The Goa police on Thursday confirmed that eight out of the ten dead bodies found across the state in the span of three days were murders, and said it has made an important breakthrough in at least four deaths, with the arrest of a man in this connection.
In a late night operation, the police arrested a slum-dweller, Babu Reddy. The police also detained some others for questioning in connection with the killing of a family of four, including a 35-year-old woman, who was also sexually abused before the murder.
"The gang, involved in petty theft of scrapped material, murdered all the four including two children, when they resisted the rape of the woman," Superintendent of Police Atmaram Deshpande told reporters on Thursday.
While Deshpande refused to divulge the name of the arrested person, a senior police officer confirmed that one Babu Reddy had been arrested after a search operation in hutments at Chimbel, an area notorious for allegedly sheltering goons, adjacent to Panaji city.
Replying to a question, Deshpande ruled out any link of the arrested person to other killings.
"Other gang members were detained and interrogated by a special team of officers," he said.
"They were rag pickers and the gang had come to rob the scrap. They tried to sexually abuse the woman and when her family members objected, they were hit to death," the SP said.
Police said there were signs of head injury on all the bodies that were fished out from a creek running through Panaji city.
Deshpande said that post-mortems on the three bodies was conducted by a special panel of doctors who confirmed that two were smothered while one was strangulated.
Meanwhile, the police said that the four other bodies found since Monday were also cases of murder. The recovery of the bodies had triggered a scare across the coastal state.
The police said that two dead bodies found at Morjim on October 12 could be a case of suicide as the deceased were related to each other.
"It looks like a suicide pact, maybe by a couple," the SP said.
The state government has constituted two special teams to probe these deaths, which, they suspect, could be the handiwork of a serial killer.