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Indian woman accused of killing several members of her family to gain an estate and

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An Indian woman has been accused of being a serial killer after several close relatives suffered fatal heart attacks.

Joliyamma Joseph, who, for years, talked about how her house was cursed, is accused of poisoning the family members and covering up her crimes with lies that have begun to unravel.

The 47-year-old mother-of-two is called Jolly for short.

She lived in a pastel-pink three-story house in Koodathai, a small town of just 12,000 in the Kozhikode district of Kerala state in southern India, and seemed every bit the upstanding citizen, neighbors said.

Every day, she left home, telling people she was going to her job as a professor at the prestigious National Institute of Technology Calicut (NIT) university about a half-hour away, according to police.

She wore a neat saree, and in her spare time regularly went to church and helped her neighbors when they were sick.

“Jolly seemed like a perfect woman to us,” said 30-year-old Saidu NK, who lived next door to Joseph for over 20 years and who, like other South Indians, uses an abbreviation of his family names as his last name.

“We never had a shadow of doubt on Jolly until the very recent turn of events,” said another neighbor whose name CNN agreed not to publish as she was afraid of repercussions from fellow residents for speaking out on the case, which is highly sensitive in Koodathai.

A pastel pink house with a dark secret

When Joseph moved into the area, she seemed friendly and kind, her neighbors said.

It was 1997, and Joseph had just married Roy Thomas, the unemployed son of a popular local couple, neighbours said.

She moved into Thomas’s family home, a spacious property with an iron fence that stood out from the tangle of lush jungle around Koodathai.

Jolly Joseph.

“Jolly was very loving,” said the neighbour who CNN agreed not to name. “She would be here if we needed anything or if someone fell ill.”

In the predominantly Muslim town, Joseph and her husband’s family were some of the few Christians, according to 37-year-old Mohammed Bava, who lived next door and attended Roy Thomas and Joseph’s wedding. She was a regular churchgoer, Bava said.

The couple had been married for five years when tragedy struck.

In 2002, Roy Thomas’s 57-year-old mother Annamma Thomas died in circumstances that weren’t explained, but because she had health issues, her death wasn’t considered suspicious and there was no post mortem.

In India, post mortems are only required if the death is unnatural or suspicious.

They can be requested by the deceased person’s family, but some Indians are reluctant to do so because of a cultural belief that autopsies are a desecration of the body.

After Annamma Thomas’s death, the mood changed, said Bava.

Mohammed Bava.

“There was no happiness in the house like how there used to be when (Annamma Thomas) was alive,” said Bava.

In 2008, Roy Thomas’s 66-year-old father Tom Thomas fell ill and was found lying flat on his back, foaming at the mouth.

Bava took him to hospital where doctors declared him dead from a heart attack.

According to Bava, Roy Thomas and Joseph inherited the property in Tom Thomas’s will. Police investigations found that by the time of the elder Thomas’s death, all his assets had been transferred to Joseph.

More deaths

Three years later, 40-year-old Roy Thomas was dead, too. He was also found foaming from the mouth.

This time, Roy Thomas’s uncle Mathew Manjadiyil insisted that Joseph’s husband needed a post mortem and took him to the hospital.

The post mortem found that Roy Thomas had died after consuming cyanide, a chemical commonly used in mining and jewelry-making which can be fatal in high doses.

But police ruled it a suicide and didn’t investigate further, according to Bava.


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‘Jolly seemed like a perfect woman.’

After that, Joseph grew more distant from the community, neighbors said.

“She wasn’t that friendly or close to local people, but we didn’t really mind it as we knew that she was a woman and a widow, too,” said Biju Mon, who used to drive Joseph and Roy Thomas’s eldest son to school.

More deaths followed. In 2014, Roy Thomas’s 67-year-old uncle Manjadiyil died in Joseph’s presence – another heart attack, Joseph said, according to Bava.

That same year, Alphine, the two-year-old daughter of Roy Thomas’s cousin Shaju Sakhariyas, died after allegedly choking on food at a christening ceremony. Then, in 2016, Sakhariyas’s 43-year-old wife Sili died, too.

