How a broken father-son relationship ended in a macabre murder in Kerala

His father 68-year old Joy V John was an ex- Indian Air Force employee who later settled in the U.S.
How a broken father-son relationship ended in a macabre murder in Kerala
How a broken father-son relationship ended in a macabre murder in Kerala

The macabre killing of NRI Joy V John in Chengannur by his own son Sherin on May 25, according to the police, had its murderous seeds sown much earlier in an abusive childhood coupled with simmering animosity in a dysfunctional father-son relationship gone horribly wrong.

Alapuzha district police chief P Ashok Kumar informed the media that 36-year old Sherin was born and brought up in the U.S. and had Indian-origin American citizenship. Since 2013, Sherin was reportedly working as a consultant with an IT giant, while living in his ancestral house Uzhathil Vazhamangalam at Chengannur.

His father 68-year old Joy V John was an ex- Indian Air Force employee who later settled in the U.S. with his family and had been living there for the past three decades. He met his brutal end at the hands of his own son while on a visit to his birth place.

It was on May 19 that Joy had landed in Kerala from the States along with his wife Mariyamma and their children Dr. Sheril and Dr. Sherly -the brother and sister of Sherin who had himself picked them up from the Nedumbaserry airport in Kochi and dropped them at their ancestral home in Chengannur.

According to police sources, Joy had apparently told Sherin to stay away from home till the rest of the family returned to the U.S. following which Sherin shifted to a hotel room at Thiruvalla.

According to Sherin, his animosity towards his father had taken root right from childhood days, when Joy used to show a marked preference towards his siblings, always singling him out for negligence and questioning him over his various financial dealings, as he grew up.

Joy –Sherin told the police- used to beat him well into adulthood, and it was supposedly because of his father that he left America. Sherin was also often threatened that he would be disinherited and that his share of the property would go to orphanages.

The father had also appointed a manager to look after the shopping complex and various properties owned by the family in and around Chengannur. This manager had specific instructions to give money to Sherin, only when the latter produced the requisite bills for the daily expenditure incurred.

The police believe that it was a well-thought out murder and not an impassioned killing in the heat of the moment, as they were earlier led to believe by Sherin’s statement to his mother over the phone asking her to forgive him for his error of judgement.

It was this phone call that made Mariyamma filed a man missing case on May 26 and one which also enabled the police to trace Sherin’s own whereabouts leading to his subsequent arrest.

Here’s a rough construction of the timeline of what happened on the fateful day:

- On May 25, at around 8am, father and son leave for Thiruvananthapuram after Joy asks Sherin to accompany him to Thiruvananthapuram in order to get the air-conditioner of their Skoda car repaired.

- Failure to book in advance forces them to return without any repair work being done.

- Sherin drives the car in the absence of a driver. He had earlier flicked Joy’s American-made revolver without his father’s knowledge and had it on his person. He had also kept a scythe too in the car.

- Both get into a verbal spat over financial dealings, especially regarding the rent collected from the shopping complex with Joy accusing Sherin of having misappropriated the said amount of one and a half lakh rupees.

- When the car passed through a secluded spot near Mulakkuzha Koolikadavil in Chengannur sometime between 4.30- 5 pm in the evening, Sherin guns down his father by shooting him four times in the head. Death is instantaneous.

- Sherin then lays out his father’s body in the back seat and covers it with a towel and collapses the seat on top of him.

- Drives through Chengannur town for almost 12 hours during which he goes to his hotel, parks the car, goes to his room, takes a bath, goes to a petrol bunk in an autorickshaw, buys around 10 litres of petrol and returns to the hotel.

- Around 10.30 pm, drives into the basement of their multi-storeyed shopping complex in Chengannur town, waves to the security guard manning a shop opposite the place and drives in reverse into the godown.

- Lays the body out on a tin sheet, collects a few inflammable material lying around, pours petrol and lights a fire. Realising that the fire could go out of hand, douses it.

- Chops the body parts to six pieces by separating the head and all the four limbs from the torso, packs each separately in plastic sacks and dumps them one by one at various places.

- The severed limbs -except for the left leg- were later recovered near the Araattupuzha bridge, Mangalam Kadavu and Pampa river, the head from Changanaserry and the torso from Chingavanam.

- Goes back and cleans up the basement and the vehicle for any tell-tale signs and leaves the car at a car-wash centre. The entire process is over by around 4.30am on May 26.

- Calls up his mother by 8.30am and admits to quarelling with his father and asks forgiveness for an ‘error of hand’, following which he switches off his mobile and goes missing.

- Mariyamma lodges a complaint with the Chengannur police who launch a manhunt for the father-son duo. Sherin is then nabbed from a hotel at Kottayam on May 28.

What makes the tragic turn of events all the more gruesome is the fact that Sherin who confessed to the crime only on Sunday has shown absolutely no remorse over the whole incident and has even admitted to photographing his father’s severed remains using his tablet.

Sherin has been charged under section 302 for murder and section 201for destruction of evidence under the Indian Penal Code and was remanded to judicial custody on Monday.

The investigation is headed by DySp KR Shivasuthan Pillai who is assisted by circle inspector G Ajay Nath and sub-inspector P Rajesh. The recovered body parts are being kept at the Alapuzha Medical College and will be handed over to relatives after post-mortem.

Search for the severed left leg has been intensified.

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