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California family of 4 found dead, suspect in custody

Sheriff’s office continues investigation and search for motives

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Jasleen Kaur and Jasdeep Singh with their 8-month-old daughter Aroohi Dheri.

This undated photo provided by Merced County Sheriff’s Office shows Jasleen Kaur, left, and Jasdeep Singh, with their 8-month-old daughter Aroohi Dheri. Merced County Sheriff Vern Warnke announced Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2022, that the family, along with the baby’s uncle Amandeep Singh, who were kidnapped at gunpoint from their trucking business in central California, have been found dead.

Merced County Sheriff’s Office via Associated Press

On Wednesday, a farmhand in Merced County, California, discovered the bodies of a missing family of four, The Washington Post reported.

What happened?

Merced County authorities launched a manhunt on Monday for the family, including an 8-month-old child, Aroohi Dheri. Aroohi, her mother Jasleen Kaur, her father Jasdeep Singh and her uncle Amandeep Singh were kidnapped from their Merced business at gunpoint, according to CNN.

Security footage outside the business shows Jasdeep and Amandeep Singh arriving within 10 minutes of each other. In the video, Jasdeep Singh is confronted by a man with a gun, who then forces him and Amandeep Singh into the truck.

The truck is shown to leave for about six minutes and return to the business, where the man retrieves Jasleen Kaur and Aroohi.

The family’s phones were found and turned over to authorities by a local farmer, per CNN.

Later that day, Amandeep’s black 2020 Dodge Ram was found on fire outside Merced, Fox News reported.

During the search for the family, their relatives pled with the public to submit their own surveillance footage and aid in the effort to bring their family home safe.

On Wednesday night, Merced County Sheriff Vern Warnke announced a grim discovery, saying, “Tonight, our worst fears have been confirmed.”

Who did it?

In the early hours of Tuesday morning, authorities were alerted to bank activity involving one of the victims’ ATM cards, leading to the arrest of the kidnapping suspect, Jesus Manuel Salgado.

Merced County Sheriff’s Deputy Alexandra Britton said that Salgado told his family about his involvement in the kidnapping, according to CNN. Authorities also compared security footage of Salgado at the ATM to the footage of the kidnapping and concluded the two men looked very similar.

Officials apprehended Salgado shortly after he attempted suicide. He is currently recovering and cooperating with law enforcement.

What’s next in the investigation?

Currently, the sheriff’s office has not identified any motive for the kidnapping and murder. Investigators are actively investigating the possibility of multiple suspects and believe that there were more people involved than Salgado.

According to Warnke, the victims’ families have been notified and put into contact with spiritual resources to help them through their grief.