In 2017, a year after Sili Sakhariyas’s death, Joseph remarried. Her new husband was Sili Sakhariyas’s widower, Shaju Sakhariyas.

Brewing suspicions

By the time she remarried, people close to Joseph had begun to suspect something was wrong.

Bava and Roy Thomas’s brother Rojo Thomas began to take a closer look at the Joseph, Tom Thomas’ will and the deaths.

Rojo Thomas told Bava that, in the course of his investigations, he found Joseph didn’t really work at NIT as she had claimed.

“The whole family attacked him. They were not ready to believe Rojo,” said Bava. “Such was the clout and image that Jolly had in the family – they all thought that Rojo Thomas was saying this because he had an eye on the house and property.”

By 2017, Bava had doubts, too.

The men also found discrepancies in the port mortem examinations. CNN has not been able to independently confirm the contents of the post mortem.

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Rojo’s sister Ranji Thomas joined their investigations and in each case, they found a common link: Joseph had been present.

Earlier this year, the trio complained to police, who eventually agreed there was a potential criminal case.

The unraveling of Jolly

Police said they began to investigate in August, and they soon found holes in Joseph’s stories, too.

Like Rojo Thomas, police discovered Joseph wasn’t really a professor at the NIT university as she had claimed.

Altogether, authorities said they found about 50 discrepancies between her statements to police and other evidence.

As there had been no post mortem done after any of the deaths besides Roy Thomas’s, police ordered the bodies to be exhumed and tested.

After two months of analysing the evidence, Indian police were ready to go public. At an October 5 press conference crammed with Indian press, Kozhikhode district police superintendent KG Simon announced a major development.

Joseph had confessed to murdering all six family members, Simon said, adding that she had poisoned them with cyanide to gain control over the family’s assets – and then marry the man she had her eye on.

Police said Joseph poisoned her in-laws to get hold of the house – and as her marriage to Roy Thomas worsened, Joseph killed him too.

She then allegedly killed her husband’s uncle Manjadiyil – who had been most adamant that Roy Thomas needed to have a post mortem – by mixing poison into an alcoholic drink, police documents show.

She allegedly killed Sili Sakhariyas and her daughter Alphine by poisoning their water and food, respectively, to get closer to Shaju Sakhariyas.

“Jolly told many people she wished for a husband like Shaju,” Simon said.

According to police documents, Joseph has been arrested for the alleged murder of Manjadiyil, Alphine and her father-in-law, Tom Thomas.

She hasn’t yet been charged but remains behind bars as police investigations continue.

Under Indian law, suspects of serious crimes such as murder can be held for up to 90 days as part of the investigation process.

Police say she’s confessed to the crimes, but her lawyer, K Haider, says if she’s charged with murder, she plans to plead not guilty.

If Joseph is charged and convicted, she could face life in prison – or even death.

India’s Supreme Court on Saturday awarded a bitterly contested religious site to Hindus, dealing a defeat to Muslims who also claim the land that has sparked some of the country’s bloodiest riots since independence.

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Girl, 5, was left unrecognisable after being set on fire by a candle and left in a coma for a month

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These are the harrowing images of a five-year-old girl who was set on fire by a candle and left with third degree burns across her body. 

Gianna Wrightman’s t-shirt was set alight as she played with a scented candle in her grandparents’ home in Algonac, Michigan.

Her panicked grandmother scrambled to put the fire out and call an ambulance, which rushed the youngster to A&E at a children’s hospital in Detroit.

When her mother Rebeka, 27, next saw her little girl she was ‘unrecognisable’ and wrapped head-to-toe in bandages.

The youngster was kept in a medically induced coma for a month as medics scrambled to salvage her skin. 

