National

Four members of California family found dead two days after abduction

The discovery of the bodies came after a baby, her parents and her uncle were kidnapped Monday from the family’s trucking business in Merced, California.

Images are displayed of 8-month-old Aroohi Dheri, left, with her mother Jasleen Kaur, her father Jasdeep Singh, and her uncle Amandeep Singh, at a news conference in Merced, Calif., on Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2022. Andrew Kuhn/The Merced Sun-Star via AP


Four members of a family, including a baby, were found dead Wednesday, two days after they were kidnapped in the Central Valley of California, authorities said.

“Our worst fears have been confirmed,” the Merced County sheriff, Vernon H. Warnke, told reporters Wednesday night.

The discovery of the bodies came after a baby, her parents and her uncle were kidnapped Monday from the family’s trucking business in Merced, California, about 115 miles southeast of Sacramento, according to the sheriff’s office.

The sheriff’s office said that surveillance footage outside the business showed an armed man forcing members of the family into a truck, two of them with their hands apparently zip-tied behind their backs.

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The police identified the family members as 8-month-old Aroohi Dheri; her mother, Jasleen Kaur, 27; her father, Jasdeep Singh, 36; and the baby’s uncle, Amandeep Singh, 39.

The authorities said earlier Wednesday that they were hoping to question Jesus Manuel Salgado, 48, who had been named as a person of interest in the investigation and was taken into custody Tuesday after he attempted suicide at a home in Atwater, California, about 8 miles northwest of Merced.

This undated image released by California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation shows Jesus Salgado. – California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation via AP

Salgado had attempted suicide before he was contacted by law enforcement officials, and was sedated at a hospital, Warnke said at a news conference earlier Wednesday.

“The family had told our suspect that they had in fact contacted law enforcement because of what he had told them,” Warnke said. “And rather than talk to law enforcement, he attempted to take his own life.”

The authorities did not provide additional information on Salgado’s relationship with the family or what he had told them. Investigators were eager to question him, but “every time he’s come near consciousness, he’s become violent,” Warnke said.

He said authorities had not determined a motive for the kidnapping.

Salgado had been convicted of a robbery in 2005 that involved a firearm and false imprisonment, when someone is held against their will in one place, Warnke said. The police had not had “any major contact” with Salgado since he was paroled in 2015, Warnke said.

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Salgado was taken into custody after detectives received information Tuesday that one of the victim’s ATM cards had been used at a bank in Atwater.

Investigators obtained a surveillance photo of a person making a bank transaction who was similar in appearance to a person seen in a surveillance photo at the trucking business where the family was kidnapped.

The sheriff said that the police had not identified any accomplices, but he thought it was possible that at least one other person might have been involved.

Merced County Sheriff Vern Warnke, foreground, speaks at a news conference about the kidnapping of 8-month-old Aroohi Dheri, her mother Jasleen Kaur, her father Jasdeep Singh, and her uncle Amandeep Singh, in Merced, Calif., on Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2022. – Andrew Kuhn/The Merced Sun-Star via AP

The family had been reported missing after Amandeep Singh’s truck was found on fire in Winton, California, about 13 miles north of Merced, on Monday morning, the sheriff’s office said.

The police attempted to contact Singh, but were not able to speak to him and spoke with a family member instead. That family member tried unsuccessfully to contact Singh and other family members, the police said.

On Monday afternoon, detectives determined that the four family members had been kidnapped.

Surveillance footage from outside the family’s trucking business showed Jasdeep Singh and Amandeep Singh leaving the building, their hands apparently zip-tied, as a man with a gun leads them to the back seat of a pickup truck, authorities said.

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The truck drives away with them inside, then returns six minutes later, according to the security footage. The sheriff’s office said that the same man goes back into the business, then leaves with Kaur and the baby.

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.

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