In Search of India’s First Female Serial Killer

Pop Culture

In Search of India’s First Female Serial Killer

Illustration: Namaah/ Arré


n December 31, 2007, the police arrested a middle-aged woman loitering near the Bangalore Interstate Bus Terminus. She was dressed in a traditional Kanjeevaram sari, flowers adorned her hair, and she wore a sweet smile. KD Kempamma, aged 45, appeared to be selling second-hand cell phones and the police had received an anonymous tip-off that there was something amiss about the woman.

Indeed there was. KD Kempamma had several aliases: Jayamma, Lakshmi, Santramma, and the one which she most commonly used, Mallika. She was also a cold-blooded murderess, who had killed six women by poisoning them with cyanide and then decamped with their jewellery.