No Motive Yet for Murder of California Family of Four, Including 8-month-old
Investigators for Merced County in California’s Central Valley, about 2.5 hours by car southeast of San Francisco, still have no motive in the brutal abduction and killing of four local family members — including an 8-month-old girl.
The bodies of the girl, Aroohi Dheri; her mother Jasleen Kaur, 27, father Jasdeep Singh, 36;and uncle Amandeep Singh, 39. were discovered in an orchard two days after they all were apparently kidnapped at gunpoint from a family business.
“Our worst fears have been confirmed,” Merced County Sheriff Vern Warnke said at a Wednesday night news conference. While not elaborating about when or how the family members were killed, the sheriff confirmed all four victims were found close to one another in a remote area.
Authorities on Wednesday had released surveillance video of the family members being kidnapped by Jesus Salgado, 48, a convicted robber who reportedly tried to kill himself a day after the kidnappings. He was in critical condition when he was apprehended by officers — and has been talking to investigators, Warnke said.
“There’s no words right now to describe the anger I feel and the senselessness of this incident,” Warnke said. “I said it earlier: There’s a special place in hell for this guy.”
Relatives of Salgado apparently contacted authorities and revealed he had admitted he was involved in the kidnapping, Warnke told KFSN-TV on Tuesday.
The video released Wednesday showed the suspect walking by the business property before talking to one of the men. The video later shows the suspect leading the two men, who had their hands zip-tied behind their backs, into the back seat of Amandeep Singh’s pickup truck. The suspect then returned to the business office and led Jasdeep Singh, who was carrying her baby in her arms, into the truck before driving away.
Detectives believe the kidnapper destroyed unspecified evidence.
Singh family members said nothing was stolen from the trucking company, but that the victims were all wearing jewelry.
Warnke indicated that after the kidnappings, an ATM card belonging to one of the victims had been used about 9 miles north of Merced.
Salgado previously was convicted of first-degree robbery with the use of a firearm in Merced County, as well as attempted false imprisonment and an attempt to prevent or dissuade a victim or witness. According to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, Salgado was sentenced to 11 years in state prison for that previous case
Salgado was released from prison in 2015 and three years later was discharged from parole. He also had a conviction for possession of a controlled substance, the agency confirmed.
Investigators have not found a link between Salgado and the family to show they knew each other before the kidnapping.
“As of right now, we believe it was random,” Sheriff’s Deputy Alexandra Britton said. “We don’t have evidence to prove otherwise.”
Warnke said the kidnapper made no ransom demands. “We have a whole family wiped out and for what? We don’t know yet,” he said.
“We’re hoping that they can now at least have some kind of closure,” Warnke said, but, “It’s not the closure we were hoping for; it’s not the closure they were hoping for.”
Family members told KXTV-TV that the family’s trucking business office had opened about a week earlier.
UPDATE: A spokesperson for the victims’ family told the media the primary suspect in the kidnapping and murder, Jesus Manuel Salgado, is a former employee who used to drive for the family’s company. They had a disagreement and parted ways.
Although investigators have not said how the four were killed, it was announced that baby Aroohi Dheri was left for dead and died from exposure.