On Thursday morning, Jolly Joseph, the 47-year-old alleged serial killer from Koodathayi in Kozhikode, was handed over to the Crime Branch for questioning. Jolly, the prime suspect in the deaths of six members of her family, was brought from the Kozhikode district jail to the Thamarassery Judicial First Class magistrate court, where she was sent to the custody of the Crime Branch for six days.
Adding to the already sensational nature of the case is the level of public interest and discussion that the alleged murders - over the span of 14 years - have generated.
On Thursday, hundreds gathered around the court complex to catch a glimpse of the 47-year-old and her two alleged accomplices, who are believed to have supplied cyanide to her to carry out the murders. Also gathered among them were several people from the neighbourhood who lived near the residence of the Ponnamattam family and have had long associations with them.
“I have known Jolly’s former husband Roy Thomas for decades now. We used to be part of the same social circle. Then I moved to the Gulf and lost touch with him. It’s rather unfortunate that this has happened to the family,” a neighbour, who was at the court complex, said.
Jolly Joseph is accused of murdering six people in her family — her mother-in-law Annamma, father-in-law Tom Thomas, husband Roy Thomas, uncle Mathew as well as Cily and Alphine - the then wife and 2-year-old daughter of her current husband, Shaju. She allegedly poisoned all of them with cyanide.
The police are investigating the case and are questioning all suspects, including Shaju, her current husband and Johnson, Jolly’s neighbour who is believed to have been constantly in touch with her for the past few weeks. Police have also taken into custody Mathew, a jewellery store owner, and Praji Kumar, a gold smith, who have been accused of supplying the cyanide to Jolly.
A special investigation team comprising 35 officers and headed by range IG Ashok Yadav will be questioning the suspects in the case. The police are yet to establish scientific or medical evidence in the case by identifying traces of cyanide in the bodies of the deceased.