Around 5 pm on Thursday, a large crowd gathered outside ‘Job Bhavan’, a two-storied house in Kureepally near Kundara in Kollam district, started getting agitated and screaming expletives.
A few started throwing stones at the woman who was being taken into the house. The huge contingent of police personnel accompanying her could do little to stop the crowd.
The angry crowd cursed her without hesitation, because she had just been booked by the police for the murder of her own teenage son, Jithu Job.
The macabre murder and the way the body of the ninth grade student was disposed off has shocked the people of the neighborhood, who find it hard to believe the mother could have done it, that too all by herself.
Fourteen-year-old Jithu Job went missing on Monday evening.
His parents Job John and Jaya Mol approached the police and said that their son had gone to a stationery shop to buy a ruler but had not returned.
A frantic search ensued, and messages were put out on social media, but there was still no trace of Jithu Job.
The case took a curious turn when the police found discrepancies in the mother’s statement. When Jithu’s slipper was found at the back of the house and fresh burn marks were noticed on Jaya Mol’s hands, suspicions arose. The police say that on questioning, she made the chilling confession of having killed her son in a fit of anger, by strangling him with a dupatta.
“Jaya told us that she didn't like her son going to her in-laws’ place frequently. She tried to stop him several times. That day, too, when he was about to go, she tried to block him. But he didn't listen. This provoked her,” Chathannur Sub Inspector Nizar told TNM, “She behaved normally with her husband when he came home that evening, but now she has clearly explained what she did.”
According to the police, Jaya strangled her son to death in the kitchen. Then, she dragged his body to the backyard and burnt him with dry leaves and coconut shells, say police.
‘Job Bhavan’ is a large house with a lot of empty space, and no one noticed what went on there on Monday evening.
Jithu’s burnt remains were recovered from an empty plot 300 meters away from the house on Wednesday evening. Jaya is said to have confessed to dragging the body to the empty plot all by herself.
The evidence collection
Job John had just finished Jithu’s last rites at the St George Orthodox Church, when police brought Jaya to the house.
At the house, Jaya was asked to enact what happened on the day of the crime. Separating their house and the empty plot was a small wall. When the police asked how she had jumped across, she just said that she managed. But the police wanted her to show them how she did it. After some hesitation, Jaya jumped the wall, and the livid crowd howled in anger.
What had initially puzzled the investigators was that the body seemed disfigured, the hands and legs seemed to have been chopped off. But Jaya reportedly told the police that she had not hacked her son. The body fell apart as she burnt it, and she simply carried all the parts across to the empty plot. The autopsy has reportedly substantiated Jaya’s claims that the body had not been hacked.
A murder without an accomplice?
Many media reports claimed that Jaya had an accomplice, but the police say they have no evidence so far to prove the theory.
“We haven't got any evidence to prove that the crime was carried out with the help of someone else,” Nizar said.
But the neighbourhood is already abuzz with theories of an accomplice.
"The family lacked for nothing, they were financially well off. Job was very close to Jithu. When he came from the shop on Monday, Jaya told him that Jithu had gone to the shop. When he didn't return, the neighbors told them to search the premises, but Jaya didn't allow that. We have told the police that we suspect she had an affair and that’s why Jithu was killed,” a member of Job’s family, who didn't want to be named, said.
But their family members who simply cannot believe that Jaya was capable of killing her son. "Jaya is a very good woman and had a good bond with all of us. She is a mother who loves her children a lot. I don't know what happened and what made her do this. My daughter who lives nearby says Jaya had been looking disturbed for the past few days," said Eliamma, Job's aunty.
Even as the two families and the neighborhood try to come to terms with the murder, police say Jaya’s confessions and the evidence they have collected have helped them build a watertight case. “We are convinced that her statements are right,” ACP Santosh Kumar of the District Crime Records Bureau says.