CHENNAI: Sunday 1 pm: House No. 2/186 in Hanuman Colony is a bungalow typical of the usual architecture sighted on the East Coast Road. It is the first residential building as you enter the quiet neighbourhood in Injambakkam, right opposite the city’s only drive-in theatre. But, the address does not matter anymore. Henceforth, for the locals in the neighbourhood, it is ‘That house’. That house looks imposing with high compound walls, luxury cars and CCTV cameras at all entry points. It was ‘that house’, which had housed a man, who was arrested by the police and suspected to have killed three persons using poisoned syringes.
Every local who walks past the huge walls of the house to the main road never fails to steal a glance at the house. The glance means so many things to so many of them.
The man, Stephen (41), a real estate businessman, has already been dubbed as the ‘syringe killer’ and reports have emerged as to how he had drawn inspiration from an European documentary film.
But, for the residents of Hanuman Colony, it is as much shocking as it is scary. “It is not everyday that you open a newspaper, read about your neighbourhood and learn that your neighbour is a suspected serial killer,” M Venkatesh (name changed) told Express. Venkatesh runs a provision store down the road and had seen Stephen a few times.
Locals say that Stephen had bought the bungalow just over a year ago and moved in here. “Most of us do not know much about people who live in such houses, except that they are well off. It is not like the old times where you know everything about your neighbours,” Venkatesh quipped.
Stephen’s next door neighbours Express tried to speak to refused to divulge much about Stephen or his behaviour or their interactions, if any, with him. Only an old woman uttered a few words which reflected their state of mind. “Honestly, We do not know whether we should be talking to strangers anymore,” the lady said with a stern face.
A lone constable is seated at the entrance of Hanuman Colony. He has been posted there on a routine duty. “I feel that people approach us immediately in case they saw movement of any suspicious persons in the area,” the constable say. Fear pervades the atmosphere. The idea of ‘what if?’ has sprung up in conversations among people there.
What if Stephen hadn’t reported about the burglary in his house on April 4? What if the cops hadn’t acted on his complaint? What if the burglary suspects weren’t caught? What if the burglars had not happened to be former staff of the prime suspect? What if Stephen hadn’t led the cops to the murders committed last year? A personality would have continued to be guarded by a facade of 10-foot high walls that surround the house No. 2/186.