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Suspect, brother in custody after four kidnapped Merced County family members found dead

(MERCED COUNTY, Calif.) — Two brothers are in custody after four kidnapped family members were found dead in a rural almond orchard in Northern California, the Merced County sheriff 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 on Monday, Merced County Sheriff Vern Warnke said. The baby’s uncle, 39-year-old Amandeep Singh, was also kidnapped, the sheriff said.

The suspected kidnapper, 48-year-old Jesus Manuel Salgado, was taken into custody on Tuesday and booked into the Merced County Jail on Thursday, the sheriff’s office said. He was arrested on four counts of murder and four counts of kidnapping, according to the sheriff’s office.

The sheriff called it “horribly senseless.”

His brother, Alberto Salgado, was arrested Thursday night for criminal conspiracy, accessory and destroying evidence, the sheriff’s office said.

Jesus Salgado attempted to take his own life “prior to law enforcement involvement” on Tuesday and was receiving medical attention, which delayed investigators’ ability to talk to him, the sheriff’s office said. Warnke said Wednesday night that investigators had spoken with him. Interviews were ongoing Thursday.

Jesus Salgado was arrested in 2005 for robbery, burglary and criminal threats against a man and his family, according to the police report.

On Wednesday, sheriff’s officials revealed surveillance video showing the family’s movements outside the business — a trucking company — on the day of the kidnapping.

At 8:30 a.m. Monday, Jasdeep Singh arrived at the business in a minivan, and minutes later, his brother Amandeep Singh arrived there in his pickup truck, the sheriff’s office said.

Someone was seen walking along the highway near the business that morning, officials said. Jasdeep Singh then made contact with the suspect and the two walked back toward the building, officials said.

The suspect — identified by sheriff’s officials Thursday as Salgado — was seen on video pulling out a gun and entering the business, officials said.

At 9:11 a.m., video showed the back door opening and the armed suspect exiting, officials said.

Jasdeep and Amandeep Singh were seen exiting the building, apparently with their hands zip-tied behind their backs, and were put in the back seat of the pickup truck, officials said.

The truck left for a few minutes and then returned, and the suspect got out of the truck and went into the business, officials said.

Less than one minute later, Jasleen Kaur and her 8-month-old baby exited the business, officials said.

The final surveillance video image showed the truck leaving the business, officials said.

The four family members were the only people in the business at the time, 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 Merced home around 12:35 p.m. Monday; while they couldn’t locate him, they spoke 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 the business, and “during the primary investigation, detectives determined that the individuals were kidnapped,” the sheriff’s office said Tuesday.

One of the family members’ ATM cards was used at a nearby bank following the kidnappings, authorities said.

There were two bank transactions from the family’s accounts, the sheriff said.

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