Merced County Sheriff Vern Warnke said that the suspect in the murders of the Indian-origin family in the US state of California had an old dispute with the dead.
Jesus Manuel Salgado was a former employee who had a longstanding dispute with the family that “got pretty nasty,” Sheriff Warnke said.
A family spokesperson told ABC 30 that Salgado was a former employee who used to drive for the victims’ company.
Relatives of the murdered family told investigators that Salgado had sent angry text messages or emails about a year ago after working with their trucking business, Warnke said.
“I believe that he had someone else with him and at least helping him do some of the things. As far as the homicide itself, we are going to let the evidence take us where it needs to take us,” Warnke said.
The suspect in the kidnapping and killing of the four California family members, including their baby, was arrested late Thursday. Salgado was arrested on four counts of murder and four counts of kidnapping.
“Jesus Manuel Salgado, the suspect in the kidnapping and murder of Aroohi Dheri, Jasleen Kaur, Jasdeep Singh, and Amandeep Singh, was booked into the Merced County Jail. He was arrested for 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,” said Merced County Sheriff’s Office.
Salgado, 48, is accused of kidnapping and killing 8-month-old Aroohi Dheri, her parents Jasleen Kaur and Jasdeep Singh, and her uncle Amandeep Singh. He was booked into the Merced County Jail, the sheriff’s office said in a statement.
After days of searching for the victims who were reported missing Monday, authorities recovered their bodies in a farm area Wednesday after a farmworker alerted them to remains in an orchard in central California’s Merced County.
The bodies of four members of the family, who originally hail from Punjab in India were discovered lying close to each other by a farm worker in a remote orchard in Merced county, Sheriff Vern Warnke said on Wednesday.
“Tonight our worse fears have been confirmed,” the Sheriff said addressing a press conference. “We found four people from the kidnapping. They are in fact dead,” Sheriff Vern Warnke said.
“The family (of the victims) have been notified. We have made arrangements through other contacts to try and get them,” he said. The police will process the scene of crime to determine the motive for the killings, he said.
36-year-old Jasdeep Singh, 27-year-old Jasleen Kaur, their eight-month-old child Aroohi Dheri, along with 39-year-old Amandeep Singh were abducted, police said.
Salgado was previously in prison for nearly a decade after being convicted of attempted false imprisonment, first-degree robbery and possession of a controlled substance, according to records from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
The family was kidnapped at gunpoint – an abduction recorded on surveillance video – from their trucking business Monday morning in Merced, authorities said. Investigators learned they were missing after a family vehicle was found abandoned and on fire that morning, authorities said.
The suspect attempted to die by suicide sometime before he was taken into custody, and he has been receiving medical attention.
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