CHENNAI: Investigations into what initially appeared as a run-of-the-mill house burglary have led police to unearth a series of murders by a city businessman, who was the owner of the burgled house.
When the Neelankarai police began a probe into a burglary complaint from a 41-year-old real estate businessman, little did they think that they would have to reopen three death cases which were months ago closed as mere cases of unnatural death.
On Wednesday, the police arrested Stephen of Hanuman Colony, Injambakkam on the charges of three murders that took place over a period of six months last year, which police now believe Stephen committed, using cyanide-filled syringes. All three deceased men were reportedly having a strained relationship with Stephen.
“The accused had used lethal injections filled with cyanide and attached it with an umbrella to murder the three persons whom he had strained relationships with,” a police officer said. While police officers suspect Stephen had hired henchmen to carry out the murders, the exact modus operandi is yet to be made clear and would require further investigations.
It all started on April 4 when Stephen approached the Neelankarai police with a complaint about a burglary at his house. “He had stated that 40 sovereigns of gold jewellery went missing from his house which was broke open,” according to the police complaint.
Subsequent investigations led the cops to two of Stephen’s former drivers, P Balaji (32) and J Anandan (27) of Kottivakkam. The duo, along with another person, V Satishkumar (26), a BE graduate, were found to have plotted the burglary.
But what came as a shock for the investigators was the reason that bolstered the trio to carry out the burglary. “One of the accused told us about Stephen’s involvement in at least three murders including that of his brother-in-law. He said that Stephen employed some innovative means to kill the three of them and since he was aware of this and also aided in the murders, he assumed that Stephen would not approach the police, even if his house was burgled,” a senior police officer said.
Stephen is a native of Uthiramerur and is separated from his wife Mary Roselin. According to police, the first victim of Stephen was his brother-in-law, John Philomenon whom Stephen believed caused the rift between his and his wife. “On April 19, 2015 Stephen murdered John after setting up a meeting in the Thousand Lights area in Chennai,” an investigating officer said. John’s body was found on the roadside and the case was closed as that of a suspicious death.
Within a month, on May 17, 2015 the next murder followed. This time, it was the husband of a woman he was said to be in a relationship with in Uthiramerur. Sridhar was murdered in a similar fashion and five months later, in Madipakkam, he is said to have murdered another person, Henry, on October 10, 2015. The Madipakkam police registered a case of suspicious death.
One of the trio, who assisted Stephen in the murders, was paid handsomely by the latter. “We have already alerted the concerned police stations to reopen the cases,” a senior police officer said. Preliminary investigations have revealed that Stephen had procured the chemicals to be used in the syringes from Mumbai. “A raid at his house in Injambakkam resulted in the procurement of two unlicensed pistols, syringes and chemicals,” an officer said.