KD Kempamma serial killer
KD Kempamma Image Credit: PTI

While there are no official records of it, it is widely reported that K D Kempamma aka 'Cyanide Mallika' is the first female serial killer to get convicted in India.

Who is she?

Kempamma was reportedly a resident of Kaggalipura, a village on the outskirts of Bangalore, and was married to a tailor and ran her own chit-finance business. Her business went bust, her husband left her, and she was then reportedly thrown out her family house. All of this happened in and before 1998.

The first murder

In 1999, Kempamma embarked on her crime path with the murder of Mamatha Rajan (30) while she was praying. This also proved to be her usual modus operandi - she would watch women coming to temples and target those that appeared in distress.

She would then, according to media reports, befriend the distressed ladies with a promise to resolve their issue with a 'puja' or holy ritual. At the end of the ritual she gave each of her victims a cyanide-laced glass of water, following which she would steal her victims' valuables.

In 2000, Kempamma was arrested for trying to steal valuables from a house. She had been invited to perform a ritual there, but the victim escaped by screaming and was saved by her family. However, Kempamma served only six months in prison for her crime.

Seven known murders

In 2007, Kempamma went on a killing-robbery spree and murdered five women in less than three months. All of the cases involved her usual MO - distressed women, a holy ritual, cyanide-laced drinks and robbery. From promises to cure asthma to making sure a male son was born, each of these women were lured in by Kempamma with promises of divine intervention.

Five missing person cases were connected to this serial killer in 2009. One of the victims' bodies was found and linked to her, bring the count up to 7.

Families of the other missing people and police believe Kempamma was responsible as she was the common link between all of them.


In 2008, she was arrested when trying to peddle off jewellery that she stole from her victims. Police received a tip-off about Kempamma, who was operating under her alias 'Jayamma', and arrested her in December 2008. She confessed to her crimes and told police that robbery was the main motive.

Death sentence

Kempamma had two death sentences initially - one for the murder of 60-year old Muniyamma and the second for 30-year-old Nagaveni. She was convicted of multiple murders in separate trials. Her second death sentence was reduced to life in prison, as there was only circumstantial evidence against her in that case.

Sasikala connection

Kempamma was widely spoken about in the media again in 2017, when she roomed next to Sasikala, former Tamil Nadu CM Jayalalitha's political aide. They were housed in Parapan Agrahara jail in Karnataka and Sasikala had been convicted for a case of disappropriating assets.