A 17-year-old Indian-American high-schooler has been arrested for matricide – accused of killing his mother – in a rare case that is seen as an aberration in an ethnic community that boasts of close family bonding and high academic achievement.
Police in Cary, North Carolina, arrested Arnav Uppalapati, 17, more than a year after his mother Nalini Tellaprolu, 51, was strangled to death at their upscale home in Wake County district where the deceased worked at the Duke Medical Center.
Authorities would not discuss a motive, nor would they say what evidence led investigators to the teenager, but throughout the year-old investigation they had maintained he was a person of interest in the case.
Arnav Uppalapati was only 16 when he called 911 on the afternoon of December 17, 2015, and told an emergency dispatcher that he had arrived home from school and found his mother lying dead on the garage floor of their home. His father, who was away on a business trip, had been trying to reach her over the phone all day without success and had asked him go home from school and check on her.
When police arrived at their home, they found Arnav’s mother had been strangled with a plastic bag over her head. Her feet were in the back seat of a car.
The teenager told the police he had last seen his mother alive the night before at about 10:30 pm when the two of them ate dinner together. He then went upstairs to do his homework and later went to bed.
He said he woke up the next morning at about 6:50 am, ate breakfast and left for school at 7 am without seeing her, before he returned home at 3.20 pm to check on her on instruction from his father, Babu Uppalapati.
The medical examiner’s office, which found Nalini’s body covered with bruises and scratches, and a fractured cartilage in the neck, ruled the death a homicide. Over the past year, police scoured over the home, it’s home alarm system, and the 2013 Honda Civic she drove. There found no sign of forcible entry, and the home alarm system which Nalini switched on meticulously every night was not activated on the night of her death.