2008. Jolly had created a wrong impression over the years that she was working at NIT-C.

“My father had sold a property worth Rs 55 lakh, but it had not reached us. My father was a friend of Sulekha, who ran a beauty parlour frequented by Jolly. I cannot say whether my father had any links with Jolly. But the recent developments made me suspicious,” he said. Ramakrishnan died in 2016 due to cardiac arrest.

Sulekha claimed that Jolly did not work at her beauty parlour, was a customer.

As political leaders came under probe, CPI(M) Kozhikode district committee on Monday sacked party local secretary K Manoj from primary membership of CPI(M) after it was found that he had signed the fake bequest prepared by Jolly. Party district secretary P Mohanan said Manoj had brought disgrace to the party.