A photo of the family and Merced County Sheriff Vern Warnke. Image Credit: Merced County Sheriff

Merced, California: Merced County Sheriff Vern Warnke said that the suspect in the murders of the Indian-origin family in the US state of California had an old dispute with the dead. Jesus Manuel Salgado was a former employee who had a longstanding dispute with the family that “got pretty nasty,” Sheriff Warnke said.

A family spokesperson told ABC 30 that Salgado was a former employee who used to drive for the victims’ company.

Relatives of the murdered family told investigators that Salgado had sent angry text messages or emails about a year ago after working with their trucking business, Warnke said.

“I believe that he had someone else with him and at least helping him do some of the things. As far as the homicide itself, we are going to let the evidence take us where it needs to take us,” Warnke said.

The suspect in the kidnapping and killing of the four California family members, including their baby, was arrested late Thursday. Salgado was arrested on four counts of murder and four counts of kidnapping.

“Jesus Manuel Salgado, the suspect in the kidnapping and murder of Aroohi Dheri, Jasleen Kaur, Jasdeep Singh, and Amandeep Singh, was booked into the Merced County Jail. He was arrested for four counts of murder and four counts of kidnapping. Our Detectives, alongside investigators from assisting agencies, will continue to follow up on any leads of additional people who may have been involved in this horrific incident,” said Merced County Sheriff’s Office.


Salgado, 48, is accused of kidnapping and killing 8-month-old Aroohi Dheri, her parents Jasleen Kaur and Jasdeep Singh, and her uncle Amandeep Singh. He was booked into the Merced County Jail, the sheriff’s office said in a statement.

After days of searching for the victims who were reported missing Monday, authorities recovered their bodies in a farm area Wednesday after a farmworker alerted them to remains in an orchard in central California’s Merced County.

The bodies of four members of the family, who originally hail from Punjab in India were discovered lying close to each other by a farm worker in a remote orchard in Merced county, Sheriff Vern Warnke said on Wednesday.

India in touch with members of family

Consulate General of India in San Francisco is in contact with the family and is providing all the necessary assistance, India said on Friday adding that the Merced county police is investigating the matter.

Terming the incident “sad and unfortunate”, Ministry of External Affairs Arindam Bagchi said, “Our consulate general had put out some a tweet earlier. They are is in contact with family. We are aware of this. Merced county police is investigating it. We are in touch. The investigation is ongoing. This is a very shocking incident.”

Salgado has a previous conviction for armed robbery and witness intimidation, and according to neighbours, he may have prowled outside the family’s business months before he attacked them, reported San Francisco Chronicle.

“He would walk up and down the street for quite a while in front of that business and beyond, yelling at people,” said Rene Calvazos, 64, who lives near the vast parking lot owned by the Singh family.

Salgado was arrested in 2005, Warnke said, for a home invasion case “in which he kept his boss and (their) family at gunpoint over money he thought he was owed. I think this is the same kind of thing.”

Salgado received an 11-year state prison sentence in 2007 for first-degree armed robbery, attempted false imprisonment, and dissuading or tampering with a witness or victim under specified circumstances. A month later, he was handed an eight-month sentence for possession of a controlled substance.He served an eight-year prison term and was paroled from 2015 until 2018.