Two years after his wife and 6-year-old son were stabbed to death in their Maple Shade apartment, a South Jersey man is fighting to collect $1 million in life insurance on the victims.
Late on March 23, 2017, Hanumantha Rao Narra told police on a 911 call that he had "just come from the office" to find his family dead at home.
Forty-six days after the slayings, Narra sought to collect on two life insurance policies, each worth about $500,000. But Prudential Financial Co. has refused to pay him.
Police have made no arrests in the deaths of Sasikala Narra, 38, and the couple's son, Anish, who lived in the Fox Meadow apartment complex. The investigation is continuing, said Joel Bewley, spokesperson for the Burlington County Prosecutor's Office.
For that reason, the insurance company has declined to pay Narra's claim. Prudential's lawyers have cited New Jersey's slayer statute, which prevents anyone responsible for a death from benefiting financially.
While police have not identified Narra as a suspect in the crime, lawyers for the insurance company say the pending investigation does not foreclose that he may have been involved, according to court records.
Lawyers for Prudential filed a civil suit in federal court in Newark, N.J., and a judge ordered the $1,031,692 in insurance money to be held in escrow with the court.
Prudential lawyer Joyce Min and a company spokesperson declined to comment.
Narra's lawyer, Jack Venturi, also declined to comment. Narra, who now lives in Englewood, Colo., could not be reached.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Cathy Waldor appointed Sasikala Narra's parents, who live in India, to represent the interests of the estate. They also could not be reached for comment.
Legal experts say such insurance disputes are not unusual. Because a murder investigation is ongoing and no one has been publicly eliminated as a suspect, Prudential could view paying the claim as a financial risk, said Matthew Pulle, a lawyer who specializes in insurance and estate matters.
"Insurance companies are normally proactive about it," he said. "They usually immediately file suit and deposit the funds into court" to protect themselves from a lawsuit. If an insurance company were to pay a claim, only to have the beneficiary charged in the crime, he said, the company could be on the hook for paying the claim a second time.
The Narras both worked for Cognizant, a technology services company. Sasikala's annual salary was $94,000 and her net worth was $750,000, according to court documents. According to Indian news sites, the couple hailed from the Prakasam district in Andhra Pradesh state, on India's eastern coast.
The FBI is offering a $25,000 reward for information leading to an arrest.
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