Nicknames used in the ransom note by the 26-year-old software engineer who kidnapped and killed 10-month-old Saanvi Venna gave the police critical clues to help nab him, according to court documents. For $50,000, a 26-year-old software engineer from Andhra Pradesh kidnapped and killed his family friend’s 10-month-old baby Saanvi, whose body he stuffed in a suitcase, but nicknames used by him in the ransom note provided critical clues that helped police nab him.

Raghunandan Yandamuri was arrested on charges of kidnapping and killing Saanvi Venna and her 61-year-old grandmother Satyavathi Venna, who was found dead at an apartment complex in Upper Merion Township on October 22.

Produced in court

Raghunandan, who used to live in the same complex, was produced before a Pennsylvania court after police recovered the body of Saanvi on Friday from the men’s locker room of his apartment’s gymnasium in the King of Prussia, hidden inside a dark wooden sauna under a deep bench, with blood marks on her white dress. Court documents indicate that Yandamuri moved to King of Prussia, in Upper Merlon Township of Pennsylvania from San Jose in California. Being held without a bail, he does not have a lawyer.

He told the detectives that he targeted the apartment of Venkata Venna, 41, and Chenchu Latha Punuru because he believed they had money as they both were employed.

Notes did him in

The 10 copies of the ransom note demanding $50,000 that he had left in the apartment at the time of the incident led to his arrest. The ransom note asked Venkata Venna that “Lata” be asked to deliver $50,000 at the ACME store complex. Investigators determined “Lata” is a reference to Venkata Venna’s wife as only some close friends call her by that name. “The first word in the ransom note is ‘Shiva’. During the interview Venkata Venna told the investigators that his full name is Venkata Konda Siva Prasad Venna, and some of his close friends and family members call him ‘Siva’,” the affidavit said.

Both Chenchu Latha and Venkata were asked to provide a list of people who had knowledge of the ‘Siva’ and ‘Lata’ names. Each provided a list of Indian natives who either used or were aware of these nicknames, Among the names provided by the couple was the name of ‘Raghu,’ who happened to be Raghunandan Yandamuri.

According Raghunandan alias Raghu, he killed Satyavathi as she resisted the kidnapping of Saanvi.

Raghu told the police that Saanvi began to cry and he stuffed a handkerchief in her mouth to make her stop crying and placed a bath towel around her head to hold the handkerchief in place.

“He then put her inside a blue suitcase he found in the bedroom, took jewellery he found in the apartment and placed that in the suitcase with Saanvi, then left the apartment and abandoned Saanvi’s body hidden in the steam room of the men’s bathroom of the gymnasium located inside marquis apartment building,” the affidavit said. — PTI

Guntur Staff Reporter adds:

Investigators in Philadelphia reportedly indicated to the kin of Saanvi that Raghu could have walked into their trap. Family sources said that Raghu had responded to the announcement of a reward of $50,000 by the Citizens' Crime Commission of Delaware Valley, the Upper Merion Township Police Department, and the Telugu Association of North America (TANA).

He initially tried to mislead the investigators by distributing copies of look out notices of the baby and even took part in the candlelight vigil organised by TANA.

“We understand that the investigators may have zeroed on the culprit during the candlelight vigil. He simply walked into the hands of the investigators,” said a family source.

Even as the family is struggling to come to terms with the tragedy, information that the accused, Raghu, may have known Venkat Siva Venna and Latha, parents of Saanvi, in the US, for one year, has left the family shocked. He was even invited to dinner a couple of times but never showed signs that he would do any harm.