The man suspected of kidnapping and killing a California Sikh family, including their eight-month-old baby, worked for the family’s trucking business and had a long-running feud with them that culminated in an act of ‘pure evil,’ said the Merced County sheriff.
The bodies of the family, including eight-month-old Aroohi Dheri; her mother Jasleen Kaur, 27; father Jasdeep Singh, 36; and uncle Amandeep Singh, 39, were found late Wednesday by a farm worker in an almond orchard in the San Joaquin Valley.
Investigators are preparing a case against the convicted felon suspected of the crime and are currently seeking a person of interest they believe to be his accomplice.
The suspect, 48-year-old Jesus Salgado, attempted to kill himself the day after the kidnappings.
Sheriff Verne Warnke of Merced, California said Salgado had a feud with the Singh brothers that dated back a year and got ‘pretty nasty’ according to text messages and emails.
The precise nature of the dispute between the parties remains unclear.
Salgado was released from the hospital and booked into the county jail Thursday night on suspicion of kidnapping and murder.
Law enforcement officers previously said that Salgado grew violent each time he regained consciousness.
The sheriff’s office said it was unclear if he had a lawyer who could speak on his behalf.
Warnke has called for the prosecutors to seek the death penalty against Salgado.
Jasleen Kaur (pictured left), 27, her husband Jasdeep Singh (pictured center) and their eight-month-old daughter Aroohi Dheri (pictured right) have all been found dead
Jesus Salgado, 48, was arrested Tuesday in Merced, California. He reportedly had a longstanding feud with the family he is suspected of killing
He called it one of the worst crimes he’d ever seen in his 43 years in law enforcement.
‘There’s some things you’ll take to the grave. This to me was pure evil.’
‘Right now, I´ve got hundreds of people in a community that are grieving the loss of two families, and this is worldwide. These families are across different continents,’ Werne told the Associated Press.
‘We´ve got to show them that we can give them justice.’
Salgado was previously convicted of first-degree robbery with the use of a firearm in Merced County, where the family’s trucking business is located. He was also convicted of attempted false imprisonment and an attempt to prevent or dissuade a victim or witness.
He was sentenced to 11 years in state prison for those charges and was released in 2015.
He also has a conviction for possession of a controlled substance, according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
Surveillance video showed the suspect leading the brothers, whose hands were zip-tied, into the back seat of Amandeep Singh’s pickup truck. Salgado then drove the brothers away and returned for Jasleen and her baby, who he led into the truck and drove away before 9.30am.
Several hours later, Singh’s truck was found on fire 10 miles away in the town of Winton.
By the time law enforcement arrived at Amandeep Singh’s home, where a family member tried to contact him and the couple, they were likely already dead.
‘I fully believe that there was one other person involved. We don’t have any evidence to support that. It’s just the circumstances surrounding this,’ said Warnke.
Before the heartbreaking discovery of the bodies, relatives of the victims asked anyone who owns a convenience store or gas station in the area to check their surveillance cameras for images of the suspect or the family.
‘Please help us out, come forward, so my family comes home safe,’ Sukhdeep Singh, a brother of the victims, said, his voice breaking.
The four family members were taken from their business in Merced, a city of 86,000 people about 125 miles southeast of San Francisco in the San Joaquin Valley, California’s agricultural heartland.
Family members told KXTV-TV that the office for Unison Trucking Inc., the family’s business, had only opened about a week earlier.
Merced County sheriff has called for the death penalty for Salgado, who is suspected of kidnapping and murdering four people, including an eight-month-old
Salgado attempted to kill himself before police arrived at his house to arrest him. Law enforcement officers say he becomes violent each time he regains consciousness
Before Bodies: Sukhdep Singh, a relative of the family kidnapped recently, spoke with the media in Merced before the bodies of his family were found Wednesday
A map shows key locations in the kidnapping and murder case in Merced County, California
Salgado was previously arrested in December of 2005, according to a Merced County Sheriff’s Office report.
On the night of December 12th, Salgado robbed a family for whom he formerly worked at gun point. He had been fired.
The man, who owned a central valley trucking company, said Salgado had worked for him for two years.
‘I went to shut the front door when he pulled out a gun and held it to the back of my head,’ the man said. Salgado then duct taped the man’s hands together, as well as his wife, his 16-year-old daughter and his daughter’s friends. He then proceeded to steal ‘all the money we had, rings, that kind of stuff,’ the man said.
The man said Salgado even took the ring off his wife’s finger, before making the family jump into the pool – telling them he would kill them if they called the police.
Despite the threat, the man said his family did call the police – and Salgado was arrested the next morning, court records seen by KSEE24 show. He was jailed for 11 years in 2007. He spent eight years in prison and a further three on probation.
He was on active probation at the time of the robbery.
The city of Merced will hold evening vigils for the memory of the deceased Thursday through Sunday.