Vijayawada: A month after Kerala was stunned by the Koodathayi serial killings – in which a woman allegedly killed six members of her family with cyanide-laced food – a similar case has emerged from Andhra Pradesh.
Andhra Pradesh police on Tuesday arrested Vellanki Simhadri alias Shiva, who allegedly killed 10 people in the last two years by giving them cyanide-laced ‘prasadam’ (temple offering).
Police said Shiva’s victims were from Krishna, East Godavari and West Godavari districts. He killed people between February 2018 and October 16, 2019, the police claimed.
Police said Shiva, who hails from Eluru, began to cheat people after he incurred huge losses in the real estate business.
He convinced his potential clients that he had supernatural powers and would help them double their gold and find treasure and precious stones. Then he would collect their money and gold with a promise to give them “rice-pulling coins’, the coin which is believed to bring prosperity. Then he gave them cyanide-laced ‘prasadam.’
“He was using cyanide to kill his victims because no changes were observed in the bodies of the deceased and they appeared natural deaths,” the police officer said.
He said the killings came to light during investigation of a suspicious death in Eluru last month. K Nagaraju (49), a government teacher, had died on October 16 after he had left his house with cash and jewellery to deposit them in the bank. Shiva had fooled him into paying Rs 2 lakh in exchange for a coin, which is believed to bring prosperity.
An autopsy was conducted after Nagaraju’s family voiced suspicion over the death. During interrogation, Shiva confessed to the crime.
As families of at least 10 contacts in Shiva’s mobile phone had reported suspicious deaths since last year, the police launched in-depth investigations.
Police found that Shiva’s victims included his own grandmother and sister-in-law. FIRs were registered in only four cases.
Police plan to exhume bodies of three victims. Investigators hope to gather more clues to build a strong case against the accused.
Police also arrested Sheikh Aminullah, who runs nickel-coating workshop in Vijayawada, for allegedly supplying cyanide to Simhadri.
Kerala Police had arrested 47-year-old Jolly Joseph in September for allegedly poisoning six people, including her first husband Roy Thomas and her in-laws, to death over a period of 14 years from 2002 in Kerala’s Kozhikode district.
The first in the family to die in 2002 was Jolly’s mother-in-law Annamma, a retired teacher. She was followed by Jolly’s father-in-law, Tom Thomas, in 2008. In 2011, their son and Jolly’s husband, Roy Thomas, also died to be followed by the death of Roy’s maternal uncle, Mathew, who died in 2014.
The two-year-old child of Sily, a relative by marriage, died the following year, while Sily passed away in 2016.
(With inputs from IANS)
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