On Oct. 22, Satayrathi Venna, 61, was found on the kitchen floor of her son's King of Prussia apartment in a pool of blood from a gaping wound in her neck. She died trying to defend her grandchild.
After the child's disappearance, Yandamuri, who was known to the family, made 200 missing-child posters of Saanvi and attended a candlelight vigil.
The baby's body was found clothed in a white dress and lying on the wooden slats of a seldom-used sauna in the apartment building, amid empty beer bottles, cast-off clothing, and discarded potato chip bags.
At the preliminary hearing in Bridgeport, Yandamuri, wearing navy-blue prison scrubs under a bulletproof vest, sat quietly between his attorneys. Steele presented a 23-minute video interview showing Yandamuri and detectives reenacting the death scene, with Upper Merion Detective Andrew Rathfon in the role of the grandmother.
Yandamuri held a fake knife to the side of Rathfon's neck and cupped his left arm as if holding the child. He explained how Saanvi slid from his grip onto the floor. Yandamuri then feigned a slip backward, drawing the blade against Rathfon's neck as he pretended to fall on the child.
"Immediately the grandmother collapsed, and I don't know what to do," he said.
Yandamuri recounted how he put a handkerchief in the child's mouth and wrapped a towel around her head to silence her crying.
Yandamuri put the baby in a large blue suitcase along with a bag of jewelry, the murder weapon, and his black hoodie, and left the building. He entered the apartment's on-site gymnasium through a low window and went to the steam room, where he splashed water on Saanvi's face.
"This was unexpected," Yandamuri said of the unresponsive baby.
He left Saanvi, returned to his apartment, showered, dressed, disposed of the evidence, and then went to GSI Commerce, where he worked as a software engineer. He hid the bag of gold jewelry behind a Coke machine in the company's break room.
Later that day, Yandamuri said, he brought a bottle of milk to feed Saanvi and found her dead.
Yandamuri lived in the same Marquis Apartment complex and knew the parents by their nicknames - a clue that led investigators to interview him.
"I'm really sorry for what happened," Yandamuri said on the taped interview. "This is not a small mistake."
Defense attorney Stephen Heckman argued that the first-degree murder charges should be dropped since there was no "specific intent to kill."
After the hearing, Steele called the case incredibly vicious.
"It is one of those cases," he said, "that haunts you."
Contact Mari A. Schaefer
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