A California sheriff released the worst possible news in the search for a kidnapped family of four. Authorities said 8-month-old Aroohi Dheri, her mother Jasleen Kaur, 27, father Jasdeep Singh, 36, and uncle Amandeep Singh, 39, were found dead on Wednesday.
“Tonight, our worst fears have been confirmed,” Merced County Sheriff Vern Warnke said in a press conference. “We found the four people from the kidnapping, and they are in fact deceased.”
The sheriff said his office got the call at about 5:30 p.m. A farm worker in the area came across the family during the course of his duties, Warnke said. Deputies and detectives arrived at the scene, with detectives confirming the discovery. The victims were found relatively close together, said Warnke, declining to release specifics because of likely criminal charges against Jesus Manuel Salgado, 48.
Deputies have previously described him as a “person of interest.” They took him into custody on Tuesday, saying he had attempted to die by suicide. He was in critical condition. From deputies on Tuesday:
At approximately noon, working in conjunction with our local law enforcement partners, the Sheriff’s Office received information that identified Jesus Manuel Salgado (48-years-old) as a person of interest in this investigation. Prior to law enforcement involvement, Salgado attempted to take his own life. Salgado is in our custody, currently receiving medical attention and in critical condition.
“There’s no words right now to describe the anger I feel and the senselessness of this incident,” Warnke said Wednesday. “I said it earlier there’s a special place in hell for this guy, and I mean it. What we’re going to deal with tonight is bad.”
Authorities previously released surveillance footage in the moments leading up to the kidnapping, according to KFSN. The Singh brothers were seen exiting a business with their hands zip-tied.
Then the masked kidnapper led Kaur, who was holding Dheri, out of the building into a truck. Detectives believe the kidnapper destroyed evidence to cover his tracks, authorities previously said.
“We have a whole family wiped out and for what,” Warnke said on Wednesday. “We don’t know yet.”
Authorities are still in the dark about why this happened.
One of the victim’s ATM cards was used, investigators have said.
“It was determined that the photo of the person at the ATM was not the person of interest that is in custody,” the sheriff’s office wrote. “The victim’s ATM card was used, however we are working with the bank to obtain the correct photo.”
“We have a lowlife out there that kidnapped an 8-month-old baby, her mom, her dad, and her uncle,” Warnke previously said during the search for the family. “So far we have no idea why the kidnapping [happened]. We have no motivation behind it. We just know that they are gone. We’ve got evidence to indicate that the individuals involved in this destroyed evidence in an attempt to cover their tracks.”
He hoped that prosecutors would seek the death penalty in this case.
The investigation is ongoing. Authorities are processing the scene. The sheriff told reporters the “suspect” has been talking to them. Warnke described the area as rural and remote.
Salgado’s family reached out to investigators that he confessed that he was involved in the kidnapping, authorities said, according to KFSN.
Salgado was reportedly imprisoned for a December 2005 incident on charges of home invasion robbery with a gun, witness intimidation, and attempted false imprisonment. The victims were unhurt. Salgado was released in June 2015.
Authorities previously said that anyone with information can call the Merced County Sheriff’s Office at (209) 385-7445 or email [email protected]
Note: We added information about one of the victim’s ATM cards being used.
[Images via Merced County Sheriff’s Office]
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