A serial killer in the southern Indian city of Hyderabad, who was accused of murdering 18 women in two decades, has been taken into custody for the fourth time.

The accused, identified as 45-year-old Maina Ramulu, got married at the age of 21. He started killing women after his wife eloped with another man.

"When he was 21 years old, his parents got him married, but his wife eloped with another person. Since then, he bore a grudge against women and started committing serial killings," police officer Anjani Kumar said, Republic World reported.

He initially murdered 9 women, following which he was arrested and sentenced to life imprisonment. He, however, escaped prison in 2011, along with five other prisoners. After escaping, he killed five women and was again taken into custody in 2013. He was released from prison in 2018 following an appeal petition.

"He did not change his attitude and committed two more murders. He was arrested again and remained in judicial custody. Later, he was released from prison on July 31, 2020," the officer said, news agency ANI reported.

Earlier this month, police started investigating the cases of two missing women.

"On January 1, 2021, the complainant, Kavala Anathaiah, lodged a complaint regarding his wife Kavala Venkatamma (50) found missing since December 30, 2020, at 8 am. The Task Force, North Zone team, Hyderabad City Police started working to trace the missing woman. Later on January 4, 2021, the dead body of Venkatamma was found near railway track," the officer said.

CCTV footage showed the victim boarding an auto-rickshaw with the accused. He took her to an isolated area where he bludgeoned her to death with a boulder and then fled with her valuables. Ramulu was traced and taken into custody Tuesday.

Speaking about the other missing woman, police said the accused took her to an isolated area on Dec.10 and strangled her to death before fleeing the scene with her jewelry.

Police "verified approximately 500 CCTV footages and also verified the modus operandi of the accused person and identified the offender as Ramulu on Jan.26," the officer told ANI.

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