On October 5, 2019, 47-year-old wife and mother Jollyamma “Jolly” Joseph was arrested for the murder of her first husband, Roy Thomas. The news stunned her neighbors, who described her as kind and welcoming, a good woman. Family members said she was a caring sister, a cherished daughter, and a bright student. It was not until her brother-in-law challenged the validity of his father’s will that Indian law enforcement had ever heard of Jolly.
While it was the unwitnessed and unregistered will that Jolly produced that stirred her brother-in-law to contact law enforcement, perhaps it was the geographic distance between Jolly, residing in the Koodathayi village in the northern Kerali province of India, and her U.S.-based brother-in-law that kept him from falling for her charms and, as it turned out, deception.
Others have not been so lucky. What started out as a property dispute has morphed into a serial killer investigation as Jolly has allegedly confessed to murdering six family members between 2002 and 2016-a mother-in-law, father-in-law, husband, uncle-in-law, cousin-in-law, and the two-year-old daughter of her husband’s cousin.
Evidence is mounting against her. Her father has stated that she told him about the murders shortly before she was arrested, in hopes that her family would stick by her. Suspicion that others were involved-either as pawns of Jolly’s manipulation or as willing participants in her schemes-are also swirling. Two men have been arrested for supplying her with cyanide over the past 14 years, although the extent of their knowledge and involvement has yet to be determined. Local CPI(M) member K Manoj was questioned by the police after he was accused of being paid by Jolly to help her prepare a fake will of her father-in-law. Her second husband, whom she married after poisoning his wife and two-year-old daughter, has also been questioned.
One thing is certain; Jollyamma Joseph was not who she seemed. Even as the deaths in her family mounted, no one suspected that she was a serial killer.
Living a Web of Lies
It’s hard to separate out what is true about people after are they are accused of a horrendous crime, as memories tend to be tainted by the present. Of course, it is also true that sometimes things that were…