The Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office, Upper Merion Township Police and the FBI have launched a joint investigation into a homicide in King of Prussia yesterday afternoon and a child abduction that allegedly occurred during the murder.
The body of Sathyavathi Venna, 61, was found shortly after 1:15 p.m. yesterday inside a unit at the Marquis Apartments
on the 200 block of West Dekalb Pike, according
to the Montgomery County Prosecutor’s Office. Her cause of death has not
yet been released, but an autopsy is underway.
Venna was the paternal grandmother of ten-month-old Saanvi Venna, who investigators said was under the woman’s care during the murder and has not been seen since.
Pennsylvania State Police yesterday evening issued an Amber Child
Abduction Alert for the child, who they say was taken some time between 8
a.m. and 1 p.m.
“Right now, we are all devastated,” the father’s cousin Madhukar Sanikommu said today. “We’re hoping that
she’s safe and that’s all I can say at the time. We’re hoping she’s alive and we can see her again.”
Saanvi is described as a two-foot-six-inch-tall Asian-Indian female
of about 21 pounds with black hair and brown eyes. Though the FBI called in its Crisis Negotiations Unit from Quantico, Va., to assist in the investigation, Sanikommu said he was unable to comment on whether the family has received a ransom call. A federal spokesman said that the unit is only providing operational support to local authorities right now.
Investigators scoured the sprawling Marquis Apartments complex, which is sandwiched between a Doubletree Hotel and a cemetery, papering parked cars’ windshields with flyers stamped with the child’s face. A parking lot employee said that this morning, about 20 officials searched every inch of the property, checking beneath piles of leaves and under parked cars. Authorities were pumping out the complex’s swimming pool around 1 p.m. this afternoon.
“If someone finds my baby, could you please, please bring my baby back,”
the child’s father, Venkata Konda Siva Venna, pleaded during a news
conference last night. “Don’t let any harm come to the baby.”
Police said Venna and his wife, Chenchu Latha Punuru, lived together in the apartment. The couple, who both work as software engineers, emigrated from India in February of 2007 and
previously lived in San Antonio, Troy, Mich. and Cleveland before moving to King of Prussia this past June. The child’s grandmother arrived
from India in July to visit and was scheduled to stay in the country until
January of 2013, according to investigators.
Anyone with information about the homicide or the abduction is asked to contact the Upper Merion Township Police Department at 610-265-3232 or the Montgomery County Detective Bureau at 610-278-3368.