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Jovial by day, slayer at night: Kerala’s lady serial killer

Despite being cheerful in appearance, did Jolly Thomas, the alleged serial cyanide killer of Kozhikode, suffer from a personality disorder?

Police say killer could have hidden traits of a psychopath, who went on to eliminate her husband, in-laws and relatives one after the other.

Police began the probe into the deaths of six family members after Jolly’s former brother-in-law, Rojo, now settled in Florida, approached the Superintendent of Police and voiced his suspicions over the series of mysterious deaths.

Jolly, who allegedly killed six family members at regular intervals spanning over 14 years, could also be suffering from split personality, where she led two different roles in life — that of a housewife and a cold blooded serial killer — feels Director General of Police (DGP), Kerala, Lok Nath Behera.

In fact, the overall jovial personality of 47-year-old Jolly Thomas has baffled the investigators, who are interrogating one of the most intriguing criminal minds accused of wiping out an entire family.

While primary forensic evidence suggests that Jolly poisoned six family members to death by serving them food laced with cyanide, her friends and close relatives feel that she is ‘innocent’ and is being framed in the case.

All these mysterious deaths took place in the family of retired government official Tom Thomas, while all six dead bodies were exhumed last week for the investigations.

The first in the family to die in 2002 was Thomas’ wife and Jolly’s mother-in-law Annamma, a retired teacher. She was followed by Jolly’s father-in-law, Tom Thomas, in 2008. In 2011, their son and Jolly’s husband, Roy Thomas, also died to be followed by the death of Roy’s maternal uncle, Mathew, who died in 2014.

Two years later, another close relative Sily, the wife of Shaju (Jolly’s paramour), and her one year old child died under similar circumstance.

The police have sent the exhumed remains of the deceased for forensic examination. Initial reports have indicated poisoning as cause of the deaths.

The cyanide serial killings seem to be the rarest of crimes to be reported in India in recent times. No wonder, the modus operandi of the killings has stunned state police chief Behera, who has investigated several high-profile cases as Joint Director, Special Crimes, in Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

“Let me admit, this case is too complicated as it involves a homely lady who apparently looks very normal in her behavior, but evidence gathered by us indicates that she is a serial killer. I have now asked the officials to engage the best psychologists to carry out an in-depth study of her mental behaviour,” the IPS officer of Kerala cadre told IANS.

On potassium cyanide being used by Jolly as a lethal weapon, Behera said that prima-facie the forensic examination of the mortal remains of the victims, which have been exhumed from their graves, suggest that poisoning caused all the deaths.

“But we have to probe threadbare into the cause of deaths. To ascertain that cyanide was used to kill the victims, I intend to dispatch the samples to the best forensic labs. If we do not get any specific leads from the Indian labs, the government would send the samples to England, which is considered to have the most advanced forensic toxicology labs, to find out traces of cyanide if the chemical was used in the killings,” said Behera, who is supervising the case that has sent shock waves across the southern state.

Meanwhile, Jolly’s son Romo Roy (21) said that though it was difficult to believe that his mother could execute the killings of his father, grandfather, grandmother and other family members, if the evidence gathered against her suggests that she is an accused, then the law should take it’s own course.

Romo’s statement on his mother’s involvement could shed more light on the mystery killings which have been buried in police files for years.

Sources said that several witnesses, including the neighbors of the Thomas family, are being questioned by the police to gather evidence in the case.

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