Gianna Wrightman was just five-years-old when her t-shirt was set alight by a scented candle which left third degree burns across her entire body

Gianna Wrightman was just five-years-old when her t-shirt was set alight by a scented candle which left third degree burns across her entire body

Gianna Wrightman was just five-years-old when her t-shirt was set alight by a scented candle which left third degree burns across her entire body

The youngster was kept in a medically induced coma for a month as medics scrambled to salvage her skin

The youngster was kept in a medically induced coma for a month as medics scrambled to salvage her skin

The youngster was kept in a medically induced coma for a month as medics scrambled to salvage her skin

When her mother next saw her little girl she was 'unrecognisable' and wrapped head-to-toe in bandages. The youngster puts on a brave smile as she recovers from a number of skin grafts and plastic surgery

When her mother next saw her little girl she was 'unrecognisable' and wrapped head-to-toe in bandages. The youngster puts on a brave smile as she recovers from a number of skin grafts and plastic surgery

When her mother next saw her little girl she was ‘unrecognisable’ and wrapped head-to-toe in bandages. The youngster puts on a brave smile as she recovers from a number of skin grafts and plastic surgery

Gianna had to use a wheelchair for three months after the accident because her feet were so severely singed

Gianna had to use a wheelchair for three months after the accident because her feet were so severely singed

Gianna had to use a wheelchair for three months after the accident because her feet were so severely singed

During this time Gianna, now eight, was given skin grafts on her upper thighs to help heal some the 33 per cent burns she suffered on her body.

The little girl also received lazer surgery and is set to receive more plastic surgery on her neck, hands, face and arms both this year and next to help her make a full recovery.

Ms Wrightman is sharing her daughters story in order to encourage others to stop burning candles when children are around to stop incidents.

The mother said: ‘Gianna had just got out of the bath, so my mum threw one of her own shirts on my daughter for her to wear to bed until I picked her up after work.

‘My mum had just bought a new candle to make her house smell good and had it lit.

‘She left the candle unattended and was doing some chores in the other room and my daughter was curious and started playing with it – but the next thing she knew she was in flames.

Even once Gianna woke up from the coma, she had to go under the knife multiple more times to salvage her burnt skin

Even once Gianna woke up from the coma, she had to go under the knife multiple more times to salvage her burnt skin

Even once Gianna woke up from the coma, she had to go under the knife multiple more times to salvage her burnt skin

Despite the long-road of recovery ahead for Gianna, her mother Rebeka Wrightman (pictured together) insists that her future is bright due to the ongoing support of her family

Despite the long-road of recovery ahead for Gianna, her mother Rebeka Wrightman (pictured together) insists that her future is bright due to the ongoing support of her family

Despite the long-road of recovery ahead for Gianna, her mother Rebeka Wrightman (pictured together) insists that her future is bright due to the ongoing support of her family

Ms Wrightman has begged other parents not to use candles in their home with young children around

Ms Wrightman has begged other parents not to use candles in their home with young children around

She said: 'I hope that by sharing this story it encourages other families not to either'

She said: 'I hope that by sharing this story it encourages other families not to either'

Ms Wrightman has begged other parents not to use candles in their home with young children around

‘She was screaming for her grandmother, and my mum ran in and put the fire out before running to my sister’s house with her where she called both me and an ambulance.

WHAT ARE THIRD DEGREE BURNS? 

This type of burn destroys the outer layer of skin (epidermis) and the entire layer beneath (the dermis).

What causes a third-degree burn? 

  • A scalding liquid
  • Skin that comes in contact with a hot object for an extended period of time
  • Flames from a fire
  • An electrical source
  • A chemical source

What are the symptoms of a third-degree burn? 

  • Dry and leathery skin
  • Black, white, brown, or yellow skin
  • Swelling
  • Lack of pain because nerve endings have been destroyed.

Treatment for third-degree burns

Specific treatment for a full thickness third-degree burn will be determined by your child’s doctor, based on the following:

  • Your child’s age, overall health, and medical history
  • Extent of the burn
  • Location of the burn
  • Cause of the burn
  • Your child’s tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies
  • Your opinion or preference

Treatment for full thickness, third-degree burns will depend on the severity of the burn.

Burn severity is determined by the amount of body surface area that has been affected. 

