Arnav Uppalapati. (City-County Bureau of Identification photo)

CARY, N.C. – An Indian American teenager has been charged with strangling his mother to death in 2015, according to a Town of Cary news release.

In a case that has puzzled this affluent North Carolina town for more than a year, authorities arrested Arnav Uppalapati, 17, Mar. 16 and charged him with murder in the death of his mother, Nalini Tellaprolu.

Emergency personnel were led to Tellaprolu's body in the garage of her home on Dec. 17, 2015 after Uppalapati had called 911 to say he found her there.

The killing was one of only a handful that year in the town of about 160,000 west of the state capital of Raleigh. Cary's median household income of around $92,000 is double that of North Carolina as a whole.

Authorities say Arnav has been charged as an adult, which is customary for crime suspects age 16 and over in North Carolina. The charge carries a maximum penalty of life in prison.

The News & Observer reports that an autopsy showed that the 51-year-old mother of two was strangled and left in the garage with her body partly in a car.

Even after the arrest, the motive of the crime hasn't been publicly disclosed.

Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman told the newspaper that the son has been a person of interest throughout the investigation, and that there didn't appear to be signs of forced entry into the family's home.

Sixteen at the time of the killing, Uppalapati called 911 and told a dispatcher that he found his mother's body when he got home from school. He told authorities he had last seen her alive the night before.

Family friends told the newspaper they were stunned by the news of the arrest.

“We're shocked as a community,'' Padma Tummala said. “This was not something we expected to hear. She focused all of her energy on her kids.''

Tummala said Tellaprolu spoke fondly of her daughter, Avani, and son, Arnav, and how she would stay up late to make sure Arnav had snacks when he would work late on homework.

Vijay Javvadi, another family friend who expressed shock at the arrest, said he spoke on Mar. 17 to the slain woman's husband, Babu Mahesh Uppalapati.

“I'm pretty sure he's in the same boat as the rest of us,'' Javvadi said. “The way that it has affected us, I can only imagine what he's going through.''

Satish Garimella, a Morrisville Indian American town councilman, said, “It’s very devastating,” adding, “There’s never been an incident where a son has taken the life of his own biological mother.”

According to the News & Observer, Babu Uppalapati was out of state on a business trip at the time of her death, investigators have learned.

--  With AP reports

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