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Nicknames in ransom note led US cops to infant’s killer

Yandamuri told the police he had targeted Venkata Venna,41,and Chenchu Latha Punuru because he believed they had money as both were employed.

Written by Press Trust Of India |
October 28, 2012 12:00:48 am

For $50,000,a software engineer from Andhra Pradesh kidnapped and murdered his family friend’s 10-month-old baby and her grandmother and thought he had it all covered; not realising he had left critical clues — his nicknames — in the ransom note that would lead the police to him.

On Saturday,the police produced Raghunandan Yandamuri,26,in a Pennsylvania court,charging him with kidnapping and killing Saanvi Venna and her grandmother Satyavathi Venna,61,who was found dead at an apartment in Upper Merion Township in Washington,on October 22. Saanvi’s body was found Friday,in the locker room of the apartment’s gymnasium,hidden inside a dark wooden sauna under a deep bench,with blood marks on her white dress. Yandamuri lived in the same apartment; court documents indicate he moved in from San Jose in California.

Yandamuri told the police he had targeted Venkata Venna,41,and Chenchu Latha Punuru because he believed they had money as both were employed. He kidnapped their daughter and left 10 copies of a ransom note,which directed Venkata that “Lata” be asked to deliver $50,000 to the “Baha Fresh” at the ACME store complex. Investigators found “Lata” is a reference to Chenchu and that only some close friends call her with that name.

“The first word in the ransom note is Siva. Venkata told investigators his full name is Venkata Konda Siva Prasad Venna and some of his close friends and family members call him Siva,” the police affidavit said.

The investigators then asked Chenchu and Venkata for a list of people who had knowledge of Siva and Lata names. The names the couple provided included Raghu,who happened to be Yandamuri. He was arrested and,when interrogated,broke down. Saanvi,he said,began to cry when he tried to take her away so he stuffed a handkerchief in her mouth and placed a bath towel around her head. When Satyavathi resisted the kidnapping,he killed her.

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

Yandamuri was back soon,consoling Venkata’s family and organising a Telugu community vigil for Saanvi and distribution of flyers.

The police said Yandamuri told his interrogators to tell the media that his wife turned him in so she could get the $50,000 award the police had announced for information leading to Saanvi.

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