California suspect in Merced family kidnapping murder had ‘nasty’ year-long feud with victims, sheriff says

The suspect arrested in the cold-blooded kidnapping and murder of an eight-month-old baby, his parents and uncle had a year-long feud with the victims, a sheriff said Thursday.

A farm worker has found the bodies of baby Aroohi Dheri, his mother Jasleen Kaur, 27, his father Jasdeep Singh, 36, and his uncle Amadeep Singh, 39, in an almond orchard in a remote area from the San Joaquin Valley in California on Wednesday evening. They were kidnapped at gunpoint from their trucking business in Merced on Monday morning.

Convicted felon Jesus Salgado, 48, attempted suicide the day after the relatives were kidnapped, authorities said. He was released from the hospital Thursday evening and remanded to the county jail, according to the Merced County Sheriff’s Office.

In an interview with the Associated press On Thursday, Sheriff Van Warnke said Salgado worked for the victims’ company, identified in public records as Unison Trucking Inc. He added that Salgado got into a feud with the family that dated back a year, and that the dispute “got pretty nasty”. in emails and text messages. The exact nature of the disagreement or Salgado’s employment is not yet known.

Warnke said he believed the family was likely dead within an hour of his abduction. He also described the crime as one of the worst he had seen in 43 years of law enforcement and hoped prosecutors would seek the death penalty.

“There are things you will take to the grave,” he said. “For me, it was pure evil.”

The sheriff did not reveal the condition of the adults’ bodies when they were found in the orchard, but said the baby had no visible trauma. An autopsy will be performed to establish the cause of his death. Warnke also called on a person of interest suspected of being an accomplice to the crime to surrender.

Salgado’s relatives contacted authorities to say he admitted to involvement in the kidnapping, Warnke said KFSN-TV tuesday. His suicide attempt occurred before authorities arrived at a home in Atwater, about nine miles north of Merced, where an ATM card belonging to one of the victims was used after the kidnapping.

The ex-con’s criminal record includes convictions for robbery, attempted forcible confinement and deterring a witness during a 2005 home invasion. A victim of that previous night of terror – which landed Salgado behind the bars for eight years – told CBS47 they too owned a trucking company and had employed him for two years before firing him.

He showed up wearing a ski mask and brandishing a gun at the home of his former boss in December 2005. He tied up the man, his wife and their 16-year-old daughter with duct tape as he stole their valuables, threatening to kill them if they called the cops.

CCTV footage on Monday showed the suspect driving the Singh brothers, hands tied behind their backs, into the backseat of Amandeep Singh’s van. The suspect then drove the truck before returning a few minutes later. Jasleen Kaur, carrying her baby in her arms, was then seen being driven into the truck and driven away shortly before 9.30am.

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