Brother of disgruntled ex-employee accused of kidnapping and murdering family-of-four charged as accessory

Investigators previously said they believed at least one more perpetrator helped Jesus Salgado kidnap and murder the family-of-four

Rachel Sharp
Friday 07 October 2022 20:41 BST
California family kidnapped at gunpoint found dead: video
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The brother of a disgruntled former employee accused of kidnapping and murdering a family of four has now been charged as an accomplice in the brutal slayings that rocked a close-knit California community this week.

Alberto Salgado was arrested on Thursday night on charges of criminal conspiracy, accessory, and destroying evidence in the abduction and murders of eight-month-old Aroohi Dheri, her mother Jasleen Kaur, 27, father Jasdeep Singh, 36, and uncle Amandeep Singh, 39, Merced County Sheriff’s Office announced on Friday.

He has been booked into Merced County Jail – the same jail currently housing his brother Jesus Manuel Salgado.

Jesus Salgado, 48, was charged with four counts of murder and four counts of kidnapping on Thursday over what is believed to be a shocking act of revenge after he was fired from the Singh family’s trucking business.

Investigators previously said that they believed at least one more perpetrator was involved in helping Jesus Salgado carry out the heinous abductions and murders, but had stopped short of naming any suspect on their radar.

It is currently unclear exactly what role authorities believe Alberto Salgado played in the attacks.

The Singh family, who had recently moved to the US from India for a new life, were kidnapped at gunpoint from their business on Monday morning.

Chilling surveillance footage, released by authorities on Wednesday, captured a man sporting a face mask leading the victims restrained with zip ties out of their business at gunpoint.

In the footage, Jasdeep is seen arriving at the business at 8.30am on Monday morning, followed by Amandeep around nine minutes later.

Just before 9am, Jasdeep is confronted by a man outside the business who appears to pull a gun from a white trash bag he was carrying.

Around 10 minutes later, Jasdeep and Amandeep are seen being led out of the building with their hands tied behind their backs and forced into Amandeep’s truck.

The truck drives off but returns minutes later, with the footage capturing the suspect entering the business once again – this time leading Jasleen out at gunpoint.

Alberto Salgado was arrested on Thursday night on charges of criminal conspiracy, accessory, and destroying evidence
Alberto Salgado was arrested on Thursday night on charges of criminal conspiracy, accessory, and destroying evidence (Merced County Sheriff’s Office)

The mother is seen cradling her eight-month-old baby daughter in her arms.

The truck was found on fire hours later, prompting concerned family members to report the family missing.

Two days later, the remains of all four victims were discovered in a remote almond orchard by a farm worker.

The cause of death has not been revealed but police say they died where the bodies were found.

While only one suspect – identified by authorities as Jesus Salgado – was captured in the footage of the kidnapping, investigators said earlier this week that a different individual was captured on surveillance footage using one of the victim’s bank cards after the murders.

Officials have not confirmed whether they believe this man to be Alberto Salgado.

His arrest comes as new details emerged about his brother’s possible motive for the murders.

Jesus Salgado drove for the Singh family’s trucking business Unison Trucking but was let go sometime last year, Merced County Sheriff Vernon Warnke revealed in a press conference on Thursday.

Over the next year, he allegedly harboured a grudge against the family, with investigators uncovering a trove of “nasty” text and email exchanges and neighbours reporting seeing him prowling around the business shouting in recent months.

Eight-month-old Aroohi Dheri, her mother Jasleen Kaur, 27, father Jasdeep Singh, 36 were all killed
Eight-month-old Aroohi Dheri, her mother Jasleen Kaur, 27, father Jasdeep Singh, 36 were all killed (Merced County Sheriff’s Office)
Amandeep Singh, 39, was also kidnapped and killed
Amandeep Singh, 39, was also kidnapped and killed (Merced County Sheriff’s Office)

Sheriff Warnke said that there is a “special place in hell” for the accused killer as it was revealed that Jesus Salgado carried out an eerily similar attack on another past employer.

Jesus Salgado worked for a different family-owned trucking company for around two years but was fired for unknown reasons.

Then, one night in December 2005, he turned up at the owner’s family home dressed in a ski mask and armed with a gun.

The victim told CBS47 that Salgado held the gun to his head and forced his way into the home where his wife, 16-year-old daughter and his daughter’s friend were also present.

He used duct tape to tie the hands of all four victims before robbing them of money and jewellery including pulling the ring off his wife’s finger.

Salgado then forced all the victims into the pool and threatened to kill them if they called the police, before leaving the home.

The family managed to get out of the pool and called the police.

In 2007, Salgado was convicted of first-degree robbery with a firearm, attempted false imprisonment, and dissuading a witness.

He was sentenced to 11 years in prison. One month later, he was also sentenced to eight months for possession of a controlled substance.

In 2015, he was released – after serving eight years of his sentence.

Seven years on from his release, Salgado is accused of following a similar pattern with the Singh family – but this time leaving behind no survivors.

Sheriff Warnke compared the two cases on Thursday as he voiced his anger over the senseless killings.

“He kept his boss and family at gunpoint over money he thought he was owed,” he said of the 2005 case.

“I think this is the same kind of thing.”

Jesus Manuel Salgado, 48, was charged with four counts of murder and four counts of kidnapping
Jesus Manuel Salgado, 48, was charged with four counts of murder and four counts of kidnapping (Merced County Sheriff’s Office))

The net closed in on the brothers when an unidentified family member contacted police to say that Jesus Salgado had confessed to being involved in the kidnapping.

On Tuesday, he attempted to take his own life and was taken into police custody.

He was booked into Merced County Jail after being transferred from hospital.

The horrifying quadruple kidnap and murder has sent shockwaves through the close-knit Sikh immigrant community where the Singh family had not long begun their new life after moving from Punjab, India.

Neighbours and employees said the family bought the large gravel lot for the trucking business last year and had dreams of expanding the company to rent spaces to boat owners and RVs.

Trucker Blas Peña sobbed as he told theSF Chronicle about the “very nice” family who were more “like friends — not like bosses” to him.

“They treat all the drivers like a family. This thing that happened is a complete surprise to us,” his wife Noemi Alcala added.

“Nobody knows this guy [Salgado]. There was no reason to do this to such a nice family.”

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