24 Mar

asikala Narra and son Anish Narra were found dead inside their apartment in Maple Shade, NJ, near Philadelphia.

Screen Capture (Courtesy of 6abc.com)

(Editor’s note: This post has been updated.)

The Maple Shade Police Department says the killing of Indian American Sasikala Narra (38) and her son Anish Narra (6) is not a hate crime.

“I would like to emphasize that this doesn’t appear at all to be a hate crime, or bias crime based on the fact that [the victims] are of Indian origin,” Joel Bewley, a spokesman for the Burlington County, N.J., Prosecutor’s Office, told The American Bazaar via phone.

The deaths are being investigated as homicides, and no arrests have been made so far, a press release issued by the Burlington County, N.J., Prosecutor’s Office said.

The mother and child were killed inside their residence at the Fox Meadow Apartments in Maple Shade, in suburban Philadelphia.

Maple Shade is just a 20-minute (12-mile) drive from Philadelphia. It is 85 miles to the southwest of New York City.

The Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office said officers were called to the residence on Thursday shortly after 9 pm by Narra’s husband, “after he found the bodies of his wife and son.”

Narra’s husband, Hanumantha Rao Narra, is a software professional and the two moved to the United States nine years ago from the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, according to the Indian media.

“The preliminary investigation revealed that both victims were stabbed multiple times,” a statement from Burlington County Prosecutor Robert D. Bernardi and Maple Shade said.

The investigation is being led by detectives from the Maple Shade Police Department and the Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crimes Unit and Crime Scene Unit, the release said.

Burlington County Medical Examiner Dr. Ian Hood is scheduled to perform autopsies today.

The killings of software engineer Srinivas Kuchibhotla,  in Olathe, Kansas, and convenient store owner Harnish Patel in Lancaster, South Carolina, and an attack on a Sikh American in Kent, Washington — all within the past five weeks — have increased concerns within the Indian American community about hate crime.

“Contrary to some media reports, at this point there is no indication that this is a hate crime connected to the fact that the victims are of Indian origin,” the Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office said in the release.

Asked about an allegation leveled by the victim’s mother that her son-in-law had an affair, Bewley said: “I can’t control what the family says. I don’t have any details concerning those allegations.”

The spokesman added: “There are certain details we can’t divulge because we are trying to catch the culprit (at the moment).”

Correction: A previous version of this story wrongly identified Joel Bewley as a spokesman for the Maple Shade Police Department. He is a spokesman for Burlington County, N.J., Prosecutor’s Office.