Police on Thursday said they have not ruled out that a serial killer could be on the prowl as four of the 10 mysterious deaths in Goa in the past 72 hours are suspected to be murders.
Superintendent of Police Atmaram Deshpande said the deaths of four women, three of whom were found in a partially charred condition, pointed to murder.
"In another instance an unidentified couple had drowned in the Pernem region of north Goa Oct 12. It is circumstantially evident that they were a couple because the deceased woman's saree was tied to a loop in the denim pant worn by the middle-aged man.
"The second unfortunate incident prima facie involves a couple and their two minor children who could have drowned in the Rua de Ourem creek in the city. So the possibility of murder exists in four cases involving women," Deshpande said.
He added the police had registered three murder cases and a fourth could be booked in the near future.
"Three post-mortem reports have been conducted where murder is suspected. In two instances the cause of death is strangulation and the third has been identified as 'death by smothering'," Deshpande said, adding that the police were exploring all angles to the murders.
"It could be a serial killer or someone with a deranged mentality, or these could be murders either for gain or crimes of passion. These are not run of the mill or routine incidents," the official said.
The four bodies were found Oct 12 and 13, all within a 30 km radius from Panaji.
In three cases, obvious attempts were made by the culprits to conceal the identity of the victim by attempting to burn the corpse. In one instance, a stone was used to bludgeon the face of the victim.
The police have identified only two of the victims in the four suspected murders, one of whom is a minor who lived on the outskirts of the capital.
The spate of murders and unnatural deaths and callous comments by police officials on issues related to the safety of women in the state has caught the national media's attention.
The latest murders in Goa, a tourist haven, follow the gruesome murder of British teenager Scarlett Keeling and the mysterious and unsolved death of Russian teenager Elena Sukhonova.