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California Sikh family murder: Former employee with 'nasty' dispute history arrested

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California, Oct 06: A 48-year-old-man, suspect for kidnapping and murdering four members of an Indian-origin family in California has been arrested by the police.

California Sikh family murder: Former employee with nasty dispute history arrested

An 8-month-old baby and her parents were among the four people, who were kidnapped in the US state of California were found dead in an orchard, authorities said on Wednesday. The family, originally from Harsi Pind in Hoshiarpur, Punjab, was kidnapped from their newly-opened trucking business in Merced County, California.

According to a news release, detectives received information Tuesday morning that one of the victim's bank cards was used at an ATM in Atwater. A surveillance photo of the person making the transaction was similar to a surveillance photo from the original kidnapping scene.

Kidnapped Sikh family, including baby, found dead in a California orchardKidnapped Sikh family, including baby, found dead in a California orchard

Around noon, the sheriff's office identified the man as 48-year-old Jesus Manuel Salgado. According to reports, the suspect was a former employee who had a longstanding dispute with them that 'got pretty nasty', a sheriff said Thursday.

Relatives of the slain family told investigators that Jesus Salgado, 48, had sent angry text messages or emails about a year ago after working with their trucking business, Merced County Sheriff Vern Warnke told The Associated Press.

The relative also revealed that baby Aroohi Dheri was left for dead and died from exposure, the report said. Warnke also said that he believes there might be a second person involved in the kidnapping and killings, but investigators are still collecting evidence. "If that person is watching, might as well turn yourself in," Warnke was quoted as saying by NBC Bay area.

"Our detectives are like bulldogs. They're not going to give up. Once we find or determine that there was in fact a second person, they're going to go after and go after hard," he said.

The longstanding dispute between Salgado and the victims "got pretty nasty," Warnke was quoted as saying by KTVU television station.

Public records show the family owns Unison Trucking Inc. and family members said they had recently opened an office for it in a parking lot the Singh brothers also operated, the report added. Salgado was officially booked into the Merced County Jail on four counts of kidnapping and four counts of murder on Thursday evening. Deputies say he tried killing himself before being taken into custody on Tuesday. The report added that Amandeep, the baby's uncle, is survived by his wife and two kids in their teens.

Earlier, the Merced Country Sheriff's Office said the bodies of 36-year-old Jasdeep Singh, 27-year-old Jasleen Kaur, their eight-month-old child Aroohi Dheri and the baby's uncle, 39-year-old Amandeep Singh were found on Wednesday evening in an orchard near Indiana Road & Hutchinson Road. "Our worst fears have been confirmed," he said. Warnke said that a farm worker near the orchard found the bodies and immediately contacted authorities. All of the bodies were found close together. "There are no words to describe the anger I feel," Warnke said during a press conference Wednesday evening. "There's a special place in hell for this guy," he said about Jesus Manuel Salgado, the suspect, who attempted to kill himself. "It's horribly, horribly senseless," he said.

Family members told news agency PTI that nothing was stolen from the trucking company but that their relatives were all wearing jewellery. Warnke had said that after the kidnappings, an ATM card belonging to one of the victims was used in Atwater, about 14 kilometers north of Merced. Warnke said the kidnapper made no ransom demands in what he believes was a financially motivated crime.

Earlier in the day, the Merced County Sheriff's Office released a chilling new video showing the moment the family was kidnapped. Jasdeep and Amandeep Singh came out of the business with their hands zip-tied together. Moments later, the video shows the kidnapper leading Jasleen and her 8-month-old baby, Aroohi, out of the building into a truck. Salgado, 48, the person of interest, was taken into custody Tuesday afternoon and remains in the hospital in critical condition after he tried to kill himself.

The sheriff's office said his own family contacted authorities reporting that Salgado had admitted to them he was involved with the kidnapping of the family. According to the Merced County Sheriff's Office, the investigation began on Monday at 11:39 am, when the California Highway Patrol responded to a 2020 Dodge Ram that was on fire and asked the Merced Police Department to help track down the vehicle's owner. Roughly an hour later, at 12:35 p.m., Merced police officers arrived at the truck owner's address and met with a family member there. Officers tried to contact the couple and the child's uncle, but they were not able to reach them, PTI reported.

"During the primary investigation, Detectives determined that the individuals were kidnapped," the sheriff's office stated on Tuesday. The kidnapping involved a gun and restraints, according to Deputy Alexandra Britton, public information officer for the sheriff's office.

In an initial statement about the case Monday, the sheriff's office said it believed the family was taken "against their will" from a business in the 800 block of South Highway 59 in Merced, which sits between Modesto and Fresno in central California. "We have no motivation behind it. We just know they are gone," Warnke said. Investigators have not found a link between Salgado and the family to show they knew each other before the kidnapping.

It may be recalled that in 2019 an Indian-origin techie, Tushar Atre was found dead in his girlfriend's car hours after the owner of a digital marketing company in the US were allegedly kidnapped in California.

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