MERCED COUNTY, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) — The bodies of the four missing family members who were abducted from their store Monday have been found dead, according to the Merced County Sheriff’s Office.
Jasleen Kaur, 27, Jasdeep Singh, 36, Amandeep Singh, 39, and Aroohi Dheri, eight months, were found dead in an orchard near Dos Palos, which officials describe as “very, very remote”. on Wednesday evening.
The Merced County Sheriff’s Office said they received a call around 5 p.m. from a farmer who gave them the whereabouts of the victims after they found them.
Details of how the victims died were not released.
Suspect 48-year-old Jesus Manuel Salgado spoke to officers, according to Merced County Sheriff Vern Warnke.
The bodies were found near the area where deputies found the victim’s phones.
No motive for the kidnapping was found, he said.
“There are no words right now to describe the anger I feel and the futility of this incident,” Warnke said. “I said it before: There’s a special place in Hell for this guy.”
Investigators, including forensic scientists from the California Department of Justice, would work the crime scene throughout the night, Warnke said.
The four family members were taken from their business in Merced, a town of 86,000 people about 200 kilometers southeast of San Francisco in the San Joaquin Valley, California’s agricultural heartland.
Relatives of Salgado contacted authorities and said he had admitted to them that he was involved in the kidnapping, Warnke told KFSN-TV on Tuesday. Salgado attempted suicide before police arrived at a home in nearby Atwater and has since been hospitalized.
Attempts to reach Salgado’s family were unsuccessful on Wednesday.
Video released on Wednesday showed the suspect first walking past the property before speaking to one of the men. It later shows him leading the men, who had their hands zip-locked together behind their backs, into the back seat of Amandeep Singh’s pickup truck. The suspect then walked back to the trailer used as a business office and led Jasdeep Singh, who was carrying her baby, out and into the truck before the suspect drove away.
Family members said nothing was stolen by the trucking company, but their relatives all wore jewelry. Warnke had said that after the kidnappings in Atwater, about 14 kilometers north of Merced, an ATM card from one of the victims was used.
Warnke said the kidnapper made no ransom demands.
Investigators were trying to discover a motive for the killings, the sheriff said.
“We wiped out a whole family and for what? We don’t know yet,” he said.
Relatives of the victims have been informed of the deaths, the sheriff said.
“We’re hoping they can at least have some sort of closure now,” Warnke said, adding, “It’s not the closure we were hoping for; it’s not the degree they were hoping for.”
Family members had previously asked anyone who owned a supermarket or gas station in the area to check their surveillance cameras for pictures of the suspect or missing people. They said they were concerned that the baby was not being fed because the family did not have any baby food with them at the time of the kidnapping.
“Please help us, come forward so my family can get home safely,” said Sukhdeep Singh, a brother of the victims, his voice cracking.
Salgado had previously been convicted of first-degree robbery involving the use of a firearm in Merced County, as well as attempted false imprisonment and attempting to prevent or dissuade a victim or witness. He was sentenced to 11 years in prison in that case, according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
He was released from prison in 2015 and paroled three years later. He is also convicted of possession of a controlled substance, the Corrections Department said.
Investigators have found no connection between Salgado and the family to show they knew each other prior to the kidnapping.
“Right now we think it was accidental,” Deputy Alexandra Britton said. “We have no evidence to prove otherwise.”
Family members had told KXTV-TV that the office of Unison Trucking Inc., the family business, had only opened about a week earlier.
“My husband is a very peaceful and calm person. We have no idea why they kidnapped her,” said Jaspreet Caur, the kidnapped uncle’s wife.
The sheriff said detectives believe the kidnapper destroyed unspecified evidence to cover his tracks.
The sheriff’s office said firefighters found Amandeep Singh’s truck on fire Monday. Officers from the Merced Police Department went to Amandeep Singh’s home, where a family member tried to reach him and the couple. When they couldn’t reach her family members, they called the Merced County Sheriff’s Office to report her missing, the office said.
Merced County Undersheriff Corey Gibson said a farmer found a phone belonging to one of the victims on a street in Dos Palos, a town 30 miles (48 kilometers) southwest of Merced, and answered it when the family called.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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