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Curry and Cyanide: Who is Jolly Joseph? Know about Kerala’s infamous serial murder case

Netflix's Curry and Cyanide - The Jolly Joseph Case, a true crime documentary on the 2019 serial murder case that shook Kerala, is now being showcased on one of the popular OTT platforms. Let us know more about the case before watching it tonight.

Curry and Cyanide Who is Jolly Joseph Know about Kerala infamous serial murder case  RBA
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First Published Dec 22, 2023, 5:06 PM IST

On December 22, a true crime documentary about six terrible deaths, Curry and Cyanide - The Jolly Joseph Case, was released on Netflix. The documentary, directed by Christo Tomy, an award-winning writer and filmmaker from Kerala, uncovers six terrible deaths in a family and the lady at the core of the incredible case - Jolly Joseph.

Who is Jolly Joseph?
Jollyamma Joseph, 47, was arrested in early October 2019 for killing six members of the Ponnamattam family, including a two-year-old, in the span of 14 years. The killings occurred in Koodathayi, Kozhikode district, Kerala. Cyanide is the mystery murder weapon in all cases.

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Curry and Cyanide Who is Jolly Joseph Know about Kerala infamous serial murder case  RBA

It all began when a guy called Rojo Thomas, a non-resident Indian residing in the United States, became suspicious of the deaths of his parents, brother, and other family members in 14 years. He filed a complaint with the police and sought that cases that had previously been classified as 'unnatural deaths' be reopened.

Following that, police officers and forensic medical professionals uncovered burial vaults at St Lourde's Church in Koodathayi and St Mary's Church in Kodencherry, both in Kerala's Kozhikode district, where family members were buried.

The detectives quickly focused down on Jolly Joseph, Roy Thomas' (Rojo's brother) ex-wife. For years, Joseph claimed her house was cursed and blamed it for the strange deaths.

Her mother-in-law died of an unknown ailment, according to reports. Three of her close relatives died of heart attacks, and her two-year-old niece choked to death on a piece of food. However, Kerala police presented a different scenario in October, claiming that Joseph poisoned each of them by feeding them cyanide-laced food and then covered up her crimes with falsehoods.

Jolly Joseph was arrested for the killings on October 5. They also detained her cousin M S Mathew and a jeweller called Prajikumar for supplying Joseph with cyanide.

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She was imprisoned at Kozhikode district jail, and then State Chief Police Loknath Behara called the developments in the murder case as a "difficult investigation." According to neighbours, the mother-of-two appeared to be a devout and cheerful woman.

Every day, she left the house under the guise of going to her job as a professor at the famed National Institute of Technology Calicut (NIT), approximately a half hour away. She volunteered at church in her leisure time.

A list of serial killers
Annamma, Joseph's mother-in-law, passed out after drinking some mutton soup on August 22, 2002. She was admitted to the hospital and eventually died. According to investigators, Jolly murdered her mother-in-law Annamma to acquire control of the family funds. Six years later, her father-in-law, Tom Thomas, died.

According to police, Jolly murdered Thomas to acquire the family's possessions. Jolly was discovered to have faked Thomas' will, which stated that the family property should be handed to Jolly and her husband Roy. Jolly murdered her husband, Roy Thomas, in 2011. He had an alcohol problem and no consistent source of money. She allegedly put cyanide in his rice and chickpea stew.

Because Roy Thomas' post-mortem examination revealed evidence of poison, the cause of death was considered a suicide at the time.

She later murdered Roy Thomas' maternal uncle, MM Mathew, when he complained about Roy's death. Mathew had requested a post-mortem examination for the earlier fatalities. Jolly put cyanide in his coffee because Mathew's wife was not at home that day.

Jolly married Roy Thomas' paternal cousin Shaju (the son of Tom Thomas' brother) after Roy died.

In 2016, she murdered Shaju's two-year-old daughter Alphine and Shaju's former wife Sily by feeding them cyanide-laced bread. While it was first assumed that Shaju was involved in the murders, he was eventually released following police investigation.

Sharing the trailer, the official handle of Netflix India wrote, "A small town in Kerala is shaken by a series of murders and all evidence points to Jolly Joseph. Did the chatty, friendly, much-loved Jolly really play a game of secrets, lies, and poison?"

The documentary was released in six different languages: Malayalam, Hindi, Kannada, Tamil, Telugu, and English.

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