Treatment may include:

  • Early cleaning and debriding (removing dead skin and tissue from the burned area). This procedure can be done in a special bathtub in the hospital or as a surgical procedure.
  • Intravenous (IV) fluids containing electrolytes
  • Intravenous (IV) or oral antibiotics if your child develops an infection
  • Antibiotic ointments or creams
  • Skin grafting (may be required to achieve closure of the wounded area)
  • Functional and cosmetic reconstruction
  • Tetanus shot

 

‘I arrived within minutes and then the ambulance came – they put her on a stretcher and took us straight to a children’s hospital in Detroit.

‘The next time I saw her I didn’t even recognise her – she was wrapped up head-to-toe in bandages and was put into a coma.’

Even once Gianna woke up from the coma, she had to go under the knife multiple more times over the course of three months.

She had to relearn how to walk after her feet had been so severely burned in the accident.

Her mother added: ‘For the next three months she received skin grafts to her upper thighs, as her skin was completely raw.

‘She has some donor skin and a lot of her skin came from her back – the surgeon scraped her whole back and put the skin on her trunk, chest and neck.

‘After these skin grafts she also had laser therapy and is still expected to have several more surgeries in the future as she grows to release the skin on her face, neck, arms and hands.

‘Once we were discharged from the hospital in December 2016, Gianna would have to attend physical and occupational therapy twice a week for two years to help her get back on her feet.

‘She has had a total of eight surgeries so far, but it’s likely she will have to continue having them well into the future.’

Despite the long-road of recovery ahead for Gianna, Ms Wrightman insists that her future is bright due to the ongoing support of her family.

She has begged other parents not to use candles in their home with young children around.

She said: ‘I still believe that Gianna’s future is going to be wonderful – she has a great family and mum, we all love her so much.

‘We will all never stop learning about burns and scarring as far as me and my family goes to help her have the most normal and comfortable life possible.

‘However, as a family we have vouched never to light a candle again with the children around and I hope that by sharing this story it encourages other families not to either.

‘Even though you may teach your little ones about fire safety, kids are always curious.

‘I wouldn’t even take a risk or a chance with lighting any candles if children live in the home with you, as I wouldn’t want anyone else to go through what my daughter has had to.’ 

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Larry Emdur lashes out at firebugs as NSW fires rage at catastrophic levels

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As fires rage across NSW, Channel Seven’s Morning Show host Larry Emdur has made a stand. 

Taking to Instagram on Tuesday, the 54-year-old lashed out at firebugs intent on ignoring warnings. 

The TV host shared a snapshot of what appeared to be a page from his notepad app. 

'What do you reckon we do to the f***wits who deliberately light fires?' Larry Emdur (pictured) lashed on Instagram out as NSW blazes rage at catastrophic levels

'What do you reckon we do to the f***wits who deliberately light fires?' Larry Emdur (pictured) lashed on Instagram out as NSW blazes rage at catastrophic levels

‘What do you reckon we do to the f***wits who deliberately light fires?’ Larry Emdur (pictured) lashed on Instagram out as NSW blazes rage at catastrophic levels

It read: ‘Hey, what do you reckon we should do to the ****wits who deliberately light fires on days with a Catastrophic Fire Warning?’

He had plenty of support from his fans, with one person commenting under the photo: ‘Hmmmm it only takes one spark at the moment, so so dry.’

Another person commented in agreement:  ‘Jail time isn’t enough. They ruin people’s lives.’

Not happy! The 54-year-old lashed out at firebugs who ignore warnings, with this post

Not happy! The 54-year-old lashed out at firebugs who ignore warnings, with this post

Not happy! The 54-year-old lashed out at firebugs who ignore warnings, with this post

He wrote: 'Hey, what do you reckon we should do to the ****wits who deliberately light fires on days with a Catastrophic Fire Warning?' Pictured: Larry Emdur

He wrote: 'Hey, what do you reckon we should do to the ****wits who deliberately light fires on days with a Catastrophic Fire Warning?' Pictured: Larry Emdur

He wrote: ‘Hey, what do you reckon we should do to the ****wits who deliberately light fires on days with a Catastrophic Fire Warning?’ Pictured: Larry Emdur 

Someone else added: ‘Make them rebuild the communities they’ve destroyed’ garnering numerous ‘likes’ from others.   

