On Wednesday, October 5, Merced County authorities revealed that four members of a missing California family had been found murdered after a suspected kidnapping.
The Sheriff's office reported that on October 3, the family members were abducted at gunpoint from their business on highway South 59. According to CNN, California authorities arrested 48-year-old Jesus Manuel Delgado on October 4 in connection to the case.
On the morning of October 5, authorities received a report from a farmworker that he had discovered four bodies in a farm area in a rural stretch of California.
The victims included Jasleen Kaur (27), Jasdeep Singh (36), and their 8-month-old child Aroohi Dheri. Amandeep Singh (39), described by the authorities as Aroohi's uncle, was also among the dead.
Details of the California family murders
In a press release, Sheriff Vernon Warnke of the Merced County Sheriff's Office confirmed to reporters that a farm worker had discovered the bodies of the family members.
“Tonight, our worst fears have been confirmed. We found the four people from the kidnapping, and they are in fact deceased.”
Authorities reported that Jesus Manuel Salgado was determined to be the prime suspect in the murders after the missing family's account was linked to a transaction at Atwater bank, where he was allegedly drawing money from their account.
“Investigators obtained the surveillance photo of a subject making a bank transaction where the person is similar in appearance to the surveillance photo from the original kidnapping scene."
Sheriff Warnke stated that Salgado is also accused of attempting to destroy evidence of the abduction and subsequent kidnappings. He said:
“The individuals involved in this destroyed evidence in an attempt to cover up their tracks.”
He further explained that Salgado's family also called the authorities on him, reporting suspicious behavior. Before law enforcement agencies apprehended him, he supposedly attempted to commit suicide. He is currently under sedation at a local hospital.
Who were the victims?
As per WIO News, the family was Sikh Americans from Harsi Pind in Hoshiarpur, Punjab, a state in Northern India. The family was known to have a trucking business and convenience store in Merced County in Northern California.
According to Sheriff Warnke, the murders remain under investigation, and authorities are still exploring the suspect's motivations in targeting the family. He said:
"(The incident was) horribly, horribly senseless. We were praying, obviously, for a better ending, and this is not it."
The incident has shocked several Indian citizens, who believe it may be a sign that the US could be unsafe for South Asian Americans.