A $25,000 reward has been offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of persons involved in the murder of Indian American software engineer Sasikala Narra and her six-year-old son, Anish, who were found dead in their Maple Shade, New Jersey, apartment on March 23.
Narra, 38, and Anish were found slain in the bedroom of their home by Narra’s husband, Hanumantha Rao. Both mother and son had been stabbed multiple times, Joel Bewley, spokesman for the Burlington County, New Jersey Prosecutor’s Office, told India-West.
“We’re hoping that this reward would be an incentive for someone to come forward with information,” said Bewley, noting that the investigation was “very active and ongoing.” Police have been going door to door in the community where Narra and her husband Hanumantha Rao lived with their son, passing out flyers offering the reward printed in Hindi, Telugu, Spanish, and English.
Bewley thanked the Indian Cultural Center in Evesham, New Jersey, for helping to translate the flyers into Hindi and Telugu.
Rao found the bodies of his wife and son on the evening of the murder, and called 911. He told dispatchers he did not know what had happened, as he had just returned home after “happy hour” after work with some of his co-workers from Cognizant.
Questioned by detectives, Rao said he could not remember whether he had used his key to get into the apartment, a key question in the case which would determine whether there was breaking and entering into the apartment.
In the 911 call released by Maple Shade police, an unidentified woman’s voice can be heard in the background. When the 911 dispatcher asked Rao if he could perform CPR on his wife and child, the woman screamed: “No you can’t. Their throats are slit.”
She can also be heard on the recording telling Rao: “Don’t go back in there.”
Rao was believed to have been having an affair with Deepa Ajit, who also works at Cognizant’s office in India. Narra had allegedly confronted her husband about Ajit: Rao allegedly told his wife there was no harm in an extramarital affair.
Bewley told India-West he could not state whether Rao and Ajit were under investigation. He also could not state whether there was any new information on how Rao entered the apartment that night or whether Ajit was in the U.S. at the time, saying the release of such information would compromise the integrity of the investigation.
Both Rao and Ajit were questioned by police after Sasikala and Anish’s bodies were found. The Telugu Association of North America raised funds to have their bodies returned to Vijayawada for the final rites.
Rao did not attend the funeral of his wife and son, though his passport had not been confiscated (see earlier India-West story here).