Central California kidnapping: Person of interest in custody, 4 family members still missing

Leanne Suter Image
Wednesday, October 5, 2022
CA kidnapping: Person of interest in custody; family still missing
A person of interest in the kidnapping of four family members in Merced County was taken into custody Tuesday, authorities announced.

MERCED, Calif. (KABC) -- A person of interest in the kidnapping of four family members in Central California's Merced County was taken into custody Tuesday afternoon, authorities announced.

The four family members, including an 8-month-old infant, have not been found. The family was kidnapped Monday at gunpoint from a business in Merced, the sheriff's office said, without providing further details.

"We continue to ask for the public's help with any information that may assist us in locating the family's whereabouts," the Merced County Sheriff's Office said.

The sheriff's office says 48-year-old Jesus Manuel Salgado, the person of interest, is in the hospital in critical condition after he tried to kill himself.

Authorities say deputies were informed that one of the victim's ATM cards was used at a bank in Atwater, a city about 9 miles north of Merced.

RELATED: 4 family members kidnapped from Merced business, picture released of suspect

Detectives received information that identified Salgado as a person of interest and that he attempted to take his own life before police arrived, a statement from authorities said, without specifying where he was taken into custody.

The sheriff's office said his own family contacted authorities reporting that Salgado had admitted to them he was involved with the kidnapping of the family.

The sheriff's office will hold a news conference Wednesday to give more details.

The kidnapper took the baby, Aroohi Dheri; the child's mother, Jasleen Kaur, 27; father Jasdeep Singh, 36; and uncle Amandeep Singh, 39, said Merced County Sheriff Vern Warnke in a video published Monday on Facebook.

Warnke said the kidnapper made no ransom demands or contact of any kind.

Family members told KXTV-TV that the family, which has a trucking company, was taken from an office that they had only opened about a week earlier.

"My husband is very peaceful and calm person. We don't have any clue why they kidnapped them," said Jaspreet Kaur, wife of the kidnapped uncle.

The sheriff's department on Monday released two still images from surveillance footage of a possible suspect and asked for the public's help in identifying the man. He's seen wearing a dark hooded sweatshirt, dark shorts and a light blue disposable face mask.

The sheriff said detectives believe the kidnapper destroyed unspecified evidence in an attempt to cover his tracks.

The sheriff's office said in a statement Tuesday that Amandeep Singh's vehicle was found on fire Monday around 11:40 a.m. Merced police and family members were unable to contact him or the couple. Shortly after, the Merced County Sheriff's Office responded to the business and determined they had been kidnapped.

The sheriff's office said the FBI, the California Department of Justice, and other local law enforcement agencies are helping with the investigation.

Warnke says his investigators still don't have a motive for the kidnapping, but he says this isn't the first time that Salgado has held victims against their will.

According to the Merced County District Attorney's Office, there was a similar incident in December 2005. That landed Salgado in prison for charges of home invasion robbery with a gun, witness intimidation and attempted false imprisonment. The victims weren't hurt.

He was released in June 2015.

Meanwhile, family members of the kidnapped victims are praying their loved ones will be found alive.

"Please, I have a 6-year-old and a 9-year-old kid, and they are waiting for their dad," Kaur said. "Please, please send my family back. Please return my family."

KFSN-TV and the Associated Press contributed to this report.