The scary story of Jolly Joseph has six strange deaths caused by her bizarre method of mixing curry with cyanide to kill her family members. The deaths occurred over 14 years in the peaceful town of Kootadathayi, Kerala.
Jolly emerged as the most horrific serial killer in Kerala. Her story highlights the hidden dark aspects of human nature within the calm town.
Who is Jolly Joseph?
Jolly Joseph was the daughter of a farmer from Vazhavara village in Idukki. She appeared to be a cheerful and pleasant soul. She was the first in her family to attend college. Jolly was an ambitious woman who dreamed of a life beyond the farm.
She met Roy Thomas in 1997 during a housewarming function of her relatives. Jolly aspired to live a luxurious life. It was the reason for her to fall in love with Roy probably. Because Roy belonged to an educated and wealthy family, unlike Jolly. Although, they married later that year.
Roy was the eldest son of the Ponnamattam family in Koodathi. His father, Tom Thomas, was a senior clerk in the education department. His mother, Annamma, was a teacher. He had a younger brother Rojo Thomas, and a sister, Ranji Thomas, rumored to have a high-paying job in Hyderabad.
The Lies of Jolly
The marriage of Jolly and Roy was not as ideal as it seemed. Some years into their marriage, Roy found himself unexpectedly unemployed, spending his days at home—a situation contrary to what they had envisioned.
On the other hand, Jolly had also lied about having an M.Com degree. While she went to college, she never finished the post-graduate studies that she claimed before the marriage.
The first murder of Jolly’s mother-in-law
The mother-in-law of Jolly, Annamma Thomas, became the first victim of Jolly’s brutal murders. Annamma insisted that Jolly must acquire a job as being a highly qualified M.Com graduate. She grew much more determined after her retirement.
As a result, Jolly lied even more. She told her family she had accepted a guest lectureship at a college in Kottayam. She moved out and only came home on weekends to pretend she was doing her job. But her thought that Annamma may discover her lies troubled her.
So, she decided to take matters into her own hands and took the life of Annamma. She mixed the cyanide into a soup of her mother-in-law on Aug 22, 2002. After taking soup, Annamma passed away.
The second murder of Jolly’s Father-in-law
The next victim of Jolly was her father-in-law, Tom Thomas. Tom had a reasonable amount of land, about 1600 square meters. He intended to gift it to his younger daughter Ranji and US-settled son Rojo.
Jolly feared that her useless husband would be left with nothing, so she made a scheme to seize the land. Tom was in Colombo in 2008 to visit Ranji. Jolly called him back to look after her as she was pregnant and her husband drank too much.
A worried Tom returned to Kerala after hearing this. When Jolly got control of his owned properties by murdering him. She mixed cyanide in a curry of Tom and murdered him six years after the first murder. Afterward, she wrote a will donating all properties of Tom to her husband, Roy.
Despite property greed, another reason for Jolly to murder his father-in-law was Tom had discovered her extramarital affair with Mathew. Her boyfriend Mathew provided her with cyanide.
The Third Murder of Roy Thomas
The first two deaths raised no red flags. Because they were both old, so people perceived they passed away naturally due to old age sickness. The third death of Roy Thomas in 2011 also raised no concerns among people due to his toxic drinking.
Jolly opted to murder Roy because he came to know about the extramarital affair of her wife with Mathew. She also murdered him in the same way, mixing cyanide in his curry.
Roy was found unconscious on the floor of his bathroom on Oct 30, 2011, while vomiting and spitting blood from his mouth. At the hospital, he was declared dead.
The siblings of Roy, Rojo, and Ranji, with his uncle Mathew (not to be confused with Jolly’s lover), got suspicious of the foul play of Jolly and reported the matter to police to investigate.
However, Jolly convinced the police that Roy was a miserable alcoholic who committed suicide. The local police officers agreed and did not investigate further.
The murder of Uncle Mathew, child Alfine, and her mother Sili
After the death of Roy, Jolly was now a landlady, and the path ahead of her was wide to make out a life for herself. But it did not make her stop murdering more people.
Uncle Mathew insisted police investigate the mysterious deaths of his sister Annamma, brother-in-law Tom, and nephew Roy. So, he became the next target of Jolly. She mixed his evening beverages with cyanide in 2014. He was rushed to hospital, but it was too late.
Meanwhile, Jolly was having another affair with her late husband’s first cousin, Shaju Zacharias. Shaju was a teacher with a constant source of handsome income. But he was married and had a daughter. So, Jolly decided to remove more hurdles out of her way.
She gave cyanide to the younger daughter of Shaju, Alfine, on May 1, 2014. The little Alfine died a few days later. The wife of Shaju, Sili, became the next target of Jolly. She took Sili to the dentist and spiked her medications with cyanide. As a result, Sili breathed her last. Afterward, Jolly and Shaju married in 2017.
How deaths turned into murders
Rojo and Ranji had never been satisfied with the different events happening with Jolly since the death of Roy. They remained suspicious of her. Finally, they approached the police in June 2019 and requested an investigation into the deaths of their parents and brother.
Following that, all of the dead bodies were unearthed and autopsied to prove the foul play of Jolly. The autopsy reports revealed the presence of cyanide in the deceased bodies.
Arrest and Confession of Jolly Joseph
Kerala police arrest Jolly following her bizarre murders on Oct 5, 2019. She was charged with homicide, criminal murder, and forging documents. She confessed to all of her crimes.
Her lover, Mathew, was also taken into custody because he provided Jolly cyanide to murder victims. Both are still in Kozhikode district jail and stand trial.
The horrific story of cyanide killings by Jolly Joseph in Kerala showed a web of lies and murders that date back more than ten years. Six family members died because of her lies, greed, and unreasonable needs. Jolly and her boyfriend Mathew are now facing trial.
However, the calm town of Kerala has to deal with the shocking truth of darkness hidden behind its presently peaceful facade.
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