Two parents, both accomplished academics from Madanapalle town of Chittoor district in Andhra Pradesh were taken into police custody on Sunday, January 24 for the deaths of their two adult daughters.
When officers first arrived at the residence, summoned by neighbors that heard "torturous noises," as well as "loud screams and chants," they were initially denied entry to the home. When they did gain entry though, they were not prepared for what they discovered.
The father, 55-year-old Dr. Purushottam Naidu, an associate professor of chemistry at the Government Degree College for Women, was found in a trance-like state.
Officers found the body of the youngest daughter, 22-year-old Sai Divya in the puja room clad in a red sari with clear blunt force trauma to her head. Her elder sister, 27-year-old Alekhya was found reportedly nude, upstairs in her bedroom.
The daughters had been stabbed with a trident and beaten in the head with a dumbbell. "If there was no evil spirit," Padmaja asked, "would they have survived four to five hours?''
Their mother, 50-year-old Padmaja Naidu, a gold medalist and postgraduate in mathematics, was found also in a trace-like state staring at a wall. “She was looking at the wall. She did not seem to be aware of our presence,” Deputy Superintendent of Police Ravi Mohana Chary said.
When she did become aware of their presence though, Padmaja yelled at officers for "disrupting the ritual" which she believed would see her daughters resurrected to life before the night was over.
“She said that we brought demons into the house when we opened the doors. She asked us to leave and come back the next day and witness the miracle that was about to happen in the house, where her daughters would come back to life,” Chary explained. “They told us that a miracle was about to happen, which we had spoiled by entering the house. They told us that the morning after the magic that would occur would be spoken about by the whole world.”
Padmaja though, also because upset with her husband and was heard in the background of a video asking, "Why could you not have waited half an hour? If you had kept your faith, our girls would have come alive.''
The family was said to have isolated in March 2020 in response to the coronavirus having only very limited contact outside of the home, and that for at least the four days preceding the murders, had not allowed anyone else to enter their home.
“The mother said that there was evil inside her younger daughter’s head. So, she broke it open. It is hard to describe what we saw. It was difficult for us to understand,” Chary said. Charges were not immediately filed as officers wanted to take time to perform a mental health assessment on the couple.
“They seemed to believe every word they said. We want to assess their mental health, he said.
While attempting to perform a covid test as a part of the booking process, Padmaja told the medical staff, "I am Shiva. It is from my body particles that Corona came, not from China." She further stated, "I am telling you coronavirus will go away by March without using vaccines.''
When Purushottam attempted to reason with her, she snapped at him saying, "Right now, you are not my husband. I am Shiva."
"Had the police not intervened, the couple would have killed themselves too, in the belief that all of them would later come alive,' Chary told NDTV, as the family was described as being "extremely superstitious" and held beliefs that "Kalyuga (the current age) is ending and Satyuga is beginning," and even "Shiva will come."
On Tuesday, January 26, both Purushottam and Padmaja were charged with murder.