Investigators in California are working to determine the motive behind the killing of a family of four – including an 8-month-old baby – as the bodies were recovered in a rural farm area on Wednesday after a gunman abducted them earlier this week Business.
A farm worker first found the body of 8-month-old Aroohi Dheri in an orchard in California’s Merced County, near her parents Jasleen Kaur and Jasdeep Singh, authorities said.
The child’s uncle, Amandeep Singh, was also found nearby, and the worker notified authorities around 5:30 p.m. local time on Wednesday.
“An entire family was wiped out and we still don’t know why,” Merced County Sheriff Vern Warnke said during a news conference Wednesday after the bodies were recovered.
The family was reported missing Monday when authorities said the family was kidnapped at gunpoint from their truck shop in the town of Merced, which lies between Modesto and Fresno in central California.
Police have taken a 48-year-old suspect into custody but he has not been charged. CNN did not name the suspect because no charges had been filed against him as of late Wednesday.
“The circumstances of when we can release everything should piss you to death,” said Warnke, who was visibly emotional and frustrated at what happened to the family. “There’s a special place in Hell for this guy.”
Warnke did not say how the family was killed, adding that they appeared to have been killed before they were reported missing on Monday.
Authorities believe the person they have in custody is the prime suspect in the killings, although they indicated other people may have been involved, according to Warnke, who did not elaborate on the extent of that involvement.
“I have every faith that we will uncover and find out that more than just him was involved,” Warnke said.
The detained suspect provided information to investigators and officers were working with him to identify a motive, Warnke said.
Authorities were processing the area where the bodies were found Wednesday night and it appears the family was killed at that location, Warnke said.
Law enforcement is working to preserve and document the crime scene so they can seek a full conviction, Warnke said. In this case, there is “a lot of circumstantial evidence and direct evidence,” he added.
Kidnapping of a “peace-loving” family caught on video
Earlier on Wednesday, authorities released surveillance footage of the kidnapping, which took place Monday morning at the family’s Merced trucking store.
The video shows Jasdeep Singh arriving at the company’s car park at 8:30 am, followed by Amandeep Singh arriving nine minutes later.
Just before 9 a.m., Jasdeep bumps into a man outside the store. The man was carrying a garbage bag and pulled out what appeared to be a gun, video shows.
A few minutes later, Jasdeep and Amandeep are seen getting into a truck with their hands tied behind their backs. Shortly thereafter, the truck leaves and returns six minutes later.
Upon returning, the suspect enters the store and exits with a gun in hand while Jasleen Kaur holds 8-month-old Aroohi and walks ahead of the suspect to the truck.
Later Monday, a farmer found two of the victims’ cellphones on a street, authorities said. Once the farmer answered the phone and spoke to a relative of the victims.
Before the bodies were found Wednesday night, a family member urged people to come forward with information about the case.
“This is a peace loving family that runs a small business in the Merced area,” said Balvinder, a family member. “This is something no one is prepared for … we hope and pray every moment.”
The detained suspect was violent, the sheriff says
Authorities say the suspect attempted suicide before being taken into custody on Tuesday, a day after the family was kidnapped.
He was sedated because the authorities “didn’t want him hitting it,” Warnke said Wednesday. “I can tell you that every time he approaches consciousness he has been violent.”
The man’s family had contacted law enforcement, telling them that the man admitted involvement in the kidnapping, according to Deputy Alexandra Britton, a spokeswoman for the Merced County Sheriff’s Office.
Police contacted the man after the family called, she added.
On Tuesday morning, investigators learned that an ATM card from one of the victims was used at a bank in Atwater, Calif., about nine miles northwest of Merced, the sheriff’s office said.
It’s unclear if the 48-year-old in custody was the person who used the card, Britton said.
After that transaction, investigators were able to identify the 48-year-old man as a person of interest in the case and later take him into custody, officials said.
Additionally, the suspect was convicted in a 2005 count of armed robbery and false imprisonment and paroled in 2015, Warnke said. In that previous case, according to Warnke, the man acted alone and knew the victims.
https://www.ocregister.com/2022/10/06/officials-are-working-to-determine-a-motive-after-a-kidnapped-family-of-4-was-found-dead-in-california/ Officials are working to determine a motive after a kidnapped family of four was found dead in the Merced – Orange County Register