Video Producer: Aparna Singh
Video Editor: Rajbir Singh
Four members of an Indian-origin family, including an 8-month-old girl, who were kidnapped in central California's Merced city on Monday were found deceased in a remote farm, the county sheriff's office said on on Thursday, 6 October.
"Tonight, our worst fears have been confirmed. We found the four people from the kidnapping and they are in fact deceased," County Sheriff Vern Warnke said.
Warnke said that a farm worker came across the deceased in an "extremely rural farm area" and subsequently notified authorities.
The deceased include 8-month-old Aroohi Dheri, her mother Jasleen Kaur (27), her father Jasdeep Singh (36) and her uncle Amandeep Singh (39).
Officials added that the motivation behind the crime is currently unknown but added that the Sheriff's department hopes that the district attorney's office files for the death penalty.
"This was completely and totally senseless. We had a whole family wiped out, and for what? We don't know yet."Merced County Sheriff's Office
Warnke said that the suspect, 48-year-old Jesus Manuel Salgado, was speaking to authorities and provided "some information."
The Sheriff's County Department said that they reached out to the relatives of the family back in India, who had said that they were in shock and grief after hearing about the mysterious disappearance of their kin.
Jasdeep’s parents, Dr Randhir Singh and Kirpal Kaur, are natives of Hoshiarpur’s Harsi Pind village in Punjab. The family went to the US around 16 years ago and settled there, and runs a transport business.
The Police Investigation
The police were alerted of the crime after finding Amandeep Singh’s black pickup truck burning on the side of a county road on Monday. While investigating the burning truck, sheriff’s deputies were unable to reach the family and determined that they had been abducted.
Salgado was named a person of interest by the police after cameras captured a man resembling him using a bank card belonging to one of the missing persons.
"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."
The Merced County Sheriff’s Office later said it was determined that the photo of the person at the ATM was not the person of interest that is in custody. "The victim’s ATM card was used, however, we are working with the bank to obtain the correct photo," it said in a statement.
While details about the incident remain scarce, authorities have said that the four were taken against their will from a business at the 800 Block of South Highway 59.
The site is a roadway lined with retailers and restaurants.
Warnke added the kidnapper had made no ransom demands or contact of any kind.