A California-based family of four, including an eight-month-old infant, have been found dead two days after they were kidnapped at gunpoint.
Merced County Sheriff Vernon Warnke confirmed the deaths at a press conference on Wednesday evening. He told reporters the family — infant Aroohi Dheri, her parents, Jasleen Kaur, 27, and Jasdeep Singh, 36, and her uncle Amandeep Singh, 39 — were found dead in an orchard in rural Merced County, in central California.
“Tonight, our worst fears have been confirmed,” Warnke said at the conference Wednesday.
The cause of death for the family members has not yet been revealed by police. Warnke claimed during the conference that the kidnapped persons were likely killed before they were reported as missing.
Video footage released by police on Wednesday shows the group being forcibly taken from their family-run trucking business. In two separate car trips, the family is kidnapped at gunpoint by an unknown person. The attacker marched the family into his van from the back of the building, their hands bound with zip ties.
The bodies of the four family members were discovered by a farmhand working in the orchard, police claimed. Warnke described the area as “extremely rural.”
One person is in police custody in connection with the murders but is currently unconscious after a suicide attempt, the sheriff revealed earlier Wednesday.
Jesus Manuel Salgado, 48, was arrested on Tuesday following the use of the family’s ATM card at a bank in Atwater, Calif.
The BBC reported that police later determined the card was not used by Salgado. He did, however, allegedly admit to his family, who contacted police, that he was involved in the kidnapping.
“I fully believe that we will uncover and find out that there was more than just him involved,” Sheriff Warnke said.
Salgado “attempted suicide prior to any law enforcement contact,” Warnke said, adding that he had to be sedated because “every time he has come near consciousness, he’s been violent.”
There is no known motive for the crime, though Warnke speculated the act may have been financially motivated.
“The circumstances around this, when we are able to release everything, should anger the hell out of you,” Warnke said. “There’s a special place in hell for this guy.”
“We were praying, obviously, for a better ending, and this is not it,” he said.