The suspect in the kidnapping and murdering a middle class California family The family’s former employee had a long-running feud with them that “got really bad,” authorities said Thursday.
Relatives of the deceased’s family told investigators that Jesus Salgado, 48, sent angry text messages or emails to the family about a year ago after working with their trucking business, Merced County Sheriff Vern Warnke told The Associated Press.
A farm worker reported the deceased on Wednesday evening and local officials found the bodies of eight-month-old Aroohi Dheri; his 27-year-old mother, Jasleen Kaur; his 36-year-old father, Jasdeep Singh; and his 39-year-old uncle, Amandeep Singh in a remote area near the town of Dos Palos, California, about 30 miles south of Merced, California. The family that was killed was between the rows of an almond orchard.
Warnke said he believes the family was killed before their relatives said that they died on Monday.
Warnke did not share the condition of the adults’ remains and said it was unclear how the child died. He said the child was not visibly injured and an autopsy will be conducted.
“Our thoughts are with the family in their time of grief and we ask that everyone respect their privacy,” the sheriff’s office added.
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All four victims were allegedly robbed at gunpoint by Salgado at their business in Merced on Monday, authorities said. Salgado was identified as a person of interest Tuesday after detectives were notified that one of the victim’s ATM cards was used at a bank in Atwater, California, a small town about eight miles west-northwest of Merced, according to the sheriff’s office.
Salgado was arrested on Tuesday afternoon. The sheriff’s office announced Thursday evening that Salgado was booked into the Merced County Jail. He was arrested on four counts of murder and four counts of kidnapping.
After attempting to kill himself, Salgado was hospitalized in critical condition. He is still being treated and being interviewed by investigators, authorities said.
Investigators are also looking for a person of interest who may have been Salgado’s accomplice, Warnke said. Detectives also believe Salgado destroyed undisclosed evidence in an attempt to cover his tracks.
Authorities are still looking for a motive for the robbery, Warnke said Wednesday. But Warnke said he believes the motive was financial, adding that there is no evidence that the incident may have been a hate crime.
The victims were Punjabi Sikhs, a community in central California that has a significant presence in the trucking business with many of them driving trucks, owning trucking companies, or other trucking-related businesses.
Following Monday’s robbery, a massive search was launched and the public was asked to help. Surveillance photos were released and authorities described the footage, showing how the family was abducted.
Distribution: The Associated Press