Bandit queen Phoolan Devi is in no competition for Jolly Joseph—accused of poisoning six members of her family—as she was a brigand leader who got her underlings to do the act. There may also be instances of murders committed in rage, in response to long years of suppression or in retaliation, but none like the cold-blooded murders this ostensibly pious woman committed to satiate her lust for wealth.
In what has come to be known as the Koodathai murders, Jolly Joseph of this Kozhikode suburb killed six members of her family over a period of 14 years in cold blood. Her modus operandi was to give her victims cyanide-laden food, which caused almost instant death. It turns out that she carried a small bottle of the deadly substance in her handbag so that she could strike at will.
Jolly Joseph was the ultimate bundle of contradictions. She had a pleasing disposition outwardly, was a regular at the church. For over a decade, she went about pretending to be a member of the faculty at the National Institute of Technology (NIT), undetected, which raised her standing in the neighbourhood. Every day she would leave home without fail, but spent her time in a beauty parlour, for 14 long years.