Everything we know about family of four, including eight-month-old baby, kidnapped and killed in California

New details continue to emerge about the accused killer as his brother is arrested as an alleged accomplice

Andrea Blanco
Friday 07 October 2022 20:38 BST
California kidnapping: All 4 members of family found dead after likely being kidnapped
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The kidnapping and murders of a family-of-four in California has taken another tragic twist as new details emerged about the accused killer and a second man was arrested for his alleged involvement.

The bodies of eight-month-old Aroohi Dheri, her mother Jasleen Kaur, 27, father Jasdeep Singh, 36, and uncle Amandeep Singh, 39, were found by a farmer on Wednesday evening – two days after they were kidnapped from their trucking business in Merced.

Jesus Manuel Salgado, a 48-year-old former employee at the trucking firm, has been arrested and charged with four counts of murder and four counts of kidnapping.

On Friday, officials announced the arrest of his brother as an accomplice in the brutal slayings.

Here’s everything we know about the case so far:

The kidnapping

The family members were abducted from their business Unison Trucking, on the 800 Block of South Highway 59 in Merced County, on Monday morning.

Surveillance footage, released by authorities, captured the moment they were led from the business at gunpoint.

The footage shows Jasdeep Singh arrive at the business at around 8.30am on Monday. Jasdeep is seen coming into contact with the suspect, and they walk toward the building.

A masked suspect, later identified as convicted robber Jesus Salgado, then pulls out a firearm and enters the business. He leads Jasdeep and his brother, Amandeep, with their hands zip-tied behind their backs to a truck.

The vehicle departs for a few minutes before returning, when Jasdeep’s wife Jasleen and their eight-month-old child, are led from the building into the truck.

The four family members were kidnapped at gunpoint and murdered on Monday (Merced County Sheriff's Office)

Hours later, the fire department discovered Amandeep Singh’s truck on fire, in what police believe was an attempt by the suspect to destroy unspecified evidence.

Firefighters were sent to Amandeep’s home and were told by a family member that the victims could not be reached.

One of the victim’s phones was answered by a farmer in the neighbouring town of Dos Palos, where it had been dumped. The family immediately reported their loved ones missing.

Bodies found ‘close to each other’

The victims’ remains were discovered around 5.30pm on Wednesday by a farm worker in a remote orchard.

Sheriff Vern Warnke held a press conference to announce the gruesome discovery.

“Our worst fears have been confirmed,” Mr Warnkle said. “There’s 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.”

He did not disclose how the victims were killed but investigators believe they were killed in the orchard not long after the kidnapping.

“We have a whole family wiped out and for what? We don’t know yet,” said the sheriff.

The California Department of Justice and investigators from other agencies processed the scene overnight, NPR reported.

In the northern Indian state of Punjab, Kaur’s sister-in-law Amandeep Kaur told The Indian Express that they cannot bear the loss.

Kaur’s mother Gurmeet Kaur and her farmer father Gurnam Singh were not in a state to speak, the outlet reported.

“We are devastated, we are shocked, we are dying every moment,” an unnamed relative said at an earlier news conference Wednesday.

Relatives of the suspect tipped off police

Salgado became a prime suspect when his family contacted the sheriff’s office to say that he had admitted to being involved in the kidnappings.

Jesus Salgado is charged with four counts of murder (Merced County Sheriff's Office)

Before he could be arrested, he was hospitalised in critical condition after attempting to kill himself.

Late Thursday night, authorities announced that Salgado had been transferred from hospital and booked into the Merced County Jail on four counts of murder and four counts of kidnapping.

“Our Detectives, alongside investigators from assisting agencies, will continue to follow up on any leads of additional people who may have been involved in this horrific incident,” the sheriff’s office said.

Suspect was fired from trucking business

Investigators believe Salgado carried out the murders out of revenge after he was fired from the Singh family’s trucking business.

Salgado drove for 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 sent “nasty” texts and emails to the family and neighbours said they saw him prowling around the business shouting at people.

Salgado carried out an eerily similar attack on another past employer, it has emerged.

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

He was sentenced to 11 years in prison in 2007 but was released in 2015 – after serving eight years.

Sheriff Warnke compared the two cases on Thursday saying: “I think this is the same kind of thing.”

Brother charged in slayings

Investigators previously said that they believed at least one more perpetrator was involved in helping Salgado carry out the kidnapping and murders.

On Thursday night, his brother Alberto Salgado was arrested and charged with criminal conspiracy, accessory, and destroying evidence.

Alberto Salgado was arrested and charged with criminal conspiracy, accessory, and destroying evidence (Merced County Sheriff's Office)

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

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

But, 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.

The victims had just moved to US

The Singh family had moved from Punjab, India, to the US last year for a new life.

They had opened their new business, Unison Trucking Inc, and were just focusing on expanding it days before they were killed, according to family members who spoke with local news station KXTV-TV.

“They have a trucking company. It’s called Unison Trucking, and they made a new truckyard with an office and they barely started this Monday. Yesterday, when they started working, it was only six days they started business at this place,” Deep Singh told the station.

Amandeep Singh’s wife, Jaspreet Caur, also told the station that she didn’t know why the family had been targeted.

“My husband is very peaceful and calm person. We don’t have any clue why they kidnapped them,” Ms Caur said.

Loved ones of the victims said that nothing was stolen from the trucking company but that their loved ones were wearing jewellery.

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