The bodies of four kidnapped family members in California have been found
The Merced County Sheriff’s Office said Wednesday night that the bodies of four members of a missing family were found in a remote area of a farm. Merced County Sheriff Vern Warnke said eight-month-old Aruhi Deri and her parents, Jasleen Kaur, 27, and Jasdeep Singh, 36, were forcibly removed from a business in Northern California’s Merced County on Monday.
The sheriff also said Amandeep Singh, the baby’s uncle, 39, had been taken away. Warnke said Wednesday evening that a local farm worker discovered the bodies of the family members, who were located close together. “We don’t know all the facts yet,” the sheriff said, so the scene will be processed by the Justice Department’s crime lab.
The sheriff described it as “horribly senseless” and said there was currently no information to suggest a motive. Warnke claims that he had contact with the criminal, but did not provide more information about the conversation. Warnke said the family has been notified.
On Tuesday, police released surveillance footage of the kidnapping and arrested a person of interest the same day. Earlier on Wednesday, a relative remarked at a news conference: “We are crushed, we are terrified, we are dying any moment.”
The sheriff’s office released dashcam footage of the news conference, which shows the family leaving the trucking company on the day they were abducted. The sheriff’s office said that at 8:30 a.m. Monday, Jasdeep Singh arrived in a minivan and his brother, Amandeep Singh, arrived in a pickup truck.
A man was reportedly seen walking on the highway near the establishment this morning. The suspect and Jasdeep Singh then returned to the building, with Singh making contact with the man. Authorities say the man was caught on camera bringing a gun into the establishment.
The armed suspect reportedly left the building through a rear exit at 9:11 a.m., as captured on surveillance footage. Authorities said they saw Jasdeep and Amandeep Singh leave the building and get into the back of a pickup truck with their hands tied behind their backs.
Officials say the truck drove away for several minutes before returning, at which point the suspect exited the vehicle and entered the establishment. According to authorities, Jasleen Kaur and her 8-month-old baby left the establishment less than a minute later.
The truck was last seen leaving the building on CCTV footage, authorities added. According to the sheriff, only four members of the family were working at the time. On Tuesday, police said they had arrested 48-year-old Jesus Manuel Salgado, who was a person of interest in the investigation.
According to the sheriff’s office, Salgado attempted suicide “prior to the intervention of law enforcement” and is currently in critical condition at the hospital. As far as authorities know, investigators have not been able to question him. According to Warnke, there is no explanation for the incident.
According to the sheriff’s interview with ABC News on Tuesday, “we don’t know if there is a history” between the person of interest and the family. On Wednesday, the sheriff said, “This person is our main lead right now.” According to the sheriff, he believes there is at least one other suspect.
On Tuesday, the sheriff’s office said Amandeep Singh’s truck was found in flames Monday at noon. The sheriff’s office said at 12:35 a.m. Monday they attempted to contact Amandeep Singh at his residence in Merced but were unsuccessful. According to the sheriff’s office, a family member filed a missing person report after being unable to contact Jasleen Kaur, Jasdeep Singh or Amandeep Singh.
When deputies arrived, “during the initial investigation, investigators discovered that the individuals had been abducted,” the sheriff’s office said Tuesday. The sheriff said there were two withdrawals from the family’s bank accounts. At least one of the victim’s ATM cards was reportedly used at a bank in Atwater, Merced County, according to reports released Tuesday.
The sheriff’s office initially said a suspect seen on surveillance footage at the scene of the kidnapping matched the description of a man seen making a transaction at the bank. However, the sheriff’s office later clarified that the person pictured on the ATM was not the person of interest who is now in jail.
According to the sheriff’s office, the search was conducted by the FBI, the California Department of Justice and local law enforcement. Between the two major cities of California, San Francisco and Fresno, in Merced County.
Update: The sheriff’s office initially said a person seen on surveillance camera making a transaction at the bank matched the description of a suspect seen on surveillance video at the scene of the kidnapping.
The sheriff’s office later clarified that the suspect pictured on the ATM is not the one currently in jail and that it is cooperating with the bank to get the correct image. Fox News on ABC This report was co-written by Melissa Gaffney and Marilyn Heck.