Netflix’s latest true-crime documentary, Curry & Cyanide: The Jolly Joseph Case, directed by Christo Tomy, has sent shockwaves through audiences with its harrowing exploration of the Koodathayi Cyanide murders case.
Released late last December, the series delves into the disturbing events that unfolded in Koodathayi, a village in Kerala, India, between 2002 and 2016, where Jolly Joseph was accused of poisoning six family members.
As viewers grapple with the shocking revelations presented in Curry & Cyanide: The Jolly Joseph Case, the documentary serves as a stark reminder of the thin line between trust and betrayal in seemingly close-knit communities that India prides itself on. The shocking incident has already spurred fictional retellings. In 2020, journalist Sashi Kumar also released a ten-part podcast, Death, Lies & Cyanide, on Spotify.
Here are the top five most shocking revelations made in Curry & Cyanide: The Jolly Joseph Case.
Who was Jolly Joseph?
Described as “jovial, friendly, jolly, and pious,” Jolly Joseph concealed a dark side that would later be exposed in the chilling Koodathayi Cyanide killings.
Joseph is originally from Kattappana, Idukki district in Kerala. Before marrying into the Thomas family, Joseph was a first-year college dropout. Born into a farming family, she wanted to escape the toil of agricultural life. Presenting herself as a qualified professional, Jolly allegedly forged her educational credentials, confirmed by police investigations. She claimed to hold an M.Com. degree and lied about working as a lecturer at the prestigious National Institute of Technology Calicut.
How did Jolly Joseph get the cyanide?
Jolly Joseph’s affinity for jewellery led her into a friendship, which later turned into a romantic relationship with her husband’s cousin, M.S. Mathew, who worked at a jewellery store. Mathew’s association with a jewellery store became crucial in the case, as it was the source of the cyanide, a highly controlled substance used in the murders. Jolly’s arrest implicated Mathew for aiding her in obtaining the deadly poison.
Mathew obtained the cyanide from his friend Praji Kumar. However, both claim that they believed Joseph wanted the poison for killing a rat in the house.
Why did Jolly Joseph kill her mother-in-law?
Jolly’s first alleged victim was her mother-in-law, Annamma Thomas, who opposed Jolly’s reluctance to work and contribute to the household financially despite having an apparent degree. Annamma’s death went unsuspected because she was old. There was no post-mortem done as it was believed a heart attack caused her death.
Joseph’s subsequent victims included her father-in-law, Tom Thomas, who disapproved of her growing intimacy with Mathew. Jolly’s later victims included her husband Roy, her sister-in-law Sily Shaju, her niece Alphine Shaju, and Roy’s maternal uncle Mathew Manjayadil.
What was Jolly Joseph’s motive?
Jolly Joseph’s motive for the alleged murders was rooted in her quest for money and freedom. To secure the family property and marry her lover, M. S. Mathew, Joseph resorted to poisoning six family members over 14 years.
But her deception started much earlier. Jolly and her husband, Roy Thomas, allegedly forged Tom Thomas’s will, aiming to claim the family property. The plan unravelled when the forged will didn’t have all the essential signatures and stamps.
How did Jolly Joseph get caught?
Jolly Joseph was exposed when her sister-in-law, Renji Thomas, grew suspicious of the series of deaths in their family. Renji reported her concerns to the police, triggering an investigation. Roy Thomas’s death, initially ruled as suicide, raised suspicions when a post-mortem revealed cyanide poisoning.
Upon scrutinising the post-mortem reports, Renji discovered inconsistencies in Joseph’s statements, ultimately leading to her arrest in October 2019 for the alleged cyanide killings. After her arrest, Joseph confessed to killing the six people in her family.
You can watch the true crime documentary Curry & Cyanide: The Jolly Joseph Case on Netflix.