Kidnapped California Family Found Dead

Police have not yet established a motive for horrific slayings
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Oct 6, 2022 1:27 AM CDT
Updated Oct 6, 2022 6:03 AM CDT
Kidnapped California Family Found Dead
Merced County Sheriff Vern Warnke 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)

A baby girl, her parents and uncle were found dead in a central California orchard two days after they were kidnapped at gunpoint from their business, police said. "Our worst fears have been confirmed,” Merced County Sheriff Vern Warnke said at a Wednesday night news conference, per the AP. Warnke did not release any information about how and when police believe they were killed. He said the victims were close to each other when found by a farm worker in a remote area.

Earlier Wednesday, authorities released surveillance video of a man kidnapping 8-month-old Aroohi Dheri; her mother, Jasleen Kaur, 27; father Jasdeep Singh, 36; and uncle Amandeep Singh, 39, on Monday. The suspect, a convicted robber who tried to kill himself a day after the kidnappings, was later arrested. Jesus Salgado, 48, was in critical condition when taken into custody but has been talking to police, Warnke said. “There’s no words right now to describe the anger I feel and the senselessness of this incident,” he said. “I said it earlier: There’s a special place in hell for this guy.” Family members had told KXTV-TV that the office for Unison Trucking Inc., the family's business, had only opened about a week earlier.

Family members said nothing was stolen from the trucking company but that their relatives were all wearing jewelry. Warnke had said that after the kidnappings, an ATM card belonging to one of the victims was used in Atwater, about 9 miles north of Merced. Warnke said the kidnapper made no ransom demands. Investigators were trying to discover a motive for the slayings, the sheriff said. “We have a whole family wiped out and for what? We don’t know yet,” he said. Investigators have not found a link between Salgado and the family to show they knew each other before the kidnapping. “As of right now, we believe it was random,” Deputy Alexandra Britton said. “We don’t have evidence to prove otherwise.”

(Read more California stories.)

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