In a Philadelpia suburb, family friend Raghunandan “Raghu” Yandamuri attempted to kidnap and hold a baby girl hostage to get $50,000 in ransom money from her software-engineer parents. Instead Yandamuri killed the baby and her grandmother in a botched kidnapping, according to police.
An affidavit released by authorities on Friday stated, the 26-year-old wrote a ransom note to the parents, threatening to kill the child if they did not leave the money at a local supermarket.
“It’s up to you to decide. Do you want your 1-year-old or five months of your income?” the note read.
Yandamuri’s plans unraveled, however, when he dropped the baby as he struggled with her paternal grandmother, while holding the baby and a kitchen knife. According to the affidavit, the grandmother was in the U.S. on a six-month visit from India. She was babysitting 10-month-old Saanvi Venna on Monday, when the incident occurred.
The 61-year-old grandmother Satyavathi Venna, was fatally stabbed and suffered defensive wounds. According to reports, Yandamuri told police he put a handkerchief in the baby’s mouth to keep her quiet. He then wrapped a towel around her head and put her in a suitcase when he left the sixth-floor apartment.
The search for the missing baby stretched through the week, but the parents were never contacted again for money. The ransom note called the infant’s parents by family nicknames, which lead police to focus their investigation on family friends and acquaintances, said Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Ferman.
“We had been hopeful that Saanvi was still alive,” Ferman said. “Tragically, that is not the case.”
Authorities later found baby Saanvi wrapped in a white dress beneath a bench in the apartment complex where Yandamuri and the victims lived.
While being interviewed by police on Thursday, the suspect said he had printed approximately 200 missing-child posters at work and distributed them. He also said he attended a vigil for the baby. But he later acquiesced, revealing the details of the botched crime.
Yandamuri is being held without bail on two counts of murder, kidnapping and robbery. Additional charges will be addressed during a preliminary hearing set next week.