Indian Woman Laced Curries and Coffees With Cyanide, Killed 6 Members of Her Family in 17 Years

A woman has confessed to systemically killing off members of her family by lacing their food and drink with cyanide—taking responsibility for six murders over the course of 17 years.

Jolly Shaju, previously known as Jolly Thomas, was motivated by control and money, according to a police press conference held on Monday in her home district of Kozhikode in Kerala, southern India.

Among Shaju's victims are in-laws, a former husband and, most disturbingly, a two-year-old child.

"We arrested Jolly Thomas, her friend M Mathew who arranged potassium cyanide, and a jewelry worker Praju Kumar who supplied the poisonous substance," Kozhikkode Rural Police Chief KG Simon said, reported The Hindustan Times.

The arrests were made following a one-year investigation into the case, he added.
The murders started in 2002 when Shaju's mother-in-law, Anamma Thomas, was the first to be killed. She died after eating mutton soup that was laced with the chemical.

In 2008, Anamma's husband was also killed in similar fashion—reportedly dying after he ate curry and rice.

Simon said that when the pair died in turn, no one suspected foul play on either occasion.

Their son, Shaju's husband Roy Thomas, was next to be murdered, again having consumed rice and curry. After he was found dead in a bathroom that was locked from the inside, local police ruled it was suicide.

Roy's uncle, 68-year-old Mathew Manjadiyil, then pushed for a post-mortem, and although results showed that a poisonous substance was found in his system, the verdict of suicide was maintained.

File photo of a vial and syringe
File photo of a vial and syringe. Jolly Shaju, previously known as Jolly Thomas, confessed to killing six members of her family with cyanide. Getty

It was then in 2014 that Manjadiyil was also killed—having drunk coffee laced with the rapidly acting compound.

Shaju then married her ex-husband's cousin, Scaria Shaju, in 2017, but not before killing his wife Cily and two-year-old baby Alphine the year before.

Scaria had been briefly detained by local authorities in connection with the death of his wife and daughter, but local reports stated he was released citing a lack of evidence.

Shaju herself had only been arrested following demands by her ex-husband's brother, Rojo Thomas, for local authorities to investigate. When Shaju was arrested on Friday, police said they would exhume all the graves related to the case and, having found cyanide contamination in all of them, Shaju admitted to the killings.

Local reports also alleged that she was motivated by wanting to take control of the family finances and state officials are reportedly being investigated for creating fake wills.

Indian Woman Laced Curries and Coffees With Cyanide, Killed 6 Members of Her Family in 17 Years | World