Two more arrested in Kerala’s snake bite murder case
Three months after the mysterious snake-bite murder of Uthra S (25) in south Kerala’s Kollam district, the special investigation team (SIT) on Saturday arrested her mother-in-law and sister-in-law on charges of destroying evidence and domestic violence.
Earlier two people, including the deceased’s husband P Sooraj and a local snake handler, were arrested for letting a cobra loose in Uthra’s room on May 6 night, which led to her death a day later. Shockingly, the fatal bite occurred when Uthra was undergoing treatment for the first bite by a viper at her husband’s home two months ago. Later, the father-in-law was also arrested.
The chilling murder was allegedly executed by Sooraj with much precision and training but his design fell flat after Uthra’s father approached the police suspecting foul play in his daughter’s death. The sordid tale came out during the investigation and shocked the southern state. Sooraj later admitted that he gave sleeping pills to Uthra before letting the snake loose and provoking it to bite her twice. During one of the evidence collection trips he publicly admitted that he committed the heinous crime and never thought he will be caught.
The SIT said in the murder case Sooraj will be the lone accused and another case was registered for domestic violence and destroying evidence-- besides him, his mother, father and sister are accused in the second case. The snake handler who gave him the snake on both the occasions will be made an approver, it said.
Her parents had alleged that the in-laws were also a party to the crime and there were many attempts earlier also. “We are very particular about the murder case so we collected enough scientific evidence to corroborate the crime. There is no delay in latest arrests. We arrested the mother and sister after collecting evidence,” said S Harishankar, Kollam rural superintendent of police (SP), who supervised the probe.
The case surfaced after Uthra’s parents filed a complaint a week after her death. They alleged that Sooraj and his family members often harassed her for dowry and many of her ornaments were missing. The couple had got married two years ago and has a one-year-old son. Her father said that he had gifted over 100 sovereigns of gold and a new car to appease her demanding in-laws.
During the probe Sooraj reportedly told the SIT that he had bought a cobra from a snake handler for Rs 10,000. On May 6, he took the snake to Uthra’s paternal house in Anchal, where she was undergoing treatment since the first snake bite two months ago.
The police said after Uthra fell asleep, Sooraj allegedly took out the snake from the bottle and threw it on her. He kept awake all night to ensure that he could escape unscathed. He left the room in the morning and started reading a newspaper in the verandah. Soon, Uthra’s mother found her daughter lying unconscious in the bed. She was rushed to a hospital, where doctors said she died of a snake bite.
Later, when the room was examined, the family members found a cobra, which was killed by Sooraj. The couple slept in an air-conditioned room and it was difficult to believe that he did not notice the snake before, the woman’s parents alleged in the police complaint.
The SIT had later conducted a post-mortem on the carcass of the black cobra which bit the deceased in a bid to collect scientific evidence. Veterinary surgeons who conducted the post-mortem later said after examining the fangs of the cobra they found that it bit the victim twice. The 80-cm long cobra was capable enough of killing a human being, they said. Later a DNA test was also done on the carcass.
The SIT had filed the charge sheet last week in the Punalur magistrate’s court. The charge sheet said it was a well-planned and executed murder to secure her family property and the husband had tried his best to make it appear like a natural death. He thought of making his son a bargaining chip and later would marry another woman, it said.