Four Central California family members found dead after kidnapping, sheriff says

Leanne Suter Image
Thursday, October 6, 2022
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The four family members who were kidnapped from a business in Central California's Merced County have been found dead, the sheriff announced Wednesday evening.

MERCED, Calif. (KABC) -- A baby girl, her parents and uncle were found dead in an orchard after they were kidnapped at gunpoint from their business in Central California's Merced County, the sheriff announced Wednesday evening.

"Our worst fears have been confirmed," Merced County Sheriff Vern Warnke said. "We found the four people from the kidnapping and they are in fact deceased."

"There is no words right now to describe the anger I feel and the senselessness of this incident," he added. "I said it earlier, there's a special place in hell for this guy."

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.

Authorities said they were taken by a convicted robber who tried to kill himself a day after the kidnappings. Jesus Salgado, 48, was in critical condition when taken into custody but has been talking to police, Warnke said.

The sheriff said while there is no evidence at this time to indicate another person was involved, "I still think that we're by the time we get done here we'll be able to tie in at least one other person."

Earlier Wednesday, authorities showed surveillance video of a man kidnapping the baby, Aroohi Dheri; the child's mother, Jasleen Kaur, 27; father Jasdeep Singh, 36; and uncle Amandeep Singh, 39, from their business.

The family was kidnapped Monday at gunpoint from a business in Merced, authorities said.

The video shows two of the family members - Jasdeep and Amandeep Singh - coming out of the back door of the business with their hands zip-tied together.

Moments later, the video shows the kidnapper leading Kaur and her 8-month-old baby, Aroohi Dheri, out of the building into a truck.

CA family kidnapping: Chilling new video shows suspect take 2 zip-tied family members, mom and baby

Deputies later learned that one of the victim's ATM cards was used at a bank in Atwater, about 9 miles north of Merced. Authorities added a farmer answered the victim's phone after it was found in the middle of the street.

A motive for the kidnapping has not been determined, but it is believed to be financial in nature.

Earlier Wednesday, relatives of the kidnapped family spoke to the community.

"It's something that nobody is prepared for dealing with. We are just hoping and praying every moment," said a family member who identified himself as Balwinder.

"We are devastated. We are shocked. We are dying every moment."

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

Salgado was previously convicted of first-degree robbery with the use of a firearm in Merced County, as well as attempted false imprisonment and an attempt to prevent or dissuade a victim or witness. He was sentenced to 11 years in state prison in that case, according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

He was released from prison in 2015 and discharged from parole three years later. He also has a conviction for possession of a controlled substance, the corrections agency said.

There is no evidence at this time to indicate Salgado knew the family prior to the kidnapping.

Late Wednesday, the Merced County sheriff said that Salgado was awake and talking with authorities.

The sheriff stressed this is still an active investigation.

"What we're going to deal with tonight is bad. And we're going to be out here all night having to deal with it," Warnke said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.