Firefighters have been on high-alert since early Tuesday morning, with a mix of scorching temperatures and winds of up to 90km/h sparking a ‘catastrophic’ warning across swathes of New South Wales.

About 80 fires are burning from Nowra in New South Wales all the way up to the Queensland border, with authorities warning the situation is changing ‘very rapidly’. 

Tragic: About 80 fires are burning from Nowra in New South Wales all the way up to the Queensland border, with authorities warning the situation is changing 'very rapidly'

Tragic: About 80 fires are burning from Nowra in New South Wales all the way up to the Queensland border, with authorities warning the situation is changing 'very rapidly'

Tragic: About 80 fires are burning from Nowra in New South Wales all the way up to the Queensland border, with authorities warning the situation is changing ‘very rapidly’

There were 12 fires burning at emergency warning level on Tuesday night, from just north of Sydney to the Queensland border.

The emergency blazes include fires in the Wollemi National Park near Lithgow, at Taree on the mid-north coast and inland from Port Macquarie.

At one point during the afternoon, there were 15 emergency fires, close to Friday’s record of 17.

Some 80 fires were burning at 7pm from Nowra all the way up to Woodenbong on the border. About 40 were uncontained. 

Horrific: There were 12 fires burning at emergency warning level on Tuesday night, from just north of Sydney to the Queensland border

Horrific: There were 12 fires burning at emergency warning level on Tuesday night, from just north of Sydney to the Queensland border

Horrific: There were 12 fires burning at emergency warning level on Tuesday night, from just north of Sydney to the Queensland border

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Boy with ‘dementia’ recognises parents again after getting a chip implanted in his head

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A five-year-old boy who forgot his parents due to a rare ‘childhood dementia’ has recognised them again after having a chip implanted in his head.

Harley Bond, from Sheffield, was diagnosed with Sanfilippo syndrome when he was three, and within months it began robbing him of his memory. 

The condition, which affects around one in 70,000 children, kills most sufferers in childhood. It progressively ravages their brain and causes dementia-like symptoms.  

Harley’s parents Wayne Bond, 47, and Emma Siddal, 38, were heartbroken when he no longer recognised them and stopped saying ‘mummy’ and ‘daddy’.

They signed the youngster up for a new clinical trial to implant a chip in his skull at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London in 2017.

And his parents have been thrilled with the results as both his speech and ability has improved, and he recognises them both again. 

Harley Bond, from Sheffield, was diagnosed with Sanfilippo syndrome when he was three and within months he forgot his parents Wayne Bond, 47, and Emma Siddal, 38

Harley Bond, from Sheffield, was diagnosed with Sanfilippo syndrome when he was three and within months he forgot his parents Wayne Bond, 47, and Emma Siddal, 38

Harley Bond, from Sheffield, was diagnosed with Sanfilippo syndrome when he was three and within months he forgot his parents Wayne Bond, 47, and Emma Siddal, 38

His family signed the youngster up for a new clinical trial at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London in 2017

His family signed the youngster up for a new clinical trial at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London in 2017

His family signed the youngster up for a new clinical trial at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London in 2017

The trial involves a chip being implanted into his skull which releases small quantities of the enzyme missing in Sanfilippo syndrome

The trial involves a chip being implanted into his skull which releases small quantities of the enzyme missing in Sanfilippo syndrome

The trial involves a chip being implanted into his skull which releases small quantities of the enzyme missing in Sanfilippo syndrome

His parents have been thrilled with the results as both his speech and ability has improved and he recognises them both again

His parents have been thrilled with the results as both his speech and ability has improved and he recognises them both again

His parents have been thrilled with the results as both his speech and ability has improved and he recognises them both again

Ms Siddal, a full-time carer, said: ‘It was heart-breaking in the months he couldn’t recognise us, he struggled to make eye contact with us, and didn’t call us mum and dad.

HOW DOES THE CHIP WORK?

