Kidnapped family of four found dead. “There are no words”, says the sheriff of Merced

Four members of a Merced family whose abduction was captured on surveillance video have been found dead, authorities confirmed Wednesday night.

A farm worker called around 5:30 p.m. to report the bodies, Merced County Sheriff Vern Warnke said. Deputies arrived at the scene soon after, followed by detectives who determined the remains were those of 8-month-old Aroohi Dheri; his mother, Jasleen Kaur, 27; her father, Jasdeep Singh, 36; and his uncle, Amandeep Singh, 39, who were taken at gunpoint on Monday from the family business in Merced near South Highway 59.

“Tonight our worst fears were confirmed,” Warnke said. “We found the four people from the kidnapping and they are in fact dead. … There are no words right now to describe the anger I feel and the senselessness of this incident. I said it earlier, there’s a special place in hell for this guy.

Suspect Jesus Manuel Salgado, 48, was arrested on Tuesday after attempting to kill himself in the nearby town of Atwater.

Warnke said Wednesday night that investigators spoke with Salgado but declined to provide further details about what the suspect said, citing the ongoing investigation.

Relatives of the family have been notified, the sheriff said, adding that deputies and other staff would deal with the scene overnight.

The motive for the kidnappings and murders is not yet known, Warnke said.

The sheriff said he hopes the district attorney will pursue the death penalty.

The discovery of the bodies came hours after authorities released surveillance footage showing the abduction of the family of four. Deputy Corey Gibson detailed the timeline of the kidnapping, showing new video footage taken outside the family business.

Singh and his brother Amandeep Singh arrived at the business between 8:30 a.m. and 8:40 a.m., the video showed.

At around 9 a.m., Singh appeared to casually interact with the suspect, believed to be Salgado, outside the building. The two headed for the entrance of the company, with Singh in the lead. The suspect was carrying a white trash bag, surveillance footage showed.

“[The suspect] put the trash bag down and you’ll see he pulls out a gun,” Gibson said.

Singh and the suspect entered the building and remained inside for a few minutes, and the video then showed Singh and his brother exiting through the back door with their hands apparently tied behind their backs as the suspect followed them with weapon in hand.

The suspect put Singh and his brother in the back seat of Amandeep’s van, the video showed. The suspect left and returned six minutes later, according to surveillance footage.

“The same suspect exits the vehicle and returns inside the business,” Gibson said.

Less than a minute later, video showed Kaur carrying her baby through the back door, unrestrained, followed by the suspect.

The investigation into the family business that uncovered the video began Monday after authorities found Amandeep Singh’s Dodge Ram truck on fire in the town of Winton.

When officers arrived at Singh’s home to investigate the car fire, a family member was unable to get in touch with him. When the family could not contact Amandeep Singh, along with Kaur and her husband, they reported them missing to the sheriff’s office.

“Please help us all. Move forward, so that my family can come home safely,” said Sukhdeep Singh, a family member.

“We’re all trying to look for ways to deal with this or help in any way,” said another family member, who identified himself as Balwinder.

Salgado was convicted in 2005 of armed robbery, which involved false imprisonment, Warnke said. He was paroled in 2015 and has had no “major contact” with the law since, the sheriff said.

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