The sheriff of Merced County said Wednesday night that the bodies of four members of a missing family had been discovered in a remote farm region. Merced County Sheriff Vern Warnke claimed that on Monday, eight-month-old Aroohi Dheri and her parents, Jasleen Kaur, 27, and Jasdeep Singh, 36, were forcibly removed from a business in Merced County in Northern California.
The sheriff also said that Amandeep Singh, the baby’s uncle, age 39, had been taken. Warnke said Wednesday night that a local farm worker discovered the bodies of the family members, who were located near one another. “We don’t know all the facts yet,” the sheriff stated, so the scene will be processed by the Department of Justice’s crime lab.
The sheriff described it as “horribly senseless” and said there was currently no information to suggest a motive. Warnke claimed he had contact with the criminal but gave no further information about the conversation. Warnke said that the family had been informed.
Police published surveillance footage in connection with the kidnapping on Tuesday, and that same day they arrested a person of interest. Earlier on Wednesday, a relative remarked at a news conference, “We are crushed, we are horrified, we are dying every moment.”
The sheriff’s office released surveillance footage at the press conference that showed the family leaving the trucking company on the day they were abducted. The sheriff’s office reported that on Monday at 8:30 a.m., Jasdeep Singh drove up in a minivan and his brother Amandeep Singh drove up in a pickup truck.
That morning, a person was reportedly seen strolling down the highway close to the establishment. The suspect and Jasdeep Singh then moved back toward the building, with Singh contacting the man. Officials claim the man was caught on camera bringing a gun into the establishment.
The armed suspect reportedly left the building by a rear exit at 9:11 a.m., as captured on surveillance footage. Authorities said they saw Jasdeep and Amandeep Singh leave the building and get into the back of a pickup truck with their hands bound behind their backs.
Officials say the truck drove away for a few minutes before returning, at which point the suspect exited the vehicle and entered the establishment. According to authorities, Jasleen Kaur and her 8-month-old baby left the establishment less than a minute later.
The truck was last seen exiting the building on the CCTV footage, authorities added. According to the sheriff, only the four family members were working at the time. On Tuesday, police said they had arrested Jesus Manuel Salgado, 48, who was a person of interest in an investigation.
According to the sheriff’s office, Salgado attempted suicide “before law enforcement involvement” and is currently in critical condition in the hospital. As far as officials are aware, investigators have not been able to interview him. According to Warnke, there is no explanation for the incident.
According to the sheriff’s interview with ABC News on Tuesday, “we don’t know if there’s history” between the person of interest and the family. On Wednesday, the sheriff stated, “That guy right now is our primary lead.” According to the sheriff, he thinks there’s at least one more suspect.
On Tuesday, the sheriff’s office said that Amandeep Singh’s truck had been discovered ablaze on Monday, at noon. The sheriff’s office reported that at 12:35 p.m. on Monday, they attempted to contact Amandeep Singh at his Merced residence, but were unable to do so. According to the sheriff’s office, a family member filed a missing person report after being unable to contact Jasleen Kaur, Jasdeep Singh, or Amandeep Singh.
When deputies arrived, “during the primary investigation, investigators discovered that the individuals were kidnapped,” the sheriff’s office said Tuesday. The sheriff stated there were two withdrawals from the family’s bank accounts. At least one of the victim’s ATM cards was reportedly used at a bank in Atwater, Merced County, according to reports released Tuesday.
At first, the sheriff’s office said that a suspect seen on surveillance tape at the kidnapping site matched the description of a person spotted completing a transaction at the bank. However, the sheriff’s office later clarified that the person pictured at the ATM was not the person of interest now in jail.
According to the sheriff’s office, the search was conducted by the FBI, the California Department of Justice, and local law enforcement. Between the two major cities of California, San Francisco and Fresno, in Merced County.
Update: The sheriff’s office originally said that a person seen on surveillance camera conducting a transaction at the bank matched the description of a suspect spotted on surveillance footage at the kidnapping location.
The sheriff’s office then clarified that the suspect pictured at the ATM is not the one currently in jail and that it is collaborating with the bank to obtain the proper image. Fox News on ABC This report was co-written by Melissa Gaffney and Marilyn Heck.