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Kidnapped Family Of Four Found Dead In Rural California Almond Orchard
The days-long and frantic search for four family members – Jasleen Kaur, 27, her husband Jasdeep Singh, 36, their infant daughter, Aroohi Dheri, and Singh’s brother, Amandeep Singh, 39, has come to a tragic end.
The search for four family members kidnapped from a California business has come to a tragic end.
Authorities with the Merced County Sheriff’s Office began a massive search on Monday after four relatives were taken at gunpoint from a South Merced area business in broad daylight. On Wednesday night, Merced County Sheriff Vern Warnke held a press conference not far from the scene, announcing that all four victims – including an 8-month-old baby – were found dead in an “extremely remote” area of Merced County.
The victims have been identified as married couple Jasleen Kaur, 27, and Jasdeep Singh, 36, their infant daughter, Aroohi Dheri, and Singh’s brother, Amandeep Singh, 39.
“Tonight, our worst fears have been confirmed,” Warnke told reporters.
Warnke said detectives were called to the area at around 5:30 p.m. after a farmer made the grisly discovery in the course of their “job duties” on the farm. According to a Thursday morning release, the victims were discovered "among the rows of an almond orchard" near the intersection of Indiana Road and Hutchins Road near Dos Palos, about 30 miles south of where the family was kidnapped.
The four bodies were found “relatively close together,” though a cause of death has not been revealed.
“There’s no words now how to describe the anger I feel and the senselessness of this incident,” Warnke said.
Authorities arrested Jesus Manuel Salgado, 48, on Tuesday as a person of interest in the kidnapping after someone “similar in appearance” used one of the victim’s bank cards at an Atwater ATM – about 10 miles northwest of Merced.
Merced County Sheriff’s Office Public Information Officer Alexandra Britton spoke with Oxygen.com to explain that Salgado was not believed to have used the victim’s ATM card.
“The bank provided us with the wrong photo from the ATM,” said Britton. “The ATM card was used, however, to my knowledge, Salgado was not associated with the transaction.”
The sheriff’s office couldn’t comment as to whether or not they were looking for a second person suspected of using the victim’s ATM card.
Per ABC Fresno affiliate KFSN-TV, it was Salgado’s family who contacted authorities after he allegedly confessed to the kidnapping, the sheriff’s office stated. But before law enforcement could zero in on Salgado, he allegedly attempted suicide and was taken to a hospital, where he was previously reported to be in critical condition.
On Wednesday evening, Warnke stated Salgado was talking and that he offered information to authorities. However, Warnke said they’re keeping the details “close to our chests.”
“Horribly, horribly senseless, as to what happened here,” said Warnke. “We don’t know motivation yet, but we are making a determining factor on that. The investigation now is going to pursue a full conviction, and I’m hoping our district attorney’s office files for the death penalty.”
Investigators are also looking into the possibility of another suspect, according to KFSN-TV.
“I’m just livid inside,” Warnke said later in the press conference. “We have a whole family wiped out, and for what. We don’t know yet.”
The frantic search began after Kaur, Dheri, and the Singh brothers were “taken against their will” from their trucking business on the 800 block of Highway 59 in Merced on Monday morning. Closed Circuit TV footage – some of which was released by authorities Wednesday morning – shows the masked suspect pulling up to the business and approaching Jasdeep Singh shortly after 9:00 a.m.
The suspect is seen holding a white garbage bag before pulling out an item – which appears to be a gun – before he and Jasdeep Singh enter the building.
Twelve minutes later, the Singh brothers – both with their hands seemingly tied behind them – are forced into Amandeep Singh’s 2020 Dodge Ram pickup truck before the truck drives out of frame.
Another six minutes later, the truck returns to the business before the suspect disappears into the building. Soon thereafter, the gunman is seen forcing Jasleen Kaur and her infant daughter into the truck before taking off once more.
Hours later, the truck was found burning on the side of the road in Winton, about 10 miles northwest of the family business.
Salgado was arrested on Tuesday morning. According to CNN, the district attorney’s office has not yet filed charges.
“It’s not the closure we were hoping for; it’s not the closure they (relatives) were hoping for,” said Warnke.
In the most recent release by the Merced County Sheriff’s Office on Thursday morning, investigators say their focus has “turned to the prosecution of this horrific crime” as interviews with Salgado continue.