Introduction: From 2010-2011, several murders of beggars were reported from Colombo and suburb. The motive of such killings was not obvious and some parties suspected an attack targeting beggars by an organized group.
Objective: To analyse the medico-legal aspects of the series of killing.
Methods: Data of beggars who had been killed, serially, under similar circumstances in Colombo and suburbs were collected from January 2010 to December 2011.
Results: There were 14 murders (12 males) in 9 towns. The bodies were left on the location of killing without being moved. The causes of death had been blunt force trauma to head. No suspects were arrested. Sole eye witness confirmed the presence of ‘rituals’ and ‘cooling-off period’ in suspect. In November 2011, a beggar was arrested while attempting to kill another beggar when the latter was a sleep. The suspect was produced for medico-legal examination and later referred to a Psychiatrist. He was diagnosed to have anti-social traits. On a subsequent day, he admitted that he had murdered altogether 14 beggars. He had shown all the crime scenes to the investigators. He was sent for inward psychiatric treatment and is awaiting trial.
Conclusions: Usually serial killers are males with past criminal records who kill strangers, perform ‘rituals’, leave ‘signature’, display the dead bodies and remove souvenirs. All above characteristics except the last two were evident in this case. Fourteen independent, planned murders with potential “cooling-off periods” indicate that the suspect could be the highest 'potential serial killer' in Sri Lanka. The importance of the establishment of a National Criminal Investigating Centre is suggested to investigate such unsolved crimes.
Galle Medical Journal, Vol 18: No. 2, September 2013;Page 17-21