Saanvi Venna's Body Found
The 10-month-old had been missing since Monday. A family friend has been charged in the murders of the child and her grandmother, who reportedly attacked the would-be kidnapper as he tried to take her granddaughter.
The body of Saanvi Venna, the 10-month-old girl who disappeared from the Marquis Apartments in King of Prussia on Monday following the murder of her grandmother, was found at about 4:30 a.m. Friday in a sauna room inside the apartment complex, Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Ferman said.
Raghunandan Yandamuri, 26, described by Ferman as a friend of the Venna family, has been charged in the murders of Saanvi and Satyavathi Venna. Ferman said Yandamuri told authorities that he intended to kidnap the child and hold her for $50,000 ransom.
See this article's photo section to see a copy of the ransom note.
"He believed the family was of sufficient means to pay that ransom," Ferman said.
As he was leaving the scene of the elder Venna's murder, Ferman said, Yandamuri "suffocated" the baby with a handkerchief and placed her in a suitcase, later disposing of the body.
The chillingly detailed ransom note allegedly left by Yandamuri threatened that Saanvi would be "cut into pieces" and have her body parts "thrown into your apartments" if the family informed anyone of the abduction.
Ferman said that Yandamuri also lived at the Marquis apartments and had known the Venna family "socially" since the summer.
Ferman said authorities believe that Yandamuri did not initially intend to kill the victims and that he had appeared as a support figure for the family in the days since the killing, going so far as to post "missing" fliers for Saanvi Venna.
Suspect said grandmother attacked him as he attempted to take baby
According to an affidavit filed by Upper Merion Det. Andrew Rathfon and Montgomery County Det. Paul Bradbury, the use of the Indian diminutives "shiva" and "lata" in the ransom note helped lead authorities to believe that the note's author was someone familiar with the family.
Authorities first interviewed Yandamuri on Thursday, the day after he attended a vigil held in support of the family. He initially denied being involved in the killings but later admitted to them, the affidavit states.
According to the detectives, Yandamuri said he went to work on Monday and used his work computer to prepare the ransom note. He reportedly told the detectives that he arrived at the apartment at about 11 a.m. Monday, armed with a four-inch kitchen knife.
Satyavathi Venna answered the door. She initially retreated when threatened with the knife, but then "came at" Yandamuri after he picked up the baby. During the ensuing struggle, Saanvi fell from his grip and he fell on top of her. It was then that the elder Venna was wounded in the throat, Yandamuri allegedly told detectives.
When Saanvi began crying, Yandamuri allegedly said, he "stuffed" a handkerchief in her mouth to make her stop, and wrapped a bath towel around her head to hold the handkerchief in place. He then described placing her inside a suitcase he found inside the apartment before disposing of her body in the steam room of the men's bathroom inside the apartment complex's gymnasium.
Wanted wife to receive reward for "turning him in"
A $30,000 reward for information leading to Saanvi Venna's safe return was posted on Wednesday. It was later increased to $50,000.
According to the detectives' affidavit, Yandamuri allegedly asked the detectives to tell the media that his wife "turned him in" so that she could receive the reward money.
Yandamuri is being charged with first-degree murder, second-degree murder, kidnapping, burglary, robbery, abuse of corpse, and other offenses.