What began as a case of two missing persons in Tirupur district's Senathipalayam panchayat has now transformed into a full-blown investigation of a shocking triple murder. And at the centre of this probe is 54-year-Kanammal and her daughter Poongodi, described by the police as cold-blooded killers.
It all started on October 10, when 50-year-old Selvaraj, a money lender arrived in Vellakoil with his wife Vasanthamani to invite his elder sister Kanammal for their son's wedding. Kanammal, a widow and daily wage worker was staying with her daughter and son-in-law when her brother came calling. The last call that Selvaraj had made on that fateful day was to his son Baskar, informing him that the invitation was delivered and that he was on his way back to Madurai. Except the couple never returned. Instead, their abandoned car was found at the Karur-Madurai National Highway, smeared with chilli powder to allegedly deter sniffer dogs from tracing any scent.
"When we got the complaint about them going missing, we immediately traced their steps and went to question his sister," says a top police officer in the district. And when a team of policemen visited Kanammal's house, they found blood stains in the house and freshly dug soil in the backyard.
This was enough to detain Kanammal, her son-in-law Nagendran and daughter Poongodi for inquiry.
During the questioning, the widow allegedly confessed to having murdered her brother and his wife over a property dispute. In fact reports suggest that she was waiting for a chance at pay back. And her son-in-law and daughter who were reportedly unhappy with the murdered couple's previous take on their inter-caste marriage, allegedly agreed to join her plot.
"Selvaraj was hit on the back of his head and an ammi kal (grinder stone) was used to smash his skull," says a police source. "His wife Vasanthamani was killed by slitting her throat. The two bodies were then buried in the backyard," adds the officer.
But what Nagendran, who had willingly joined his mother-in-law plan wasn't aware of ,was that Kanammal and his wife had allegedly murdered his mother in the same house close to six months ago.
"Nagendran had gone to visit his sister in Bengaluru when the murder happened. Poongodi and Kanammal were home when Nagendran's mother Rajamani arrived in their residence," says a senior officer. "Mother and daughter slashed her with an aruval on the back of her head and then asphyxiated her with a pillow, according to their confession during the inquiry, " explains the officer.
According to reports, the duo were angry with Rajamani for insulting Poongodi.
"When Nagendran returned and asked about his mother, they kept trying to make it look like she was off to some temple for a visit or gone to see a relative," says the top officer. "He was an alcoholic and didn't pay much attention as well. That is why there was never a missing complaint," adds the officer.
Rajamani's body, according to the police inquiry, is buried outside the compound of the backyard.
"During the inquiry, when asked about their families, Nagendran revealed that he had not been in touch with his mother for a long time. Suspicious about this, we traced where Rajamani's phone signal was last received. And it turned out to be in the same house," says the officer. "We found it hard to believe that they could have so brazenly committed two murders without any previous crime record and we were right. The accused have shown no remorse at all over the murders," shares the officer.
The police have requested the Tahsildar and doctors of the Government Medical College Hospital in Coimbatore to be present while the bodies of the victims are exhumed.
"Once the bodies are exhumed we will have a better understanding on the tools used for murder and the modus operandi," says the police officer.
Kanammal, Poongodi and Nagendran have been arrested. The three accused have been booked under sections 302 (Punishment for murder) and 201 (Causing disappearance of evidence of offence, or giving false information to screen offender) of the Indian Penal Code.