Writers' Retreat

A lie is only the beginning

Based on true events and the charge sheets filed.

A story of a woman, a woman who was widely regarded as a God-fearing mother and jovial person, but yet turns out to be a serial killer that sends shivers down your spine.  An intriguing story of 6 lives lost over a span of 14 years.

Koodathayil, a small town in the district of Kozhikode, along the northern Malabar Coast of Kerala is where the entire story unfolds. Ponamattam House’s daughter-in-law Jolly Joseph is the protagonist; this simple pious woman had an overnight change to her image on October 19th, 2019, when she became the devil herself, a sex maniac, and even a smiling psychopath. This story consists of lies, deceits, joy, murder, ambition, cyanides, and even a suicide attempt.


The story starts when Jolly and Roy meet each other for the first time at a common relative’s wedding and fell in love. In between the following events, a respectable and well-known teacher (Roy’s mother) asks for her educational qualifications to which she replies with a lie that takes away 6 different lives over a span of 14 years. The lie of her having a Master’s degree when in reality she was just a 12th pass. Whether it was a planned one or just a spur of the moment lie is something we will never know.

The marriage took place in 1997 and they were doing pretty well while also conceiving a son in 1999. It wasn’t up until 2000 when Annamma (Roy’s mother) the keeper of the house asked Jolly to find a job to have a stable income as she was retiring as well.  Jolly kept giving excuses until the point of it not being possible anymore due to which she made a copy of someone else’s marks sheet and started proudly proclaiming it to be hers. Jolly then told Annamma and everyone that she wanted to be a teacher like Annamma and that there is a 10-month course before that. Annamma agrees and Jolly starts going out every day as part of the course.

By the end of 10 months, Annamma asks again, but Jolly was ready this time and told that she had got a part time job but that she wants a better job for which she needs to improve her scores. But obviously, that couldn’t go on for a long time and Jolly was certain that there came only one way to get out of the loop and that was to put a full stop to Annamma’s storyline. Although Annamma was a role model for Jolly and everyone around the neighborhood, this couldn’t stop the inevitable. Jolly tried poisoning Annamma twice with whatever she could find because of which Annamma was just hospitalized but nothing fatal happened. She then bought a dog poison using a fake name and prescription, which she tested on her dog and succeeded. Finally, the night before Onam 2002, Jolly decides to mix the poison in Annamma’s favorite mutton soup that she left open overnight so that it does not smell or taste different.

On the festive day of Onam as the daily helpers were on leave, Jolly served her mother-in-law the mutton soup and talked to her for a while, prolonging the conversation, and waited for her to fall and collapse. Jolly wakes everyone up and shouts cardiac arrest then takes Annamma to the hospital but her fate was sealed.

Jolly had a complete transformation in her behavior after Annamma passed away turning herself into the new Annamma of the Ponnamattam House. She also tells that she landed a new job in the National Institute of Technology (NIT) as a professor, which pretense she continued for the next 16 years. With Annamma out of the picture, Jolly could have redeemed herself but she had a path that she made herself out of greed, obsession, and ambition.

On 26th August 2008, evening time at the Ponnamattam house was as usual with some nearby teachers over to receive help from Tom Thomas (Jolly’s father-in-law).  Once they left, Tom started crunching his chest calling for Jolly’s help. Jolly immediately informed her husband and ran outside to inform the neighbors that Tom had suffered a heart attack. Tom’s fate was also sealed the same way as that of Annamma’s but nobody suspected anything as Jolly was the anchor of the house and it was almost impossible to suspect her. This was accomplished only to reinstate a “forged will” made by Jolly excluding everyone in the family and including just her and her husband as the rightful owner of the properties left behind. The will was produced almost immediately after Tom’s death. Rojo and Renji (son and daughter of Tom) felt it was rather odd and so Rojo questioned it but the relatives shut him off.

