Update, 9 a.m., Thursday, Oct. 6:
A baby girl, her parents, and an uncle were found dead in a Merced County orchard two days after they were kidnapped at gunpoint from their business, police said.
“Our worst fears have been confirmed,” Merced County Sheriff Vern Warnke said at a Wednesday night news conference.
Warnke did not release any information about how and when police believe they were killed. He said the victims were close to each other when found by a farm worker in a remote area near Indiana and Hutchins roads.
The grim announcement came after authorities earlier Wednesday released surveillance video of a man kidnapping 8-month-old Aroohi Dheri; her mother Jasleen Kaur, 27; father Jasdeep Singh, 36; and uncle Amandeep Singh, 39, on Monday.
Authorities said they were taken by a convicted robber who tried to kill himself a day after the kidnappings. Jesus Salgado, 48, was in critical condition when taken into custody but has been talking to police, Warnke said.
No motive for the kidnapping has been established, Warnke said.
MERCED — A man suspected of kidnapping a Sikh family, including an 8-month-old baby, in Merced tried to kill himself Tuesday and is hospitalized in critical condition, authorities say.
However, the family is still missing.
The Merced County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement that investigators identified Jesus Salgado, 48, after he used a victim’s ATM card. Authorities previously said that family members were taken against their will at gunpoint from a Merced business in the 800 block of South Highway 59 on Monday.
Detectives obtained a surveillance photo from the ATM in Atwater and “the person is similar in appearance to the surveillance photo from the original kidnapping scene,” the office said in a statement. The sheriff’s office had released two still images of a possible suspect seen in surveillance footage and asked for the public’s help in identifying him.
Detectives received information that identified Salgado as a person of interest and that he attempted to take his own life before police arrived, the statement said, without specifying where he was taken into custody.
The kidnapper took the baby, Aroohi Dheri; the child’s mother, Jasleen Kaur, 27; father Jasdeep Singh, 36; and uncle Amandeep Singh, 39, said Merced County Sheriff Vern Warnke in a video published Monday on Facebook.
Warnke said the kidnapper made no ransom demands or contact of any kind.
The sheriff’s office asks that anyone with information about the kidnapping or the family’s whereabouts call the tip line at (209) 385-7547. Tipsters can remain confidential.
Family Owns a Trucking Company
Family members told KXTV-TV that the family, which has a trucking company, was taken from an office that they had only opened about a week earlier.
“My husband is very peaceful and calm person. We don’t have any clue why they kidnapped them,” said Jaspreet Caur, wife of the kidnapped uncle.
The sheriff said detectives believe the kidnapper destroyed unspecified evidence in an attempt to cover his tracks.
The sheriff’s office said in a statement Tuesday that firefighters on Monday found a pickup truck belonging to Amandeep Singh that was on fire. Merced Police Department officers went to Amandeep Singh’s home where a family member tried to reach him and the couple. When they were not able to reach their family members, they called the sheriff’s office to report them missing, the office said.
The sheriff’s office said the FBI, the state Department of Justice, and other local law enforcement agencies are helping with the investigation.