200 attend candlelight vigil for missing baby

Posted: October 25, 2012

RELATIVES of Saanvi Venna sat, their faces aglow in soft candlelight, as a Hindu priest led them and about 200 supporters in prayer Wednesday night during a vigil at King of Prussia's Heuser Park - an offering made in hopes that baby Saanvi, abducted on Monday, would be brought home safely.

"I think the police are trying everything they can," said Vijaya Reddy, a cousin of 10-month-old Saanvi's father. "I just want her to be returned safe to us."

Saanvi was in her grandmother's care Monday, when someone entered their sixth-floor home in the Marquis Apartments, on Dekalb Pike near Kings Circle, killed the grandmother, Satayvathi Venna, 61, and kidnapped Saanvi. Authorities say that the attack happened between 8 a.m. and 1 p.m. State Police issued an Amber Alert, and the FBI has joined the investigation.

Reddy said that she and her family were overwhelmed by the show of support Wednesday night on Dasara, a festival symbolizing the victory of goodness over evil celebrated in Indian culture.

Since the abduction and murder, the baby's parents have camped out with investigators at the Upper Merion Township municipal building.

Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman emerged from the building briefly Wednesday afternoon to announce a $30,000 reward - offered by the Telugu Association of North America, the Citizens Crime Commission of Delaware Valley, Upper Merion Police and the D.A.'s office - for information leading to Saanvi's safe return.

"This is a very critical search-and-rescue operation, and we are hoping we will be able to find her alive and reunite her with her family," Ferman said.

She noted that investigators have purposely released few details about the crime and have investigated "quietly and privately," for Saanvi's protection.

"We do not want to do anything that would jeopardize the child's safety," Ferman said.

The apartment complex remained an active crime scene on Wednesday. Latex-gloved investigators combed woods around the high-rise, a helicopter buzzed overhead and investigators posted fliers advertising the reward.

The baby's father, Venkata Konda Siva Venna, and mother, Chenchu Latha Punuru, have lived in King of Prussia with Saanvi since June, Ferman said.

Friends said that the couple work as software engineers. None could think of a reason for thugs to target the family.

Satayvathi Venna, Saanvi's paternal grandmother, was visiting from India. The family is from the southern part of India near Hyderabad, friends said.

Tipsters should call Upper Merion police at 610-265-3232 or detectives at 610-278-3368.

Contact Dana DiFilippo at difilid@phillynews.com or 215-854-5934. Follow her on Twitter @DanaDiFilippo. Read her blog at phillyconfidential.com.

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