In an suspected murder for gain, a 62-year-old rector from Tamil Nadu was strangulated inside St. Peter’s Pontifical Seminary in Bangalore in the wee hours of Monday.
The police said the assailants escaped with some valuables after striking the rector’s head with a blunt weapon before strangulating him with dhoti. Father K J Thomas, originally from Kerala but serving under the Ooty diocese, was staying at the Pontifical Seminary for five years. He was the managerial as well as spiritual head of a church and used to train novices who go on to become Catholic priests.
According to the police, the incident took place around 2 am and came to light at 4 pm when neighbour Father Patrick Xavier found Thomas’ body lying on the floor in a pool of blood at the visitor’s hall at the premises located next to a church on Malleshwaram 8th Main Road. He immediately informed local police. The police said that it was a case of murder for gain as a group of assailants ransacked his room and they also tried to break into Patrick’s room.
According to Father Xavier, Thomas and he had dined around 7.30 pm and were talking since 9.30 pm. Later, they duo slept around 10 pm. Between 2 am to 3 am, Patrick heard a loud noise. However, he did not bother to inspect as he guessed that it was coming from the road outside. After a while, he came out of his room and found blood marks on the floor. He followed the blood marks, which lead to Thomas’ body near the entrance of the visitor’s hall.
A police source said, “The assailants have taken `700 from his shirt pocket. They also checked some files and documents. Thomas was staying in his office room, which is attached to his bedroom. All the trainees are on vacation for the holidays. So, Thomas and Patrick were only two staying at the Seminary.”
The security guard, Ramsingh, who was on night duty at the church, reportedly did not hear any sound due to heavy rain at the time of the attack. The assailants entered the Seminary by jumping over the rear compound wall and gained entry into Thomas’ room. They dragged him out, chased him when he tried to escape and killed him, sources said.
A week ago, Thomas allegedly had a quarrel with a man concerning a nearby school’s compound, which is attached to the Seminary and had slapped him, added sources. On Sunday night, Thomas’ sister had called from Kerala and told him that she was on her way to Bangalore. Upon arriving in the city in the wee hours, she called his cellphone repeatedly but there was no response from him. Monday morning, she reached the Seminary and learned about Thomas’ tragic death.
The Yeshvanthpur police have registered a case and are investigating.