Umesh Reddy, a policeman-turned-serial killer and rapist, is the latest criminal to be featured in the Netflix anthology series Indian Predator. Subtitled The Beast of Bangalore, the fourth season drops today on the streaming service.
[Trigger warning: Mentions of graphic sexual violence]
A serial killer and rapist, Umesh Reddy’s crimes were mostly based in Karnataka but his patterns do mirror that of another notorious killer, M Jaishankar (AKA “Psycho Shankar”) who wreaked havoc in Tamil Nadu. Both were charged for multiple rapes and both had escapes custody multiple times, revealing the fallacies within the policing system itself. Reddy was nicknamed 'The Ripper' for the similarities in his modus operandi with Jack The Ripper.
In Season 3 (Murder in a Courtroom), we saw how Akku Yadav could easily bribe cops with money, food, and alcohol to avoid any interrogations or arrests. Reddy’s was a similar case but what makes his story stand out is his background in government service. Usually found with the lingerie of his victims, Yadav also displayed cross-dressing tendencies that makes his case all the more eccentric.
Reddy’s CRPF and police origins: Hailing from the Chitradurga district of Karnataka, Reddy started out as a jawan (soldier) for the paramilitary force CRPF (Central Reserve Police Force) with his first posting being Jammu & Kashmir.
His early tendencies to inflict violence on women were apparent when he was tasked with guarding a commandant’s house. Instead, he attempted to rape the commandant’s daughter.
There is no reported evidence on any subsequent court-martial proceedings but according to police sources, Reddy ran away to Chitradurga and donned another uniform; this time that of the DAR (District Armed Reserve) police.
DAR clearly wasn’t aware of Reddy’s stint at CRPF. In the beginning of his new career, Reddy was involved in a road rage accident, only for his crime to be ignored as “petty” by the Inspector above him. But Karnataka was not ready for what was to follow.
Reddy’s first crimes and arrests: As of now, Reddy has confessed to killing and raping 18 women (convicted for 9). But crime researchers do suggest that the number might have been way higher with many of the cases being undocumented.
It is uncertain when he started out his serial killings but perhaps the first reported case can be traced back to November 1996. Attempting to assault a high-school girl in Chitradurga, Reddy was hit by a stone as the potential victim managed to escape.
Just a month later, he managed to sexually abuse and kill another high-schooler, a 16-year-old called Roopa. Come January 1997, and a Republic Day parade was in progress when unexpectedly the first girl managed to identify Reddy.
DAR suspended him from service and an arrest was made soon after. For unspecified reasons, Reddy managed to escape custody right when the Chitradurga authorities were transferring him to the Bellary prison. Hopefully, the Netflix docu-series would fill the gaps with new investigations.
However, what is known is that after his escape, Reddy managed to kill several more women including an income-tax officer’s wife in Bangalore, and a widow in the nearby Kunigal. A brief detour to Gujarat also resulted in the deaths of two girls in Baroda and one in Ahmedabad.
Stealing underwear and second arrest (and escape): Reddy had a pattern of stealing women's undergarments; not just those of his victims, but also the ones hanging outside random houses. In fact, when Peenya (an industrial area in Bangalore) Police finally nabbed him in July 1997, the cops recovered a gunny bag filled with used lingerie from his room.
And yet again, Reddy managed to escape within a day when he was being transferred to the MICO Layout (a locality in Bangalore) police station for further interrogation. The “how” aspect of his escape is yet again ominous but two police personnel were suspended right away for their negligence.
Necrophilia and third escape: In February 1998, Reddy’s next crime showed signs of necrophilia as he was found having repeated sexual intercourse with the corpse of his next victim, a 37-year-old widow named Jayashree Subbiah, yet again a native of Bangalore’s Peenya.
Subbiah’s 8-year-old son Suresh returned home that afternoon only to find Reddy tying his dead mother to a window grill. Reddy managed to escape the house, telling the boy that his mother was possessed by an evil spirit and needed an exorcism.
Another Peenya woman could have been his victim but the woman managed to alert her neighbours, forcing Reddy to jump down the first floor and sprain his ankle. A third arrest commenced.
This time, he lasted longer in jail; with his third escape taking place in 1999. Reddy’s luck still didn’t work in his favour as he was yet again nabbed in Chikkaballapur by Inspector Nyame Gowda (his fourth arrest).
Fourth escape and the continuing reign of terror: And yet again, Reddy managed to outwit the authorities, this time through apparent bribery. On the night of March 3, 2002, Reddy was to be shifted from Bellary to Bangalore in a local state service bus.
Reminiscing on this night, Reddy told the media that he was not even handcuffed on this bus journey as he managed to win over the DAR police officials with rum and chicken. When the bus stopped near the Hiriyur bypass, Reddy got out on the pretence of taking a leak.
The aftermath is quite predictable at this point.
With his newfound freedom, Reddy spent the next two months attacking more women in Hubli and Dharwad and also shifting his base to Pune in Maharashtra. He worked as a waiter in Pune, stole some cash, and continued killing victims, collecting their underwear as souvenirs.
The beast is finally caged: Just like many other serial killers, Reddy had marked Bangalore as his city. So, even though he shifted his focus to Maharashtra and Gujarat, going back to his native state and city seemed enticing, perhaps to challenge the authorities as we saw in the case of Chandrakant Jha in Indian Predator Season 1.
So, when Reddy came back to Bangalore in May 2002, he left his luggage at the Yeshwanthpur railway station. This was followed by a trip to a local salon where an auto-rickshaw driver recognised his face from a newspaper photograph.
The driver soon called up his brother who ended up alerting the cops. An unaware Reddy was arrested for the fifth time and his bag was recovered. This was what the police found,
What is Reddy doing now? It is easy to think that Reddy might have either been sentenced to death or imprisoned for life for all his heinous crimes. The latter did happen, only for the sentence to be reduced to 30 years!
Out of the 18 reported cases of rape and murder, he could be convicted only for 9, with the remaining 9 dismissed for lack of evidence. In 2006, a fast-track court in Bangalore slapped him with a death sentence, a 7-year sentence (with Rs 25,000 fine) and a 10-year sentence (with Rs 25,000 fine). The death sentence furthered the case’s journey to the Karnataka High Court.
The next year saw the Karnataka HC’s division bench finalising the convictions but drawing polarising responses on the death sentence. Half of the judges supported the decision while the others ignored death sentence and suggested rigorous imprisonment instead.
The matter was even taken to the Supreme Court in 2011 which upheld the death sentence, the judges adding that no amount of rehabilitation can help Reddy. The murder of Jayashree Subbiah was also placed in the “rarest of rare” category, making it a prerequisite for capital punishment.
Reddy tried appealing to the President with a mercy petition but it fell on deaf ears.
Reddy then filed a fresh petition, now pending before a Supreme Court constitutional bench.
And then, the latest shock came this year on November 4, 2022. The SC has now reduced his death sentence to the aforementioned 30-year sentence, but with a rider: if an application of remission is moved on his behalf, it will be considered only after his 30-year sentence is over. If there's no remission is granted, he will spend the rest of his life in jail.
The court order stated that the judges had commuted Reddy’s sentence on the grounds that he had already been placed in solitary confinement for 10 years.
Now, if Reddy manages to survive the remaining three decades in prison (unlike “Psycho Shankar” who killed himself in jail), then there’s a very real possibility that this “Indian Predator” would be free among the public yet again...