How Friend Request From Fake Profile Turned Haiku Poet, Wife Into Serial Killers & Cannibals

A criminal mastermind’s fake Facebook profile and a couple’s greed for wealth led to two gruesome murders that sent shivers down the spine of Elanthoor, a sleepy hamlet in Kerala’s Pathanamthitta district.

On October 11, police arrested Bhagaval Singh, a traditional healer and haiku poet, and his wife Laila for allegedly murdering two women on the advice of one Mohammed Shafi alias Rasheed, who claimed the “human sacrifice ritual” – which included the consumption of the victims’ meat – would bring them money and prosperity. Rasheed, the alleged mastermind behind the barbarian saga, has also been arrested.

The saga began when 59-year-old Laila, the second wife of 68-year-old Bhagaval Singh, came across a Facebook post inviting “those interested in a prosperous life”. After the couple explored the post, Singh, popularly known as ‘Vaidyan’ among the locals, received a friend request from someone named ‘Sreedevi’ who claimed to be a fan of his Haiku poetry. Haiku is the Japanese name for a 17-syllable poem that traditionally does not rhyme.

Singh and ‘Sreedevi’ started chatting regularly online and after some time the latter convinced the healer cum poet to enlist the help of a ‘sidhan’ (occult practitioner) named Rasheed from Perumbavoor in Ernakulam to amass enormous wealth.

Bhagaval Singh or Laila did not realize that ‘Sreedevi’ was none other than Rasheed alias Mohammed Shafi who was hiding behind a fake profile. After being “introduced” to the couple by ‘Sreedevi’, Rasheed began to regularly visit the Singh’s home in Elanthoor. To the locals, whom Singh held in high esteem, it just seemed like regular visits for treatment. Soon Singh, Laila and Rasheed formed a strong bond.

According to police sources, Rasheed initiated the first act of his plan when he told the couple to have sex with Laila in front of Singh at their home, which was located in a secluded spot surrounded by other vacant houses. Blinded by the promise of wealth and money, the couple admitted. According to police sources, Singh had witnessed Rasheed perform sexual acts on his wife “with folded hands”.

After more such visits to their home, Rasheed reportedly convinced the couple to indulge in “human sacrifice” to “wash their sins” in order to get rich.

The first victim of this ‘sacrifice’ was a lottery seller who took Rasheed from Kochi to Elanthoor on the promise of Rs 10 lakh for acting in a sleaze video. Police said the trio killed her on June 8. The victim’s daughter filed a missing person case with Kalady Police Station on August 27, but no progress was made until last week of September.

Two months after the first murder, Rasheed told Bhagaval Singh and Laila that the goddesses are not satisfied and that another ‘sacrifice’ has to be made. This time he chose another lottery seller, who was originally from Dharmapuri in Tamil Nadu, as the victim. Police said Rasheed followed the same modus operandi and took the second victim, who lived in Ponnurunni in Kochi, to the couple’s home in Elanthoor. On September 26, the trio allegedly killed her.

Police sources told News18 that Laila has confessed that she and her husband have been cooking and consuming the meats of both victims since Rasheed told them it would “preserve” their youth. The trio is said to have buried the mutilated bodies of the two women after the murders. When the remains of the first victim were exhumed after the crime came to light, the body was reportedly found missing a rib.

What landed Mohammed Shafi alias Rasheed alias ‘Sreedevi’, Bhagaval Singh and Laila in police custody was the quick missing person’s complaint lodged by the second victim’s sister on September 26, the day she was murdered. Kadavanthra police sprang into action and all three were arrested on October 11.

The couple was arrested in Kochi, 120 km from their native Elanthoor. Shocked to hear the gory details of the crime, locals said they regarded Singh alias ‘Vaidyan’ as an activist of progressive political movements. They said he was known for being gentle and sincere among the locals and also popular in literary circles for his haikus.

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