Harley’s brain cells are filled with waste because his body is not able to break down large sugar molecules

Doctors cut open top of his head to implant a chip in his skull which releases small quantities the enzyme alpha-N-acetylglucosaminidase, which is missing in Sanfilippo syndrome patients.

The enzyme clears the large sugar molecules, stopping waste building up in his brain and halting the progression of his symptoms. 

‘The trial is doing well, and it’s really giving us a little bit of hope for the future, getting on it was potluck and we’re happy he is responding well.

‘We realise, however, that it won’t cure him, but it might give us a few extra precious years with our brave son.’

Despite developing well in his first few months of his life, Harley’s speech started to regress when he was three. 

His parents were devastated when medics revealed he had the life-threatening condition in 2016. But they were given a ray of hope when doctors turned them onto a new clinical trial in 2017. 

Mr Bond said: ‘He was born completely fine and developing well, but then everything changed.

‘He was really boisterous with other kids and his nose was always runny, he kept getting infections and started to lose his speech.

‘When he went to the park, or was with other kids, we knew there was something up because he just didn’t act like everyone else, he was really boisterous.

Sanfilippo syndrome is caused by a lack of an enzyme that normally breaks down and recycles a large sugar molecule called heparan sulphate. It affects around one in 70,000 children and kills most sufferers before they become an adult

Sanfilippo syndrome is caused by a lack of an enzyme that normally breaks down and recycles a large sugar molecule called heparan sulphate. It affects around one in 70,000 children and kills most sufferers before they become an adult

Sanfilippo syndrome is caused by a lack of an enzyme that normally breaks down and recycles a large sugar molecule called heparan sulphate. It affects around one in 70,000 children and kills most sufferers before they become an adult

The treatment appears to have stopped his condition worsening and given his parents more precious time with their little boy. Harley in hospital after having the chip implanted in his skull

The treatment appears to have stopped his condition worsening and given his parents more precious time with their little boy. Harley in hospital after having the chip implanted in his skull

 The treatment appears to have stopped his condition worsening and given his parents more precious time with their little boy. Harley in hospital after having the chip implanted in his skull

WHAT IS SANFILIPPO SYNDROME? 

Sanfilippo syndrome is a genetic and terminal disorder that affects around one in 70,000 live births.

Victims lack an enzyme that is essential for normal cellular function.

The condition eventually causes a buildup of a toxic material – heparin sulfate – resulting in dementia, loss of speech, blindness and eventual death.

The disease is referred to as childhood Alzheimer’s due to the effects. 

Sufferers typically die before they are out of their teens.

There is no known cure, however clinical trials are being conducted in order to find one.

‘He couldn’t remember simple things like knowing how to use the toilet or what was food and what was not.

‘The hospital spoke to us about option and let us know about this new trial, but they told us he would need to do a year of studying to assess his memory.’

Mr Bond added: ‘Luckily his memory was good enough to be able to get onto the trial, he could remember enough of what he was told to show there was hope he could be saved.

‘It was going well but then he had a bad patch for a few months, he didn’t know who we were and couldn’t even call us mummy or daddy, the whole thing is soul-destroying because we’re looking at our little boy and he’s dying.

‘We try to do everything we can to stay positive and being mentally positive is the hardest part, kids with this syndrome don’t make it to adulthood so we know we just have to enjoy the time we have with him.  

‘With the clinical trial he is on, he has good days and bad says but naturally this condition is supposed to just get worse and worse, which isn’t the case with Harley, sometimes he’s completely in control of himself but other days he can’t move.’

The trial is being funded by US pharmaceutical companies. Harley is one of 22 children around the world to be enrolled in the trial.

The chip releases small quantities of the missing enzyme that normally breaks down and recycles a large sugar molecule called heparan sulphate.

The build-up of the toxic material results in dementia-like symptoms, loss of speech, blindness and eventual death.

Thomas Mathers, chief executive of drug giant Allievex, one half of the firm running the trials, said:  ‘We have a device that is implanted into the child’s head which releases a synthetic version of the missing enzyme directly into the brain that washes the sugar build up which causes the neurons to be killed.

‘Worldwide, we have 22 children who have used or are using this trial.’ 

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