'Possessive' husband tag on church killer

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  • Published 24.11.08
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Thiruvananthapuram, Nov. 24: Joseph Pallipurath, who had an arranged marriage with Reshma James last year, had grown intensely possessive about his wife whom he shot dead in a US church yesterday, her relatives say.

“I do not know whether the possessiveness was born of genuine love or an irrational suspicion about her. He did not like her meeting people and preferred her to be indoors all the time,” said James Kochuparampil, Reshma’s maternal uncle.

The couple had together arrived in Kerala three months ago, apparently to try and save the marriage which was falling apart because Pallipurath, 27, allegedly tortured his 24-year-old wife. But Reshma’s relatives here said they never guessed the marriage was on the rocks.

By then, however, the family had already received tidbits of information about Pallipurath’s wayward behaviour, for instance that “he was on drugs”. Still, they let Reshma go back to the US because she had relatives in America she could turn to for help anytime.

The couple, however, separated after returning to the US, the husband going to his home in Sacramento, California, and the wife taking refuge with her aunt Silvy Perincheril, 47, in New Jersey. Perincheril, a nurse, was by Reshma’s side in the church and was shot and critically injured by Pallipurath.

Reshma had graduated in nursing from Chennai and was completing formalities for enrolment as a registered nurse in the US. She had to start working soon to ensure a decent life for her family back home.

Reshma’s mother Mercy is estranged from her husband, Thumbanal James, and lives with younger son Jude, a Class XI student. Her elder son Rony is in Italy, doing a small-time job in a hotel.

A numbed Jude today provided the barest details on the phone and sought to be excused so he could be with his mother.

Reshma’s wedding was held in the teak town of Nilambur in the northern Malappuram district in August last year. Pallipurath’s family is settled in Nilambur.

The 5-foot-8 groom, already in the US like most eligible Malayalee Christian bachelors, wanted to marry a nurse who would easily find a job in the US. The matrimonial column in Apna Desh, a journal run by the Knanaya Church, brought them together.

Reshma’s relatives are trying to bring the body for burial at the parish church in Kaduthuruthy, near Kottayam.

Dennis John Malloosseril, 23, the second person killed in the church shooting, was a native of Kottayam. His parents M.A. John and Aleykutty live in Hawthorne, New Jersey. Dennis, a business administration graduate, worked in a pharmaceutical company.

Some 60 immigrant families from Kerala worship at the St Thomas Syrian Orthodox Knanaya Church in Clifton, where the shootings took place near the end of the Sunday service, being held in Malayalam.

The church’s members worship in a Christian tradition that traces its heritage to Abraham and its culture to Jews of the Aramaic-speaking regions of Israel and Syria, who migrated in AD 345 to Kerala.

Thousands of Knanaya people have migrated to North America in recent decades, starting churches in Canada, New York, Massachusetts, Texas and elsewhere. They preserve many customs modelled on Jewish traditions, including the menorah (a many-branched candle-holder), unleavened bread at Passover and wedding canopies. They marry within the community.