But why would Jolly kill Tom when Tom was a puppet to Jolly because of how she handled everything, this is only because of the fact that Tom disagreed giving the Ponnamattom House to her as his logic was that he had given most of his properties to Jolly and Roy and thus what’s remaining must go to Renji and Rojo. This was the first time that Jolly received a denial and so through her newly met acquaintances, she made a forged will naming her the owner signed by Tom. She realized that the forged document would serve no purpose unless and until Tom was eliminated. Thus arranging cyanide through M.S Mathew a relative of Roy (Roy and Mathew drank evenings together). In the morning of 26th August, she fills Tom’s mushroom capsules with cyanide and leaves for work, later in the evening she reminds Tom to take the mushroom capsules which he listens to, and within moments he collapses on the floor while Jolly announces to everyone that he had a cardiac arrest. Toms was the beginning in the use of cyanide while Annamma was the only one not to become a victim of cyanide.

When power was the reason behind Annamma’s death, wealth was behind Tom Thomas, and then came the need for freedom in lifestyle whose victim was Roy Thomas (Jolly’s Husband) in 2011. After Tom’s death, Roy and Jolly were drifting apart especially with her contacts increasing while also her questionable relations with others like especially M. S Mathew, the second accused and the one who arranged cyanide for Jolly. Roy wasn’t satisfied with it and sought refuge in alcohol which was provided by M.S Mathew and thus any job henceforth wouldn’t be difficult. Friday the 13th September 2011 was the fatal night when Jolly after sending the kids early to bed after dinner, went downstairs to the kitchen and removes a jar from the top shelf written coffee powder, and takes an inhaler from it. She opens the inhaler and takes the small pack of cyanide from it and mixes it with the curry that’s kept on the dinner table for Roy with even mixing it in the glass of water next to it just in case Roy decides not to eat. She goes back to the children’s bedroom and lies next to them eagerly waiting for any noise to pop up from downstairs.

Roy comes in and after 10 minutes of silence, she anxiously goes downstairs to see what is happening and sees half-eaten food with the glass empty and Roy in the toilet. The moment the vomit sound began, she too began to clean the entire place to cover up evidence. Finally when everything became silent and after taking one final glance around she runs to the landline calling the neighbors who rushed in to help. Roy was on the ground frothing in blood and once they broke open the door; they rushed him to the hospital. But yes, too late again and Jolly from experience proclaimed again that it is a heart attack but only this time unlike usual there was one objection and request for an autopsy that came in from Annamma’s brother (Roy’s uncle, Mathew Manjayadil).


She perfectly planned and executed her mission and ensured that the relatives, friends, and neighbors rooted for her in her battle with Mathew Manjayadil. He was her neighbor as well and so he was always the first to know about each of her victims, and therefore he asked for an autopsy of Roy. Although Jolly rejected Mathew, he went on to ask Roy’s brother Rojo in Florida who approved and cyanide poisoning was revealed. Mathew being deeply disturbed by the findings but also being in the middle of a widow’s cry and plea succumbed to keep the family honor and thus a suicide again. Mathew couldn’t comprehend the possibility of a suicide even months after Roy’s death which led to frequent questioning to Jolly and finally cornering her. But when Rojo filed a case against Jolly on property disputes, it was Mathew who felt the pain the most as he didn’t want a bitter end to the story. Jolly knew this and made sure that she took advantage of it and she confronted Mathew with the issue, and Mathew becomes the mediator to solve the issue out of court. Jolly utilized the advantage of being able to meet anytime.

According to the charge sheet, Mathew and Jolly used to drink alcohol together as Mathew used to get cheap alcohol being a retired military officer. Jolly’s statement states Mathew coming over to Jolly’s house the day before he died with two bottles of liquor and that they had a couple of drinks. But Mathew left her place without taking the bottle back. There was a wedding the following day for which the entire family was supposed to go but Jolly knowing Mathew figured that he would give some excuse to avoid the wedding such that of a health issue which would, in turn, benefit herself eventually. She excluded herself also from the marriage and went over to Mathew Manjayadil’s house-entering from her usual back door with some cyanide-induced liquor. She cooked him a meal and poured a glass of liquor from the bottle he had left at her place the previous night. She also left a glass of water laced with some cyanide to account for the probability of avoiding food and just having water. Doubts aroused again and the same cycle repeated. Cardiac arrest was yet again told to be the reason, although statements from Mathew’s wife were different from the confessions that Jolly stated in the charge sheet. So, we can’t really tell what happened but instead spread it out as a story based on the charge sheet.

