MADURAI: The year was 2015, and the day - September 2; the body of a 59-year-old homemaker was found lying dead on the first floor of her house. Though the police were quick to launch a probe, it hit a roadblock, as there was none to suspect.
What made the murder particularly gruesome is the number of stab wounds on the woman's body - a staggering 53. The woman's gold jewellery, weighing around 17 sovereigns, was missing. And this led the Keerathurai crime police to believe that it could be a case of murder-for-gain.
Now, four-and-a-half years later, exactly on Wednesday, they zeroed in on three persons in connection with the murder of R Suriya Prabha. The breakthrough came when the sleuths of the Serious Crime Squad of the city police detained 24-year-old M Kannan alias Ujadi Kannan from Valaithoppu in connection with a case. Hunt is on for the remaining suspects.
According to police sources, during interrogation, the man spilt the beans on his involvement in the killing of the woman. "When she opened the door, they tried to rob her, with one of them stabbing her in the process. As she fell, others in the gang, many members of which were minors and under the influence of ganja, took turns in stabbing her. It was their first time in killing and wanted a 'first-hand experience'. After making sure that the woman is dead, the gang took her body upstairs," they said.
The suspect, Kannan, also gave details of a number of persons, members of his gang, which used to be into ganja peddling and lived near Suriya Prabha's house. Armed with this information, police gained momentum in the investigation, four-and-a-half-year after the incident.
Soon, the police traced down and arrested a 22-year-old man from Coimbatore, and an 18-year-old boy from Kamarajapuram in Madurai on suspicion of their involvement in the crime. Four knives believed to have been used for the killing, and two sovereigns were seized from the suspects. Another suspect is in jail in connection with a different case. Hunt for the remaining three suspects is on.
On the day of the killing on September 2, 2015, Yesudas and Pradeep, the two sons of Suriya Prabha reached their home on St Xavier Lane in Old Keel Madurai Station Road in Keerathurai. It was the routine of the five-member family to have lunch together at their house.
The two men found the house locked from outside. A short while later Pradeep's wife Sahana reached the house. With the spare key she had, the trio entered the house. Believing that Suriya Prabha must have gone out for an errand, the trio proceeded to have lunch on the ground floor of their two-storey house. They were soon joined by Suriya Prabha's husband Rajaram.
It was only when Yesudas went upstairs to use the bathroom that he found Suriya Prabha lying in a pool of blood. However, Yesudas, who was suffering from a mental illness, was unable to understand that his mother was dead. Coming back downstairs, he told his father and brother that he found his mother asleep upstairs. Sensing something amiss, they went upstairs only to find her dead. The family members at that time told police that the woman, owing to her knee problem, never went upstairs and would never open the door for strangers. It is believed that she might have opened the door to the suspects as she might have seen them in the locality before.