A serial killer who allegedly murdered as many as 10 people in a span of just 20 months by giving them cyanide-laced ‘prasadam’ has been arrested by the Andhra Pradesh police. The 38-year-old man not only laced the victims’ food with cyanide but also decamped with their cash and valuables. According to police, the man is believed to have planned the killing of at least 10 more people.
Busting the case, West Godavari Superintendent of Police Navadeep Singh Grewal announced the arrest at Eluru on Tuesday evening. Police said that Vellanki Simhadri alias Siva of Venkatapuram village had committed these serial murders in the districts of Krishna, East Godavari and West Godavari in a pre-planned manner between February 2018 to October 2019. Police have also recovered Rs 1.6 lakh in cash and 26 gold coins from him. He was finally caught after he was seen on CCTV footage with one of the victims.
The police investigation revealed that after a failed real estate business, Simhadri started cheating with claims of possessing supernatural powers. He used to con people in the name of hidden treasure and precious stones and would promise to double their gold. The accused collected money and gold from his victims with a promise to give them "rice-pulling coins", which is believed to bring prosperity. After taking token money, he used to give them cyanide-laced ‘prasadam’.
Among Vellanki Simhadri’s victims are his own grandmother and sister-in-law. The last of his victims in West Godavari district died as recently as 20 days ago. The victim, K Nagaraju (49) left home to deposit cash and jewellery in a bank but hours later his body was recovered but without money and valuables. The man’s sudden death with no mark of injury on his body gave an impression as if he died either from brain stroke or heart failure. Even the post mortem report did not reveal cyanide poisoning, Grewal said.
Simhadri killed all his victims using the same modus operandi as Jolly Joseph of Kerala. But Simhadri’s case may turn out to be more sinister than ‘Cyanide Jolly’. Jolly has confessed of killing six family members over the years and her chosen method of killing was lacing the last supper of her victims with cyanide. The police are still probing her case.