Suspect, brother in custody after 4 kidnapped Merced County family members found dead

The sheriff called the killings "horribly senseless."

October 7, 2022, 12:31 PM

Two brothers are in custody after four kidnapped family members were found dead in a rural almond orchard in Northern California, the Merced County sheriff said.

Eight-month-old Aroohi Dheri and her parents -- 27-year-old mother Jasleen Kaur and 36-year-old father Jasdeep Singh -- were taken against their will from a business on Monday, Merced County Sheriff Vern Warnke said. The baby's uncle, 39-year-old Amandeep Singh, was also kidnapped, the sheriff said.

PHOTO: 8-month-old Aroohi Dheri is pictured in an image posted by Merced County Sheriff's Office via Facebook. She, along with her parents, Jasdeep Singh and Jasleen Kaur, were taken against their will from a Merced County, Calif. business.
8-month-old Aroohi Dheri is pictured in an image posted by Merced County Sheriff's Office via Facebook. She, along with her parents, Jasdeep Singh and Jasleen Kaur, were taken against their will from a Merced County, Calif. business.
Merced County Sheriff's Office/Facebook
PHOTO: 8-month-old Aroohi Dheri, mother Jasleen Kaur and father Jasdeep Singh, who were taken against their will from a Merced County, Calif. business, are seen in an image posted by Merced County Sheriff's Office via Facebook.
8-month-old Aroohi Dheri, her mother Jasleen Kaur (27) and her father Jasdeep Singh (36) were taken against their will from a business in the 800 Block of South Highway 59 in Merced County, Calif., are seen in an image posted by Merced County Sheriff's Office to their Facebook account.
Merced County Sheriff's Office/Facebook

The suspected kidnapper, 48-year-old Jesus Manuel Salgado, was taken into custody on Tuesday and booked into the Merced County Jail on Thursday, the sheriff's office said. He was arrested on four counts of murder and four counts of kidnapping, according to the sheriff's office.

PHOTO: Jesus Salgado, suspected of kidnapping a Sikh family  at gunpoint in central California, on Oct. 2, 2022, in a police mugshot. Detectives said Salgado tried to kill himself Tuesday and is hospitalized in critical condition.
Jesus Salgado, suspected of kidnapping a Sikh family at gunpoint in central California, on Oct. 2, 2022, in a police mugshot. Detectives said Salgado tried to kill himself Tuesday and is hospitalized in critical condition.
Merced County Sheriff's Office via AP

The sheriff called it "horribly senseless."

His brother, Alberto Salgado, was arrested Thursday night for criminal conspiracy, accessory and destroying evidence, the sheriff's office said.

Jesus Salgado attempted to take his own life "prior to law enforcement involvement" on Tuesday and was receiving medical attention, which delayed investigators' ability to talk to him, the sheriff's office said. Warnke said Wednesday night that investigators had spoken with him. Interviews were ongoing Thursday.

Jesus Salgado was arrested in 2005 for robbery, burglary and criminal threats against a man and his family, according to the police report.

On Wednesday, sheriff's officials revealed surveillance video showing the family's movements outside the business -- a trucking company -- on the day of the kidnapping.

At 8:30 a.m. Monday, Jasdeep Singh arrived at the business in a minivan, and minutes later, his brother Amandeep Singh arrived there in his pickup truck, the sheriff's office said.

Someone was seen walking along the highway near the business that morning, officials said. Jasdeep Singh then made contact with the suspect and the two walked back toward the building, officials said.

The suspect -- identified by sheriff's officials Thursday as Jesus Salgado -- was seen on video pulling out a gun and entering the business, officials said.

PHOTO: Authorities in Central California's Merced County released surveillance video video showing the armed suspect outside the business where a family of four was kidnapped on Oct. 3, 2022.
Authorities in Central California's Merced County released surveillance video video showing the armed suspect outside the business where a family of four was kidnapped on Oct. 3, 2022.
Merced County Sheriff's Office

At 9:11 a.m., video showed the back door opening and the armed suspect exiting, officials said.

Jasdeep and Amandeep Singh were seen exiting the building, apparently with their hands zip-tied behind their backs, and were put in the back seat of the pickup truck, officials said.

PHOTO: Authorities in Central California's Merced County released a new video, Oct. 5, 2022, showing the moment a family of four was allegedly kidnapped.
Authorities in Central California's Merced County released a new video, Oct. 5, 2022, showing the moment a family of four was allegedly kidnapped. The video shows two of the family members - 36-year-old Jasdeep Singh and 39-year-old Amandeep Singh - coming out of the business with their hands zip-tied together.
Merced County Sheriff's Office

The truck left for a few minutes and then returned, and the suspect got out of the truck and went into the business, officials said.

Less than one minute later, Jasleen Kaur and her 8-month-old baby exited the business, officials said.

The final surveillance video image showed the truck leaving the business, officials said.

The four family members were the only people in the business at the time, the sheriff said.

The sheriff's office announced on Tuesday that Amandeep Singh's truck had been found on fire shortly before noon on Monday.

PHOTO: Amandeep Singh is pictured in an image posted by Merced County Sheriff's Office via Facebook.
Amandeep Singh is pictured in an image posted by Merced County Sheriff's Office via Facebook.
Merced County Sheriff's Office/Facebook

Police went to Amandeep Singh's Merced home around 12:35 p.m. Monday; while they couldn't locate him, they spoke to another relative, the sheriff's office said. When the relative couldn't reach Jasleen Kaur, Jasdeep Singh or Amandeep Singh, the relative reported them missing, the sheriff's office said.

Sheriff's officials then responded to the business, and "during the primary investigation, detectives determined that the individuals were kidnapped," the sheriff's office said Tuesday.

One of the family members' ATM cards was used at a nearby bank following the kidnappings, authorities said.

There were two bank transactions from the family's accounts, the sheriff said.

ABC News' Melissa Gaffney and Marilyn Heck contributed to this report.

ABC News Live

ABC News Live

24/7 coverage of breaking news and live events