Police said Vellanki Simhadri of Venkatapuram village had committed these serial murders in the districts of Krishna, East Godavari and West Godavari in cold blood between February 2018 to October 2019.
Andhra Pradesh police on Tuesday arrested a 38-yr old man who allegedly killed 10 people including three women across three district in a span of 20 months by poisoning them with cyanide and decamped with their cash and valuables.
At a press conference in Eluru, West Godavari superintendent of police Navdeep Singh Grewal said Vellanki Simhadri of Venkatapuram village had committed these serial murders in the districts of Krishna, East Godavari and West Godavari in a pre-planned manner between February 2018 to October 2019.
The police also arrested Sheik Ameenullah Babu alias Babu from Vijayawada, who had allegedly supplied cyanide to Simhadri for committing the murders.
Grewal said the gruesome murders committed by Simhadri came to light during an investigation into the alleged murder of one Kati Nagaraju (49), a physical education teacher of a government school from Eluru town on October 16.
“Nagaraju had left home with cash of Rs 2 lakh, besides 50 grams of gold, telling his wife that he had some bank work. When he did not return till the next morning, his family members lodged a complaint with the police. Later, Nagaraju’s body was found near a polytechnic college,” the SP said.
Subsequent investigations based on Nagaraju’s mobile call data and CCTV footage on the route where he had travelled revealed that he had contacted Simhadri. “We arrested Simhadri on Tuesday morning and during interrogation, he confessed committing 10 murders, including that of Nagaraju,” Grewal said.
Apart from Nagaraju, the others who fell victim to Simhadri were: Vallabhaneni Uma Maheswara Rao of Nuzividu, Pulapa Tavitaiah of Marribandam village, Gandikota Bhaskara Rao of Vijayawada, Sri Ramakrishnanda of Purushotapatnam ashram, Chodarapu Suryanarayana, Kothapalli Raghavamma, Samantakurthi Nagamani and Ramulamma (all from Eluru), besides another person whose name is not known.
Explaining the modus operandi of the accused, the Grewal said Simhadri would lure the victims by promising to double their cash and valuables using magic stones. “After convincing them to bring their cash and valuables, Simhadri took them to isolated places where he performed certain rituals. He also used to make them believe that he had knowledge of hidden treasures in the forests,” he said.
After performing the ritual, Simhadri would give them “prasadam” (holy offering) mixed with cyanide, saying it had ayurvedic medicine. After ensuring that the victims died within minutes, he used to decamp with their ornaments and cash.
Grewal said Simhadri used to repeat the offence at regular intervals at different places and take enough precautions to avoid being caught. “Since there were no visible injuries on the victims, the relatives also did not suspect any foul play by anybody. Moreover, Simhadri used to take a long gap between two murders and choose different places, nobody suspected him,” the police official said.
He said Simhadri had procured cyanide in small quantities from Syed Amenullah Babu at a very high price. “Babu’s brother Asad had an electro-nickel plate unit for which he used to purchase cyanide and other material from a licenced shop in Chennai. Whenever Babu went to Chennai along with his brother, he used to buy small quantities of cyanide from the same shop and sell it to Simhadri at high price,” the SP said.
“In all, he had robbed the victims of Rs 24.60 lakh in cash and 35.25 tolas of gold. The police recovered Rs 1.63 lakh cash and a little quantity of gold from Simhadri,” the Grewal said.