After power, wealth, freedom in lifestyle, preempting any possible dissent from within the family comes the need for marriage with it not even being 3 months after Mathew’s death.

The character that enters next in the story is Shaju (Roy’s 1st cousin) who eventually marries Jolly but the martyrs for the marriage are his 2-year-old daughter and his then-wife Sily. On the day of Shaju’s eldest son’s first Holy Communion, Alfine the 2-year-old daughter of Shaju was being taken care of by Jolly and so the events followed. According to Jolly, she knew completely that she would be in charge of Alfine and so in between the crowd and celebration, Jolly reminds Sily that she hadn’t fed Alfine all morning; as expected Sily asks Jolly herself to feed, and Jolly pours the mutton stew onto the plate with bread while slowly taking a packet of white powder from the bag and mixing it with the curry. A kid who saw it presumed it to be butter; well one couldn’t possibly imagine it to be cyanide. Jolly then smartly instead of feeding Alfine herself, passed on the chore to Alfine’s aunt.

Unaware of the scenario happening, the aunt feeds Alfine, who takes a mouthful and runs around just for the next one to follow. Alfine starts coughing and resisting food but the family just assumed it as child’s play to avoid eating and thus force-fed even more. Frothing from the mouth started with emotions jumping all over the place and people immediately rushed her to the hospital, but unlike the past scenarios where Jolly announced the incidents to the world, she stood behind and made sure Shaju and Sily took on the role. Few hospitals turned down and ultimately Alfine succumbed to cyanide. Doctors did ask to take an autopsy but Shaju denied it, a decision he regrets till today according to him.


Shaju was a silent person and in view of the property angle, he is a family insider, which makes him the perfect candidate to marry Jolly, especially since Jolly couldn’t entertain her new acquaintances properly without a man in the house. Shaju’s eldest son was of the same age as Jolly’s son and was close to him.  This probably kept him safe while Alfine and Sily were to become victims.

Sily and Jolly became inseparable after Alfine’s death as Jolly had become her confidant and helped her bear the pain of the loss of her child.          

On 11th January 2016, after a marriage function, Shaju takes an appointment at a dentist clinic for which Jolly accompanies him and Sily. Once Shaju was with the dentist, he heard a scream from his son and he ran outside only to see Sily lying on Jolly’s lap having a sort of seizure/fits representing the same symptoms Alfine had portrayed. Jolly hurries and takes the car to the hospital using a longer route and finally the same old story repeats. Too late!

But how did she accomplish it in the dental office, the police say that she had become an expert by then making it possible for her to take the powder with all precautions and to mix it without anyone noticing. It was Jolly who cried the most but what shocked everyone was when Jolly joined Shaju to kiss his dead wife goodbye. Raising an eyebrow to questions but Shaju denies all the claims stating it was all a deliberate attempt by Jolly. Jolly raised the question for marriage right after 2 months of Sily’s death to which Shaju denied it telling he will need at least one year after Sily’s death and so it happened. Although Shaju admits that the marriage wasn’t one of love but more of an arrangement for the kids.

 2019, the year in which everything unfolded as Rojo and Renji continued suspecting their father’s will and the deaths that followed. Rojo along with his friend who also suspected foul play in the way it all happened decided to file a complaint under Right to Information. Roy’s autopsy came again with cyanide but what was surprising is that there was undigested food as well whereas Rojo clearly remembered how Jolly went about telling everyone and crying how Roy couldn’t even eat his favorite meal one last time. There the contradiction and the catching up of Jolly’s lie led to the completion of the investigation. Police even exhumed the bodies to figure out the pattern. Meanwhile Jolly tried to get the case withdrawn and even tried striking up a deal with Rojo offering the properties in his name if the case was withdrawn. Jolly knew her time was up and the night before the arrest, her eldest son confronted her and she broke down completely confessing everything that happened while seeking his forgiveness. The next day, 5th October 2019 Jolly was arrested. She even tried suicide in jail by biting her wrists off, the attempt wasn’t successful, but her case is still going on.

Manavi Kapur

Manavi is a fun-loving, tech-savvy, lady of the media and you better believe us when we tell you that she can sing! Needless to say, she has done all that with aplomb because some of her articles are highly cited in this niche.

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