NEW YORK: A software engineer from India, Sasikala Narra, 38, and her son Anish Narra, 6, were found brutally murdered with multiple stab wounds inside their apartment at Fox Meadows in Maple Shade, New Jersey, shortly after 9 p.m., Thursday, the Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office said. The motive was yet to be established and authorities are investigating the double homicide.
The Cherry Hill Courier Post reported the duo suffered multiple stab wounds, according to Burlington County Prosecutor Robert D. Bernardi and Maple Shade Police Chief Gary C. Gubbei.
Officials said the woman’s husband made the gruesome discovery Thursday night. Reports from India said the husband and father’s name is N Hanumantha Rao, a software engineer.
An autopsy will be performed. No arrests have been made, officials said.
Bernardi disputed some media claims that mother and son were victims of a hate crime “connected to the fact that the victims are of Indian origin.”
No motive in the murders was identified, reported NBC 10 Philadelphia.
The case is being investigated by detectives from Maple Shade and the Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crimes Unit and Crime Scene Unit.
CBS Philly reported people living in the complex say a man had run from one of the apartments, screaming repeatedly, “My wife is gone, my wife is gone.”
People who live in the surrounding apartments are struggling to understand how this could’ve happened. Most say they did not hear or see anything out of the ordinary.
“I didn’t see any damage to the door or any break-ins of that type, so right now this is a mystery,” said neighbor Dexter Stevenson, reported CBS Philly.
Indian agency reports said Rao works in CTS and has been living in New Jersey for nine years. Sasikala used to work from home. The family immigrated to the US from Andhra Pradesh.
Y Sambasiva Rao, a member of Andhra Pradesh state legislative assembly from Prakasam district, spoke to representatives of Telugu Association of North America (TANA) over phone about the incident. According to him, the mother and her son were strangulated to death, reported ANI.
In an interview to ANI, Sasikala’s mother in Vijayawada, Krishna Kumari, expressed the suspicion that the murders were the result of her son-in-law’s affair.
“We suspect that they have been murdered following an affair of my son-in-law with another woman there”, ANI tweeted the mother of the deceased as saying.
Indian American community leader Prasad Thotakura claimed that Rao allegedly found his wife and child “in a pool of blood” and “with their throats slit”.
IANS reported Sasikala picked up her son from school last afternoon before they headed home.
NDTV reported the report of the deaths was raised in the Indian Parliament on Friday.
“This is a serious matter. This very dangerous. Just two weeks back, two Indians were killed and now two more people have been killed. Prime Minister Narendra Modi must take (it) up with the President of America,” said Congress Rajya Sabha member T Subbarami Reddy.
Deputy Chairman PJ Kurien asked for Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj to be alerted to the killing.
In the Lok Sabha, YV Subba Reddy of the YSR Congress Party asked the government to take a “very strong stand” in protecting Indians in the US.
“It’s a case of racial discrimination” and such incidents were on the rise since Donald Trump became the US President. It is high time we take up these issues strongly with the US,” he added.
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu tweeted his condolences.
“Pained to hear about the killing of Sasikala & son Sai in New Jersey, US. My condolences to the family members,” he tweeted.
Telugu Desam Party General Secretary and MLC Nara Lokesh too expressed grief on Twitter, posting, “Saddened to learn about the killing of Sasikala and her son in New Jersey, US. Strongly condemn such acts of violence.”
While it remains to be determined how the deaths in New Jersey occurred, what’s a fact is that more than 30 tech professional and students from the two Telugu states of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh have died since 2008, victims of crime or accidents.
The well-publicized death of aeronautical engineer Srinivas Kuchibhotla, 32, who was shot dead by a Navy veteran Adam Purinton, in Olathe, Kansas, on February 23, has spurred several states in the US to tackle the rising trend of hate crimes. Kuchibhotla was on an H-1B visa from Hyderabad.
In February, Vamshi Reddy Mamidala, a software engineer from Telangana, was shot dead in Milpitas, California, on February 10 in a garage in his apartment building.
(This post was updated on March 24, 2017)