Memorial to the Murdered Merced Family

Memorial to the Murdered Merced Family


San Francisco — The suspect in the kidnapping and murder of an 8-month-old baby, her parents and uncle worked in the family’s trucking business and had a long-standing feud with them that culminated in an act of “pure evil,” the sheriff said. Thursday.

Bodies of Aruhi Deri; her mother Jasleen Kaur, 27; father Jasdeep Singh, 36; and uncle Amandeep Singh, 39 found by a farm worker late Wednesday in an almond orchard in a remote area of ​​the San Joaquin Valley, California’s agricultural heartland.

Investigators were building a case against the suspect – a convicted felon who tried to take his own life a day after the abductions – and were looking for a person of interest believed to be his accomplice.

The suspect, 48-year-old Jesus Salgado, was released from the hospital Thursday night and booked into the county jail on four counts of kidnapping and murder, the sheriff’s office said. It is not known if he had an attorney who could speak on his behalf.

A Person of Interest Captured in the Kidnapping of a California Family;  4 victims remain missing
An undated photo of Jesus Manuel Salgado, 48, charged with murder and kidnapping in the kidnapping and murder of a family of four in Merced County, Central California on October 3, 2022. At right, surveillance photos of a man believed to be Salgado, taken 3 October.

Merced County Sheriff’s Office

Relatives and friends of Punjab’s Sikh community, meanwhile, were shocked by the killings.

“There are hundreds of people in the community right now who are dealing with the loss of two families, and it’s all over the world. These families are on different continents,” Merced County Sheriff Vern Warnke told the Associated Press. “We have to show them that we can give them justice.”

Warnke previously urged prosecutors to seek the death penalty. The sheriff called it one of the worst crimes he had seen in his 43 years in law enforcement and asked Salgado’s accomplice to surrender.

“There are some things you take to your grave. It was pure evil for me,” he said in an interview on Thursday.

In the city of Merced, where the family’s transportation business was located, there will be evening vigils in their memory until Sunday.

A Person of Interest Captured in the Kidnapping of a California Family;  4 victims remain missing
Undated photo of Aruhi Deri, her mother Jasleen Kaur, her father Jasdeep Singh and her uncle (right) Amandeep Singh, who authorities say were abducted and killed on October 3, 2022.

Merced County Sheriff’s Office

The bodies of the victims were found near the town of Dos Palos, about 30 miles south of Merced.

Warnke would not discuss the condition of the adults’ remains in the garden Thursday, but said it was unclear how the child died. Warnke said the child had no visible injuries and an autopsy will be performed.

Earlier he said that the dead were found “relatively close to each other”.

The sheriff emphasized that they were found in a “very rural farm, not many people come out here.”

Salgado previously had convictions for first-degree robbery with a firearm in Merced County, attempted false imprisonment and attempting to prevent or dissuade a victim or witness. Sentenced to 11 years in state prison in the case, he was released in 2015 and eligible for parole after three years, according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. He also has a criminal record for possession of a controlled substance, the department said.

Relatives of Salgado contacted authorities and told them he confessed to them about his involvement in the kidnapping, Warnke told KFSN-TV on Tuesday. Salgado tried to take his own life before police arrived at a home in Atwater — where an ATM card belonging to one of the victims was used after the abduction — about 9 miles north of Merced.

Attempts to reach Salgado’s family were unsuccessful Thursday.

The victims were Punjabi Sikhs, a community in central California that has a significant trucking presence, many of them driving trucks, owning trucking companies or other trucking-related businesses.

Public records show the family owns Unison Trucking Inc., and relatives said in the past few weeks they opened an office in the parking lot also operated by the Singh brothers. The feud with Salgado began a year ago, the sheriff said, and “got pretty nasty” in text messages and emails. Other details about Salgado’s work and the nature of the dispute were not available.

Warnke said he believes the family was killed within an hour of the Monday morning abduction, when they were taken at gunpoint from their business.

Video from surveillance cameras was shown the suspect — later identified as Salgada — leads the Singh brothers, whose hands were tied behind their backs, into the back seat of Amandeep Singh’s pickup truck. He chased the brothers away and returned a few minutes later.

The suspect then returned to the trailer, which served as an office, and led Jasleen Kaur, who was carrying the child, into the truck before the suspect drove them away shortly before 9:30 a.m.

Hours later Monday, firefighters found Amandeep Singh’s truck on fire in Vinton, 10 miles north of Merced. Police officers went to Amandeep Singh’s home, where a family member tried to contact him and the couple. When they couldn’t reach their family members, they called the sheriff’s office to report them missing.

They were probably already dead.