There’s a special place in hell for this guy,” the Sheriff of Merced County in California has said of the suspect who abducted four members of an Indian-origin Sikh family, including a 8-month-old baby girl, who have been found dead in an orchard.
"There are no words right now to describe the anger I feel and the senselessness of this incident," Merced County Sheriff Vern Warnke said on Wednesday night after authorities confirmed the death of four members of the family, who were missing since Monday.
"There’s a special place in hell for this guy,” Warnke said of suspect Jesus Manuel Salgado, who was convicted of armed robbery in 2005 and spent 11 years in prison.
The 48-year-old on Tuesday attempted suicide in the nearby town of Atwater after being arrested for the murder.
A farmworker called around 5.30 pm (local time) to report the bodies of the family, including an eight-month-old baby, whose abduction was captured on surveillance video.
Sheriff Warnke said detectives when arrived at the spot determined the remains were those of eight-month-old Aroohi Dheri; her mother Jasleen Kaur, 27; her father
Jasdeep Singh, 36; and her uncle Amandeep Singh, 39, originally from Harsi Pind in Hoshiarpur, Punjab, were kidnapped from their newly-opened trucking business in Merced County, California, on Monday.
The suspect on Tuesday attempted suicide in the nearby town of Atwater after being arrested for the murder.
Warnke, refraining from providing much information citing the ongoing investigation, said that investigators had spoken with Salgado who was convicted in 2005 of armed robbery, which involved false imprisonment.
The sheriff's office said the suspect's own family contacted authorities reporting that Salgado had admitted to being involved in the kidnapping.
“The suspect has been talking off and on, based upon his condition. And we still have investigators with the suspect and we are gleaning information from that,” Warnke said, adding that the investigation was "now gearing towards putting this rotten son of a gun in prison”.
California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation said he was released from prison in 2015 and discharged from parole three years later.
He was also convicted for possession of a controlled substance, the corrections agency said.
The family’s relatives have been notified, the sheriff said, adding that a motive for the abductions and killings was not known yet.
Warnke added there was no evidence currently to indicate Salgado knew the family prior to the kidnapping.
Sheriff Warnke said that after the kidnappings, an ATM card belonging to one of the victims was used in Atwater, about 14 kilometers north of Merced, adding that the kidnapper made no ransom demands in what he believes was a financially motivated crime.
The sheriff hoped the district attorney pursued the death penalty for the suspect who in a chilling new video showing the moment the family was kidnapped took away Jasdeep and Amandeep Singh with their hands zip-tied together.
Moments later, the video shows the kidnapper leading Jasleen and her eight-month-old baby, Aroohi, out of the building into a truck.
According to the Merced County Sheriff’s Office, the investigation began on Monday at 11.39 am when the California Highway Patrol responded to a 2020 Dodge Ram that was on fire and asked the Merced Police Department to help track down the vehicle’s owner.
Roughly an hour later, at 12.35 pm, Merced police officers arrived at the truck owner’s address and met with a family member there. Officers tried to contact the couple and the child’s uncle, but they were not able to reach them.
“During the primary investigation, detectives determined that the individuals were kidnapped,” the sheriff’s office stated on Tuesday.
A family member, who was unable to get in contact with Singh, as well as Kaur and her husband, then reported them missing to the Sheriff’s Office, the report said.
“All of us are trying to look for ways that we can deal with this or help out in any way,” said another family member Balwinder.
Warnke, who refused to release any information about how and when police believe they were killed, said the victims were close to each other when found by a farm worker in a remote area.
"We are devastated. We are shocked. We are dying every moment," Balwinder told abc7 News.
Investigators have not found a link between Salgado and the family to show they knew each other before the kidnapping.
Family members told KXTV-TV that the office for Unison Trucking Inc, the family's business, had only opened about a week earlier.
(With PTI inputs)