NEW YORK – Have the Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office, New Jersey, failed in their investigation, or given up, in the horrific double homicide of Sasikala Narra, 38, and her six-year-old son Anish Narra?
Reportedly, the FBI was roped in to solve the murder of the duo, found in a pool of blood, their face and hands brutally slashed to pieces, in Maple Shade, on March 23.
But there’s nothing on the FBI website to indicate they are seeking information on the murder case, more than four months after the crime happened.
News India Times called the FBI headquarters in Washington, DC, asking if the FBI has joined the investigation at all, but were re-routed to the Newark, New Jersey field office of the FBI. A call there was not returned. A spokesperson at the headquarters did say that the “FBI may or may not acknowledge that they are part of the investigation.”
Question is, if the FBI is indeed part of the investigation in the double homicide, why this secrecy finding a killer on the loose? Why not involve and seek the help of the public in nabbing the brutal murderer?
Disturbing also is the lackadaisical approach to the case by the local law enforcement in New Jersey, with the Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office maintaining a stock, robotic answer almost from the beginning of the investigation, since they took over the investigation from the Maple Shade Police Department.
“This remains an ongoing and very active investigation, and because of our obligation to maintain the integrity of our efforts, there are many components of this case that cannot be discussed publicly at this time,” Joel Bewley, prosecutor’s office spokesman, told Philly.com, last week. “However, I can say that we still do not believe that members of this family were targeted because of their Indian heritage,” he added.
It’s an answer Bewley has previously given to News India Times, too.
Question is, if the Prosecutor’s office is so sure that this is not a race or hate-related crime, then why not divulge the reasoning behind that statement: what led them to reach that conclusion? Do they think the murderer is of Indian-origin? Is there a task force set up to investigate the case?
The details of the case are gruesome, to say the least.
It’s perhaps the most vicious murder ever to happen in the Indian American community in the US. The closest case to the same viciousness or heartlessness, if you want to call it that, is that of Raghunandan Yandamuri, a software professional who was sentenced to death for the October, 2012 slayings of 10-month-old Saanvi Venna and her grandmother, Satayrathi Venna, 61. The victims were Yandamuri’s neighbors, in the suburbs of Philadelphia; he knew the family well. He killed them after a kidnapping attempt for ransom to pay off his gambling debts went awry.
On March 23rd, Hanumantha Rao Narra, a software professional working for Cognizant, found the bodies of his wife Sasikala Narra, who worked for Cognizant, too, and their son, Anish Narra, when he returned home at night after an office party, around 9 p.m., at Fox Meadow Apartments, Maple Shade.
Sasikala had picked up Anish from his school, Our Lady of Perpetual Help School, and they had gone back home. They were murdered sometime after that.
The force and nature of the attack was so brutal and ferocious, that funeral house personnel who got the two bodies from the New Jersey Medical Examiner’s office on Saturday, March 25, after the autopsy was done, took over six-and-a-half hours reconstructing the bodies; tried to make mother and son look a semblance of what they were once were, a source revealed to News India Times.
Details emerged that the marriage of Sasikala and Hanumantha had broken down, with the latter allegedly having an affair with another woman. Sasikala was aware of her husband’s doings, wanted to end her marriage.
Family members of Sasikala alleged that Hanumantha had plotted the murder. Despite being questioned by the Maple Shade Police Department police several times, Hanumantha was never charged. He was even given permission to travel for the funeral of his wife and son, in India. It’s not known whether he traveled or not.
Details also emerged that there was no break-in to the apartment where the murders took place, according to a neighbor. With no details being officially divulged, the community has been rife with rumors, including conspiracy theories: that this was a crime of passion, a contract killer was used, that it doesn’t seem to be the handiwork of an amateur vagabond or a burglary gone bad. If so, there would have been plenty of evidence left behind, a suspect named, by now.
It’s also disturbing that since the onset of this case, only the Telugu Association of North America (TANA), seems to be the one organization who have taken active interest in the case, prodded the authorities for more aggressive investigation, helped raise money for sending the bodies back to India, because the victims were of Telugu-origin.
Where are all the other big Indian American organizations when the community needs them to be the voice of the community? Why can’t the big organizations come together and meet the governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie, urge him to take action in the case, speed up the investigation, demand answers from him?
The former president of TANA, Mohan Nannapaneni, who attended the joint funeral in early April for Sasikala Narra and Anish Narra, told Philly.com that he worries that authorities have given up on the murder case.
“I’m very surprised. The whole community is in shock that the investigation is taking so long,” he said.
It’s not just authorities in New Jersey, who have been too quick to rule out a death as not a race or hate-crime related one; try to offset interest in the case.
After the body of 20-year-old Aalaap Narasipura – a senior at Cornell University who was set to graduate in December of this year with a bachelor’s in electrical engineering, with a passion for photography – was found by scuba divers from a body of water known as Fall Creek, near Ithaca Falls, New York, on May 19, two days after he went missing, the Cornell University Police Department released a statement the same day, saying that investigation is on, but they don’t suspect any “foul play”.
What led to the police issuing a statement tantamount to the fact that Narasipura’s death is not a case of murder or an egregious crime?
It’s a question perhaps that will never be answered. There were no reports of a suicide note.
Perhaps, we will never get answers to the deaths of Sasikala Narra, Anish Narra, and Aalaap Narasipura, just like we are still seeking an answer to the disappearance of Sneha Anne Philip, an Indian American physician who has never been found since the morning of September 11, 2001.
Though her body or remains have never been found, officially she was ruled as a victim of the 9/11 attacks, in New York City, though there is evidence to suggest that perhaps there’s more to it than the final conclusion by a court.
Philip’s marriage had broken down; she was reportedly having multiple affairs, was struggling at work with substance abuse issues, had a run-in with law enforcement. She also reportedly stayed out sometimes all-night, going out with new people she met. The night before her disappearance, hours before the 9/11 attacks, she stayed out too, according to her husband, Ron Lieberman.
Was Sneha Ann Philip murdered? Perhaps, the answer to that, unless her remains are found, will always remain a mystery.
For now, the FBI has an Indian American in their Top 10 Wanted List: Bhadreshkumar Chetanbhai Patel, who’s on the lam for killing his wife while they were both working at a donut shop in Hanover, Maryland, on April 12, 2015.