An Indian “psychopath” witch doctor and his couple have been accused of dismembering women as human sacrifices – even cooking and partially eating them.
Convicted rapist Mohammed Shafi was arrested this week along with his husband and wife Bhagaval and Laila Singh after the partial remains of two women were found in the couple’s yard, police said on Wednesday.
They “brutally abused and killed the women in rituals three months apart,” police spokesman Pramod Kumar told Agence France-Presse.
“The killings were brutal… The nature of the killing is indescribable,” Kochi City Police Commissioner CH Nagaraju told the Indian Times.
The victims, both women in their 50s, were tortured for an hour before being beheaded and dismembered – with one hacked into 56 pieces, a senior police source told The Hindustan Times.
Laila Singh later confessed to eating parts of the bodies – and claimed witch doctor Shafi promised it would bring them wealth, police said.
“Part of the bodies were cooked and eaten by the three accused,” the local commissioner told the newspaper.
After the killings, Shafi – who was released just this year for the rape and attempted murder of a 75-year-old woman – had sex with Laila Singh while her husband prayed nearby, the reports said.
Police believe Shafi was the ringleader and said he duped the distressed couple after befriending them on Facebook.
Shafi “is a psychopath and a sexual pervert, and the one who has sexual pleasure and will do anything – even kill for it,” the police commissioner said, going on to call him “a sadist.”
“Shafi is a hardcore criminal and has refused to cooperate with the investigation,” the commissioner said.
But “when all three were being interrogated together, Laila broke down and gave us details of the two murders, blaming Shafi,” he said.
She said she and her husband were struggling financially with their massage parlor business, and Shafi convinced her that “human sacrifice is the path to great wealth,” police told AFP.
Her first victim – identified only as Roslin, a woman in her 50s – was cut into five pieces after being lured into the home in June, a senior police source told the outlet.
Singh’s breasts were cut off after the murder, the reports said.
After that sacrifice failed to bring the desired wealth, they killed again in September, this time dismembering 52-year-old victim P. Padma into 56 pieces, the source said.
Shafi mutilated Padma’s genitals and slit her throat, Asian News International (ANI) said.
“The second murder was much more brutal because after the first Singh approached Shafi and complained that he had seen no gain in material wealth and was told that there must be a more cruel victim because the family was under a curse the source told the Hindustan Times.
All three appeared in court on Wednesday, where they were held for 14 days before a further hearing.
Whether there may have been other victims is being investigated further, police confirmed.
“Kidnapping and killing people for wealth and superstitious beliefs is a crime unimaginable in a state like Kerala,” Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan told local media.
Experts say belief in witchcraft and the occult is widespread in many tribal and remote areas of India, where cases of human sacrifice have occasionally been reported, AFP noted.
Two men were reportedly arrested earlier this month for allegedly killing a six-year-old child in the capital, New Delhi.
The builders told police they were under the influence of cannabis and murdered the boy as a sacrifice to the Hindu god Shiva to get rich.