How a psycho killer hid behind the mask of devout laity

Last Updated 09 October 2019, 09:09 IST

For many in the nondescript village of Koodathayi, this pious woman was a proud faculty of the prestigious National Institute of Technology (NIT) till some days ago.

Some others took her to be a talkative beauty parlour staff having a wide network of friends.

But, for the entire village of Koodathayi, a sleepy hamlet in Kozhikode in north Kerala, 47-year old Jolly, the alleged cyanide killer arrested recently in connection with the death of her first husband Roy Thomas in 2011, was a religious person spending her weekends in a local church here and prayer groups.

The woman is also the prime suspect in connection with five other deaths in the family between 2002-2016.

They could remember her only as a staunch Catholic, who never missed the Sunday mass, Biblical sessions and prayer gatherings and as a "mature" woman who had appeared composed even during the series of deaths in the family.

The dumbstruck villagers are now trying hard to cope with the reality that the jovial homemaker had hidden — the mind of a psychopath serial killer behind her charming smile — and managed to lead a very normal life as one among them after eliminating six lives at regular intervals.

Everything from her claim of being an NIT lecturer at Kozhikode to a good laity turned out to be a web of lies in the investigation opened by the Crime Branch wing of the Kerala Police.

Lilly, a local woman, said she and Jolly had spent time together at a divine retreat centre just days before the police arrested her from "Ponnaramattom", her village house where some of the suspected murders had taken place.

Jolly even used to hold prayer meetings at her house, in which local devotees would take part, she said.

"We were together for a one-day meditation at the retreat centre just days ago. She looked very much cool and composed even when I asked about the ongoing police inquiry about the death of her husband Roy Thomas," she said.

Neighbours remembered her as a multi-tasking professional, who drove to the NIT campus every morning after her daily chores at home.

"We used to see Jolly going to NIT driving her car every morning. There are several people who met her on the campus of the prestigious institution. I don't know how she managed it. There was no room for any doubt till the police case came up," Manoj Kumar, another villager, said.

Even the teachers of the local school, where her second son is studying, were made to believe that she, a commerce graduate, in reality, was an NIT faculty.

It is still a mystery where the woman used to go and spend the whole day from morning till evening if she was not working at the engineering college.

It was also yet to unravel how she managed to forge the identity card of the prestigious institution and enter the campus, library and canteen frequently.

In reality, Jolly had forged the certificate of a post-graduation course and that of the University Grants Commission to convince people about her NIT identity, police sources said adding she was not a B.Tech graduate, as claimed by her but a commerce degree holder.

Sulekha, a local beauty parlour owner, dismissed Jolly's claim to a section of friends and relatives that she was an employee in the saloon.

"I have know Jolly for some time... but she was just a customer... she convinced me also that she was a NIT faculty," Sulekha said.

As Jolly had successfully masked her real self in the last 17 years through a series of lies, pious and convincing behaviour, Koodathayi and its native people are yet to recover from the shock of the new revelations.

Besides Jolly, M S Mathew (44), a close friend of the woman and Prajikumar (48), who had allegedly supplied the cyanide, have so far been arrested.

Eight years after her first husband Roy Thomas's death following consumption of cyanide-laced food, police had arrested Jolly and two others on Saturday and started investigations into the death of five others of the family.

Her second husband Shaju was questioned for almost the whole day on Monday and was let off after his statement was recorded.

A Special Investigation Team has been probing the case after receiving a complaint from Roy's US-based brother, Rojo, over the six deaths between 2002-2016.

Jolly has been arrested only in the case relating to the death of her husband Roy Thomas due to the presence of cyanide mentioned in his post-mortem report.

For the rest of the deaths, the police are yet to identify the presence of cyanide or anything in the forensic analysis which was done after exhuming the remains.

While Jolly's in-laws Annamma Thomas and Tom Thomas had died in 2002 and 2008 respectively, Roy Thomas passed away in 2011 and Annamma's brother Mathew in 2014.

Jolly later got married to their relative Shaju, whose wife Sili and one-year-old daughter had died in 2016.

(Published 08 October 2019, 06:57 IST)

Follow us on