It was a CCTV footage from Kerala's Pattanamthitta that provided the first clue to the police in the "human sacrifice" case. The footage was of Padma, one of the two victims of the horrific crime that has shocked the country. The footage showed her climbing into a white Scorpio and later crossing a street. The man who accompanied her was Muhammad Shafi, who, the police said, was the driving force behind the murders. The location of Padma's cellphone had led the police to Shafi, who had roped in massage therapist Bhagaval Singh and his wife Laila to help him, promising them riches after the ritual killings.
The police said the footage was from September 26, the day Padma went missing. CCTV trail from roadside cameras led them to the Singhs' house in Pattanamthitta. On October 9, the police came upon CCTV footage from the house of their immediate neighbour, Jose Thomas. It showed the parked Scorpio and Padma walking into the house.
Kochi police commissioner C Nagaraju told NDTV that they were investigating the case of Padma and "stumbled upon two murders".
Under police questioning, the Singhs confessed to the murder of Padma and Roselin, who had been missing since June, the police said.
The police found the chopped remains in pits around the house.
Padma, the police said, was tortured with a knife and strangled. Her throat was slit and the body hacked into 56 pieces and buried. Roslin too, was knifed in her private parts and killed.
Shafi had tortured and murdered Padma, the police said. Laila Singh had killed Rosalin, inserting a knife in her private parts and then slitting her throat. Bhagaval Singh had chopped off her breasts. The police said they are investigating the possibility of cannibalism.
The police are also investigating if Shafi is a serial killer and there have been other victims. He is a psychopath and a pervert who delights in cruelty, the police said.
In 2020, Shafi was accused of raping a 75-year-old woman, who sustained injuries similar to Padma and Rosalin, but survived, the police said.
Shafi and the Singhs have been accused of criminal conspiracy, abduction, murder and destruction of evidence. They have been sent to judicial custody for two weeks.