Death of Sikh family in California was a disgruntled former worker

Authorities said they were kidnapped from the family's trucking business in the central California city of Merced, and parts of the kidnapping were captured on surveillance video.
The suspect in the kidnapping and killing of the four family members was arrested on Thursday.
The suspect in the kidnapping and killing of the four family members was arrested on Thursday.

SAN FRANCISCO: A man arrested in connection with the kidnapping and killings of four Indian-origin Sikh family members, including a baby girl, used to work for their trucking business and had a longstanding feud with them that got ''pretty nasty'' and led to their senseless murder, authorities and a relative 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 a rural orchard in the US state of California after they were kidnapped at gunpoint on Monday.

Authorities said they were kidnapped from the family's trucking business in the central California city of Merced, and parts of the kidnapping were captured on surveillance video.

Jesus Manuel Salgado, 48, was formally arrested late on Thursday on four counts of murder and four counts of kidnapping in the case, Merced County sheriff's spokesperson Alexandra Britton said.

Police said, Salgado, a convicted felon, tried killing himself before being taken into custody on Tuesday.

''The primary suspect in the kidnapping and murder, Salgado, is a former employee who used to drive for the victim's trucking company.

They had a disagreement and parted ways,'' a relative of the deceased family was quoted as saying by the NBC Bay Area television station.

The relative also said that baby Aroohi Dheri was left for dead and died from exposure.

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 said.

''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.

Relatives of the family told investigators that Salgado had sent angry text messages or emails about a year ago after working with the trucking business, Warnke said.

Family members said 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.

Public records show the family, originally from Harsi Pind in Hoshiarpur, Punjab, owned Unison Trucking Inc. Family members said they had recently opened an office for it in a parking lot the Singh brothers also operated.

Amandeep, the baby's uncle, is survived by his wife and two children in their teens.

Meanwhile, the city of Merced has organised a candlelight vigil for the family every night at 7 pm from October 6 to October 9.

Warnke did not say how the family was killed, adding that it appears they were killed before they were reported missing on Monday.

Salgado, already a convicted robber, was previously convicted of first-degree robbery with the use of a firearm in Merced County, as well as attempted false imprisonment and an attempt to prevent or dissuade a victim or witness. He was sentenced to 11 years in state prison in that case, according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

He was released from prison in 2015 and discharged from parole three years later. He also has a conviction for possession of a controlled substance, the corrections agency said.

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