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Second Suspect Arrested After N.J. Pharma CEO Was Followed Home from a Casino and Killed While His Family Slept

Devon Melchor appears in a mugshot

Devon Melchor appears in a mugshot, Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office

A New Jersey father of two and pharmaceutical company executive was followed home from a casino and murdered while his family slept. Now, police have a second suspect in custody.

According to the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office, Sree Ranga Aravapalli sustained multiple gunshot wounds during an attempted robbery on Oct. 26 over some $10,000 in gambling winnings.

Aravapalli’s obituary says he was 53 years old.

Authorities announced the arrest of Jekai Reid-John, 27, in connection with the crime in late October. The first defendant was detained in Pennsylvania last week and scheduled for extradition to New Jersey on one count of murder in the first degree.

Jekai Reid-John

Jekai Reid-John via via NBC New York screengrab

Reid-John now has a co-defendant in the shocking crime, according to New York City-based NBC flagship station WNBC.

Devon Melchor, 26, was arrested in Florida by U.S. Marshals on Thursday while he was allegedly trying to board an international flight.

Both of the defendants reportedly hail from Pennsylvania and neither are believed to have known the victim prior to the crime, authorities say.

Aravapalli was a client at the Parx Casino in Bensalem Township, Pa. last Thursday, according to The Morning Call. Authorities allege that surveillance footage showed two men nearby the eventual victim on the night in question. Additionally, one of those men allegedly used a debit card issued to Reid-John at the casino that same night.

casino sree ranga aravapalli left before he was murdered

Prosecutors said the pair could be seen keeping tabs on Aravapalli as he cashed out his winnings. The defendants then allegedly followed him 50 miles back to his affluent neighborhood of Plainsboro in New Jersey. Another surveillance camera, this time from a farm stand near the victim’s residence, allegedly showed the two suspects in their car tailing close behind.

Just after 3 a.m., according to authorities, the robbers found their target. Prosecutors allege that Reid-John broke into the home by way of a sliding door in the back. Soon thereafter, while Aravapalli’s wife and daughter were asleep upstairs, gunshots rang out.

Aravapalli, who was still downstairs, was shot and killed. A neighbor told authorities they heard the squeal of tires peeling away from the vicinity of the crime. The same farm stand surveillance camera later caught only one car making the return route, police claim.

Authorities responded to a call of shots fired around 3:40 a.m. The victim was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital.

Melchor faces one count of armed robbery in the first degree and one count of conspiracy to commit armed robbery in the second degree over his alleged role in the stickup job gone horribly awry.

Aravapalli, the CEO of Aurex Laboratories, was mourned by friends, family and community members outside of a South Brunswick mausoleum. The victim’s obituary says he went by Ranga:

It is with great sadness that the Aravapalli Family announces the passing of their beloved Ranga Aravapalli.
Ranga Aravapalli, 53, of Plainsboro, NJ, passed away on Tuesday, October 26, 2021. We pray to God for his departed soul to rest in eternal peace and give strength to the family members to bear the loss of their beloved Ranga.

“In the daytime, you can at least figure out that somebody is following you,” Vivek Taneja, a mourner, told WNBC. “But at night, no, never. I’ve been to Vegas, Atlantic City, but no, I never thought that somebody would follow me. I think I need to be watchful all the time, not just at casinos.”

In a statement provided to local Fox affiliate WTXF, the casino said they were “saddened” to hear that a customer was targeted and killed after their visit. Authorities have been mum as to whether the two defendants actually made off with any of the money.

[Image of casino via ABC 6 screengrab]

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