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Sheriff: 8-month-old among four family members kidnapped in California, person of interest in custody


(NEW YORK) — A person of interest is in custody in connection with the kidnapping of four family members, including an 8-month-old girl, who remain missing, authorities said.

Eight-month-old Aroohi Dheri and her parents — 27-year-old mother Jasleen Kaur and 36-year-old father Jasdeep Singh — were taken against their will from a business in Merced County in Northern California on Monday, Merced County Sheriff Vern Warnke said. The baby’s uncle, 39-year-old uncle Amandeep Singh, was also kidnapped, the sheriff said.

A person of interest in the case is currently in custody, authorities said Tuesday. The man — identified as 48-year-old Jesus Manuel Salgado — attempted to take his own life “prior to law enforcement involvement” and is currently in critical condition receiving medical attention, the Merced County Sheriff’s Office said.

The update comes after detectives received information Tuesday morning that one of the victim’s ATM cards was used at a bank in the city of Atwater, in Merced County, the sheriff’s office said.

The sheriff’s office initially said a subject captured in surveillance footage making a transaction at the bank matched the appearance of a suspect seen in surveillance footage at the kidnapping scene. The sheriff’s office later said a photo of the person at the ATM was not the person of interest who is in custody, and that it’s working with the bank to obtain the correct photo.

The four family members have not been found.

“Investigators continue to follow up on all leads and are working diligently to find the family,” the sheriff’s office said. “We continue to ask for the public’s help with any information that may assist us in locating the family’s whereabouts.”

No motive is known, the sheriff said.

“It’s imperative that we get some information on this. So far, as I know, no contact has been made, no ransom demands, nothing from the suspects,” the sheriff said.

The sheriff’s office announced on Tuesday that Amandeep Singh’s truck had been found on fire shortly before noon on Monday.

Police went to Amandeep Singh’s home around 12:35 p.m. Monday; while they couldn’t locate him, they did speak to another relative, the sheriff’s office said. When the relative couldn’t reach Jasleen Kaur, Jasdeep Singh or Amandeep Singh, the relative reported them missing, the sheriff’s office said.

Sheriff’s officials then responded to a business, and “during the primary investigation, detectives determined that the individuals were kidnapped,” the sheriff’s office said Tuesday.

“We’ve got detectives out canvassing, we’ve had aircraft out looking for evidence. People are gonna be working 24 hours on this until we get a break in this,” he said. “We’ve got to bring this family home safely.”

Merced County is located between San Francisco and Fresno.

The FBI, California Department of Justice and local law enforcement agencies are involved in the search, the sheriff’s office said.

Anyone with information on the family’s whereabouts is asked to call the Merced County Sheriff’s Office at 209-385-7445.

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