Suspect in deaths of California family charged with 4 counts of murder, kidnapping

Four members of a California family kidnapped at gunpoint -- including an 8-month-old child -- were found dead Wednesday evening, authorities said.

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Merced County Sheriff Vernon Warnke said during a news conference Wednesday that 8-month-old Aroohi Dheri and her parents, 27-year-old Jasleen Kaur and 36-year-old Jasdeep Singh, along with the baby’s 39-year-old uncle Amandeep Singh, were found dead, KTTV reported.

Update 12:51 p.m. EDT Oct. 7: Jesus Manuel Salgado, 48, the man accused of killing four members of a California family -- including an 8-month-old child -- was arrested and charged with four counts of murder and four counts of kidnapping late Thursday, the Merced County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release late Thursday.

Sheriff Vernon Warnke said he hopes the district attorney pursues the death penalty, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Update 8:17 p.m. EDT Oct. 6: The man accused in the kidnapping and killing of four members of a central California family was a former employee who had a “longstanding dispute” with them that “got pretty nasty,” Merced County Sheriff Vernon Warnke said.

Relatives of the slain family told investigators that Jesus Manuel Salgado, 48, had sent angry text messages or emails about a year ago after working with their trucking business, The Associated Press reported.

Original report: “Tonight our worst fears have been confirmed. We found the four people from the kidnapping and they are in fact deceased,” Warnke told reporters. “There’s no words right now to describe the anger I feel right now and the senselessness of this incident. I said it earlier there’s a special place in hell for this guy. And what we’re going to deal with all night here is bad.”

According to The Associated Press, the four family members were found in an orchard.

Warnke said the bodies were discovered at about 5:30 p.m. PDT by a farm worker “during the course of his job duties,” KCBS-TV reported.

The victims were found “relatively close together,” Warnke said. He did not say if investigators had determined their causes of death, according to the television station.

Warnke’s announcement comes a day after the suspect, Jesus Manuel Salgado, 48, was taken into custody, KTTV reported. Salgado is in critical condition at a hospital after he attempted to kill himself, according to the television station.

Family members had said that the victims, who ran a trucking company, were abducted from an office they had opened days earlier, KTTV reported.

The kidnapper made no ransom demands, but Warnke has said he believes it was a financially motivated crime.

Warnke said Salgado was convicted in 2005 in a case involving armed robbery and false imprisonment, CNN reported. He was paroled in 2015.

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