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'Curry and Cyanide - The Jolly Joseph Case': All about Koodathayi murders that shook Kerala

The documentary, directed by Christo Tomy, will stream on Netflix from December 22

Curry and Cyanide - The Jolly Joseph Case: All about Koodathayi murders that shook Kerala

Netflix recently released the trailer of a new true-crime documentary Curry and Cyanide - The Jolly Joseph Case that invoked memories of a case that jolted Kerala—a tale of brutal murder, deceit, sex and attempted suicide.

The documentary, directed by Christo Tomy, will stream on Netflix from December 22.

In 2019, Jollyamma Joseph was arrested for the six mysterious deaths within her own family over a time span of 14 years in Koodathayi of Kozhikode. The case shook the people to their core because the victims were no strangers, but her kith and kin.

Jollyamma Joseph, known as Jolly in short among her friends and relatives is a woman from Kattappana of Idukki district in Kerala who moved to Koodathayi after her marriage in 1997.

She was considered the ideal woman by her relatives and neighbours until her arrest on October 5, 2019 for the murder of her first husband Roy Thomas. The probe then unravelled her double life and the mystery of five other deaths that had taken place in the family over the years.

The serial killings began in 2002 with the death of Jolly’s mother-in-law Annamma, who was believed to have died of a cardiac arrest.

No one suspected it considering her age, but the truth was exposed after more than a decade with Jolly’s arrest. She confessed to killing Annamma by mixing poison in her mutton soup so that she could have control over the family's finances.

Jolly had also lied of being a school teacher in the same town and knew that it was only a matter of time that her dominating mother-in-law caught up. So, Jolly eliminated the one hurdle she had in the way of her dreams.

Jolly then took over the family matters but her aspirations of being the sole owner of the family wealth could not be fulfilled as her husband Roy was not the only heir. His brother Rojo, who is the reason behind this unveiling of truths, and his sister Ranji, also had equal rights to the wealth.

So Jolly targeted her father-in-law, Tom Thomas, next. He was found dead in 2008, and again it was Jolly who found the body and called for help. She convinced everyone that it was a cardiac arrest and just like before there was no reason to suspect foul play. Years later, the investigation revealed that it was a meticulously planned murder as Jolly had mixed cyanide in his mushroom capsule medication.

Jolly managed to keep her facade as a lecturer at NIT, Calicut and maintained her image of a perfect mother, wife and friendly neighbour excellently that people found it hard to believe she was a hardcore criminal and a psychopath

. After killing Tom, Jolly forged a will that stated that she would be the freeholder of the house they lived in. This aroused doubt in the mind of Rojo, but his suspicions were scoffed at as such was the clout Jolly had in the family.

This dark tale of blood and gore does not end with this as the next victim was her then husband Roy Thomas. Roy did not have a steady job and lived off of his father’s savings.

Jolly reportedly had an illicit relationship with Roy's friend Mathew who helped her source cyanide from Prajith, a local goldsmith by offering him liquor, Rs 5,000 and a night with her, according to Death, Lies and Cyanide, a Spotify podcast on the murders.

Then in 2011, Roy was found dead in the bathroom foaming at the mouth, but unlike before people did not buy into her story of cardiac arrest. This time, Roy’s maternal uncle Mathew Manjadiyil sensed foul play and demanded a postmortem after which traces of cyanide were found in his body.

Immediately, Jolly turned the story into a suicide and hushed up the relatives in the name of family reputation.

This made Manjadiyil her next target. She did not want to risk her facade and eliminated him in 2014, three years after Roy’s death. Mathew was found dead at his house after she had poured him poison-laden whiskey. This, too, was left unquestioned and the next murder also took place later that year.

The next victim of this killing spree was a two-year-old girl, Alphine, the child of the man Jolly later married. She was believed to have choked to death at her sibling’s Holy Communion, but similar to the other cases, Jolly was the mastermind behind this callous murder.

Jolly was attracted to Shaju, Roy’s cousin and Alphine’s father and she befriended his wife Sily whom she killed in 2016 by giving her a cyanide-mixed drink while they accompanied Shaju for his dental appointment. Since it occurred in a public place it did not raise suspicion and Jolly married Shaju the next year.

Things took a unexpected turn when Rojo filed a case in 2019 to investigate the death of his brother Roy as he found discrepancies in Jolly’s story. According to Jolly, Roy had not eaten anything after 3:30pm but the autopsy report that Rojo procured through RTI stated that he had eaten dinner.

This investigation led to the unravelling of the heinous crimes committed in the Punnamattom house over the years by a 47-year-old mother of two. This was a rare case where the bodies of all the deceased were exhumed from the burial grounds as part of investigation as there were no other way to procure hard evidence since the murders occurred over a period of 14 long years.

It was not until the Jolly Joseph Cyanide Case that the serene town of Koodathayi grabbed attention in India. Mathew, a jewellery employee and , and Prajith, the goldsmith who claimed to have supplied cyanide to Jolly for killing a rat, were also booked in the case.

The fourth accused of this case is Manoj Kumar, who according to reports, was associated with the forged will and is believed to have helped Jolly because of her generous contributions to his real-estate dealings

. The other accomplice is Johnson, a worker at BSNL who abused his authority to help Jolly. Jolly attempted suicide on February 27, 2020, by biting her wrists while in custody.

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