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The Inside Story

SALEM: Police arrested a serial killer and rapist in Salem district late Saturday night and charged him with murdering seven people, including five women and a two-year-old girl, in a bloody rampage that lasted 15 days.

Investigators said A Subbarayan, 27, a truck driver from Kathiripatti village near Pethanaickenpalayam in Salem, went on his horrific killing spree in Salem, Ariyalur and Trichy districts. He targeted women who lived alone in secluded areas. Police have also charged him with the rape of three of his victims.

Policemen arrested Subbarayan after he attacked a shopkeeper in Periyeri village near Thalaivasal, in an attempted robbery. "Villagers caught him and handed him over to police the Thalaivasal police," an investigating officer said. "During interrogation, he confessed to seven murders in Salem, Ariyalur and Trichy districts."

Investigators said Subbarayan fit the profile of a serial killer. "He said he was raised in a broken home by his stepmother who tortured him. His father, who married three times, does not appear to have done anything to stop the torture," the officer said. "Though he took money he found in the victims' houses, robbery was clearly not the motive for the murders."

Subbarayan left home at 17 and found a job as a truck cleaner. He later learned to drive and worked as a truck driver, but remained a drifter, moving from town to town with no apparent permanent address. He lived in north India for five years before returning to the state.

Subbarayan's first victim was his grandmother Ayyammal, who was 65 when he killed her in 2012. Police arrested him and he was in Salem Central Prison till a month ago, when he received bail. "Subbarayan said he started to rob travellers on highways in Salem and Ariyalur districts after his release," the officer said. "He appears to have snapped around a fortnight ago."
The officer said Subbarayan raped and murdered Chinnathayee, 45, on August 20 in Ulipuram in Salem district. He killed her by smashing her head with a boulder and took Rs 10,000 from her house. He killed Jayamelu, 82, of Kallakudi in Trichy district, the next day and made away with Rs 1,000 from her house.

After lying low for eight days, Subbarayan resurfaced on August 29 in Kairalabath in Ariyalur district, where he murdered Lakshmi, 75, and Savithri, 50. "He raped Savithri before murdering her and took a total of Rs 900 from their houses," the officer said.

Subbarayan murdered three members of a family on September 5, including a 2-year-old girl, in Senthamangalam village in Ariyalur district. He attacked Parvathy, 25, who was asleep with her husband Velmurugan, 33, and their daughter. "Subbarayan slit Velmurugan's neck with a knife when he tried to rescue his wife. He then raped Parvathy and stabbed her to death. He killed the child by banging her head against a wall," the officer said.

Attur DSP Kasinathan said police have charged Subbarayan with seven murders and the rape of three women. They had initially charged Subbarayan with the attempted murder of shopkeeper Selvam, 45, and robbery.

After Subbarayan's confession, the Thalaivasal police alerted Salem SP R Sakthivel, who rushed to Thalaivasal. Salem range DIG Vidya Kulkarni, SP Sakthivel, Ariyalur SP Ziaul Haque and DSP M Sreedharan questioned Subbarayan about the murders.

A senior police officer said investigators suspect that Subbarayan could be responsible for other murders as well. "We will know the full extent of his crime only after a thorough investigation," he said.

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