Parx Patron Targeted for Abduction After Driving Home From Casino; Second Incident Within Three Weeks at Parx

Written By Kevin Shelly on November 15, 2021

At Parx Casino, Pennsylvania State Police will now be wearing uniforms instead of plainclothes after two recent incidents.

Sree Ranga Aravapalli cashed out about $10,000 in winnings from Parx Casino and was followed over fifty miles from the Bucks County casino to his Plainsboro, New Jersey home by Jekai Reid-John. Reid-John then shot and killed Aravapalli in the early morning of Oct. 26.

On Nov. 15, a Philadelphia man was abducted and tied up in his basement after returning home from Parx Casino.

According to Pennsylvania State Police spokesperson Corporal Brent Miller, Pennsylvania State police switching from plainclothes to uniforms is a rare step and meant to add a “deterrence.”

However, casinos patrons being targeted isn’t anything new, noted Miller who mentioned previous incidents in Las Vegas and Atlantic City.

State Police Bureau of Gaming Enforcement personnel remain in plainclothes at all other Pennsylvania casinos.

Many overlapping jurisdictions

The cross-jurisdictional nature of the crimes means complex responsibilities.

At Parx, State Police jurisdiction ends at the door, explained Miller. The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board has no policing power. Local Bensalem Township Police oversee Parx’s parking lot, restaurants and surrounding roads. In addition, Parx has security personnel.

Local police departments in Plainsboro, NJ and Philadelphia are the law enforcement agencies where the crimes concluded.

Man abducted and robbed after returning from Parx

In the most recent incident according to 6ABC, a Northeast Philadelphia man arrived home from Parx around 1 a.m. early Sunday morning. He was abducted from in front of his home, tied up in a U-Haul van and then a basement, robbed and threatened by four men. The incident happened around 1 a.m on Sunday. The victim told police suspects stole a gun, credit cards, shoes and keys.

October murder plot began at Parx

Around 3:30 a.m. on Oct. 26, police responded to a “shots fired” report at a home on Briardale Court in Plainsboro Township, near Princeton. Aravapalli, shot multiple times, died at a nearby hospital. He had served as the CEO of Aurex Laboratories, a pharma company headquartered in East Windsor, N.J.

Devon Melchor of Upper Darby, and Jekai Reid-John, of Norristown now face murder charges. The two men targeted the victim due to his casino play, according to Plainsboro Police Chief Fred Tavener and Middlesex County Prosecutor Yolanda Ciccone.

Eric Hausler, the CEO of Parx, had previously expressed sympathy for the slain man’s family and cooperation with authorities.

Safety tips to remember at a casino

Foremost, Miller said players should remain aware of their surroundings. He said that’s especially true of a place such as Parx, which he described as “large and busy.”

That includes driving away from a casino, said Miller.

If you were followed:

  • Do not stop at your home
  • Drive on by, circle back

Still think you were followed?

  • Drive to a police station
  • Call the cops from the car
  • Or call 911 from the car

Lead photo by Katie Kohler

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Written by
Kevin Shelly

Kevin C. Shelly is an award-winning career journalist who has spent most of his career in South Jersey. He's the former assistant city editor of The Press of Atlantic City, where he covered the casino industry and Atlantic City government as a reporter. He was also an investigative, narrative enterprise, and features reporter for Gannett’s Courier-Post.

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