The police in Andhra Pradesh's Eluru town is seeking the custody of the man accused of killing 10 persons with cyanide laced prasadam (religious food offering) during the last 20 months.
West Godavari Superintendent of Police Navdeep Singh Grawel told IANS on Wednesday (6 November) that they have applied for police remand of Vellanki Simhadri, alias Siva, for further interrogation.
The police hope to gather more evidence of the shocking case during the questioning of the accused.
The horror came to light on Tuesday after the police announced the arrest of 38-year-old Siva, who used the same modus operandi to commit the crime as was used by Kerala's Jolly Joseph, the woman who was recently arrested for killing six relatives over 14 years using cyanide.
Claiming to be a fortune teller and with supernatural powers, Siva killed 10 persons and robbed them of cash, gold, and other valuables. Three of his victims were women, including his grandmother and sister-in-law.
According to the SP, Siva trapped his victims by promising to arrange 'rice pulling coins' which is believed to bring prosperity. He tricked them in paying token money for purchasing 'rice pulling coins', took them to an isolated place and gave them prasadam laced with cyanide. After the death of the victims, he used to escape with cash, gold, and other valuables.
"He trapped some persons by convincing them that he will double their money by performing pooja and then gave them prasadam laced with cyanide. To some persons, he administered the cyanide as Ayurvedic medicine," the police officer said.
Siva committed these murders in three districts -- West Godavari, East Godavari, and Krishna. Investigators said that he could not be caught earlier as the victims died immediately after consuming cyanide and there were no injuries on the bodies. The families of the victims believed their death to be natural.
The serial killer was finally arrested during investigation into the death of one Kati Nagaraju, a teacher at a school in Eluru town. Nagaraju had left home on 16 October with Rs 2 lakh cash and gold jewellery, but was later found dead by the roadside.
After scanning the CCTV footage of the area where the body was found, the police found a man talking to Nagaraju. The suspect was identified as Simhadri alias Siva and during interrogation, he not only confessed to the crime, but also made shocking revelations about killing nine other persons.
Siva started playing conman to make easy money after suffering losses in real estate business. He was fooling his victims in the name of 'hidden treasure' and even promised to double their gold, the police said.
Siva robbed his victims of Rs 24.60 lakh and gold ornaments worth 35.25 sovereigns.
Sheik Ameenullah Babu, who supplied cyanide to the killer, has also been arrested and remanded to judicial custody.
Babu's younger brother Asad has an electro nickel plate unit for nickel coating/polishing of motorcycle spare parts, and they were using cyanide, among other items.
Babu, who used to accompany his younger brother to Chennai for purchasing these items, bought cyanide without the knowledge of Asad and later supplied it to Siva for huge money.
(This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.)