Bodies of kidnapped Merced County California family found

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Merced County family kidnapping

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Merced County Sheriff Vern Warnke confirmed Wednesday evening that the bodies of four kidnapped family members have been found.

“Our worst fears have been confirmed,” Warnke told media gathered in a rural part of the county, northeast of Dos Palos. “There are no words right now to describe the anger I feel and the senselessness of this incident.”

The four family members were Aroohi Dheri, 8 months, her parents Jasleen Kaur, 27, and Jasdeep Singh, 36, and her uncle Amandeep Singh, 39.

Warnke said the bodies were in an “extremely remote” area near the intersection of Indiana and Hutchins roads. He said a farmhand made the gruesome discovery and authorities were notified around 5.30pm on Wednesday.

Warnke said the bodies were “relatively close together”.

The four family members were abducted at gunpoint from a business they operated just south of Merced near Highway 59 South, Gateway Parking.

A 48-year-old suspect Jesus Manuel Salgado is in custody in connection with the kidnapping.

“I said it earlier, there’s a special place in hell for this guy,” Warnke said Wednesday.

Warnke said family members of the victims were notified after the bodies were found.

“Now that we know where our victims are, we now need to conduct the criminal investigation, gather all the evidence and tie it all together,” Warnke said.

Warnke said Salgado had attempted suicide before he was arrested and therefore had to receive medical attention. Although Salgado was sedated, Warnke said the suspect has since begun speaking with investigators.

“The suspect spoke intermittently, depending on his condition. And we still have investigators with the suspect and we’re pulling information from that,” Warnke said.

“This investigation is now moving towards putting this rotten son of a gun in prison.”

Video footage of the abduction

Sheriff Warnke said detectives are still working to piece together a motive in the crime.

Salgado, the suspect in the case, has a criminal history and was in prison just seven years ago.

He served time for intimidation of witnesses and robbery of residence with firearm enhancements.

Salgado was convicted on Dec. 19, 2005, and paroled from jail on June 21, 2015, according to the Merced County District Attorney’s Office.

Earlier Wednesday, the Merced County Sheriff’s Office released video footage of the robbery that took place Monday morning at the victims’ business.

The video shows a masked and armed man entering the company premises. The robber then drove Jasdeep Singh (father of an 8-month-old child) and Amandeep Singh (the baby’s uncle) at gunpoint into Amandeep’s black Dodge Ram pickup truck.

Both men were restrained with their hands tied behind their backs with zip ties, the video shows.

Minutes later, the video shows Jasleen exiting the building holding her baby and being escorted by the suspect, who was still holding the gun.

Jasleen and Aroohi were put in the vehicle and the van headed south on Highway 59.

The chilling surveillance footage appears to be the last time the victims were seen alive.

Cell phones of victims found

Revelations about the crime began to emerge on Monday afternoon.

firefighters with Cal Fire Wood-Butterfly-Merced unit were sent to Buhach Road and Oakdale Road in Winton after a black 2020 Dodge Ram truck was reported on fire.

Investigators learned that the registered owner of the truck was Amandeep Singh, who was later discovered to be one of the victims.

Merced County Sheriff’s Deputies then arrived at the victims’ Gateway Parking business.

The deputies determined the business was a crime scene and the kidnapping investigation was opened.

At Wednesday morning’s press conference, Undersheriff Corey Gibson told reporters that while deputies were conducting their investigation at Gateway Parking, family members called the victims’ cellphones.

Gibson said a farmer found the cell phones in the middle of the road near Dos Palos and picked them up when they rang.

Warnke, the Merced County Sheriff, said those phones weren’t too far from the area where the bodies were ultimately discovered.

MPs urge anyone with information about the abduction to call 209-385-7547. Advice is confidential and you can remain anonymous.

Fresno Bee reporters Bryant-Jon Anteola and Jim Guy contributed to this report.

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On the left, 8-month-old Aroohi Dheri is pictured with her parents Jasleen Kaur, 27, and Jasdeep Singh, 36. At right is Uncle Amandeep Singh, 39. Merced County Sheriff
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Aroohi Dheri, 8-month-old Merced County Sheriff

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Jesus Manuel Salgado Sheriff of Merced County

This story was originally published October 5, 2022 8:25 p.m.

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