Black Widow

India Today|October 21, 2019

Black Widow
SERIAL KILLER JOLLYAMMA ALLEGEDLY POISONED SIX MEMBERS OF HER FAMILY OVER 14 YEARS. ONE OF HER VICTIMS WAS JUST TWO YEARS OLD
Jeemon Jacob

For 14 years, death appeared to have been stalking the members of a family in the Koodathai village of Kozhikode district in north Kerala. Between 2002 and 2016, six members of the Ponnamattom family suffered mysterious deaths.

In 2002, Annamma Thomas, a 57-year-old retired school teacher, collapsed and died. Six years later, her husband Tom Thomas, a retired assistant education officer, also died. In 2011, their son Roy Thomas, a 42-year-old businessman, allegedly committed suicide. Three years later, Annamma’s brother Matthew Manjadiyil also died, and a month after that, a relative—two-year-old Alphine Shaju—went the same way. The last death took place in 2016, when Alphine’s mother, Sily Shaju, also died.

All these deaths had one detail in common—Roy’s wife Jollyamma had been present at every incident. Though she was often described as a loving daughter-in-law, a caring wife and a devout church-goer, in June 2019, Rojo Thomas, her husband’s brother, filed a police complaint. He did not believe Roy had committed suicide, and also wanted an investigation into a will allegedly prepared by his father in 2008, which transferred ownership of the family home and 35 cents of land (about a third of an acre) to Jolly.

As a result of Rojo’s complaint, Kozhikode rural police began investigating and soon homed in on Jolly. When she was eventually confronted with the evidence, she allegedly confessed, admitting to poisoning all six victims with cyanide. On October 5, Jolly was for mally arrested, along with two others— M.S. Mathew, 44, a close relative and manager of a jewellery store, and Prajikumar, 47, a goldsmith who supplied the poison. (Potassium cyanide is used as a cleaning agent for jewellery.

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October 21, 2019