The Kerala Police on Tuesday took three persons into custody after an investigation into the death of two women revealed a suspected case of human sacrifice, The Indian Express reported.

The arrested persons were identified as Mohammed Shafi alias Rashid, a native of Perumbavoor who is suspected to have abducted and brought the women to the home of a couple, Bhagaval Singh and Laila, in Pathanamthitta district’s Thiruvalla, according to The News Minute.

The three accused persons have allegedly confessed to killing the women as part of an occult ritual for financial prosperity.

The two women, Rosily and Padmam, sold lottery tickets for a living in Ernakulam and were abducted three months apart, reported The Hindu. Rosily had been missing since June, while Padmam disappeared on September 26.

The police traced the phones of the two women to Rashid, who was then taken into custody and revealed that they were killed as part of a human sacrifice ritual, reported The News Minute.

District Police Chief (Kochi City) CH Nagaraju said that a team of police has gone to Thiruvalla to investigate the case.

“We suspect that a ritualistic human sacrifice has taken place,” Nagaraju told The Indian Express. “We have to exhume the bodies of the women. The women were beheaded and their bodies were buried at Elanthoor in Pathanamthitta. A few people are in police custody.”

A joint investigation is being carried out in the case by the Kochi City Police, the Ernakulam Rural Police and the Pathanamthitta Police.

Nagaraju said that according to investigations by the police, both the women were killed in the home of Bhagaval Singh and Laila, PTI reported.

“The exact reasons for the murder and when and how the murder was committed would be known only after a detailed probe,” an unidentified police official told The Hindu. “We are treating it as murders for the time being.”

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said that such “black magic and witchcraft rituals” could only be seen as a challenge to civilised society, PTI reported.

“Vigilant investigation of a missing case by the police has led to the unfolding of the twin murder,” he said. “Abducting and killing people for wealth and superstitious beliefs is a crime which is beyond imagination in a state like Kerala.”

The Bharatiya Janata Party’s state chief K Surendren alleged that one of the accused persons was a worker of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and that some radical religious groups were involved in the crime.

He called for a fair investigation into the case.