Suspected Punjabi family murder had once worked for victims’ truck company and argued with them: The Tribune India

San Francisco, October 7

The suspect in the kidnapping and murder of an 8-month-old baby, as well as her parents and uncle, had once worked for the family’s trucking company and had a long-standing feud with them that culminated in an act of ‘pure evil’. said a sheriff on Thursday.

The killings left family members mourning worldwide as investigators prepared a case against the suspect – a convicted felon who attempted suicide a day after the kidnappings – and sought a person of interest believed to be his accomplice.

“Right now I have hundreds of people in a community mourning the loss of two families, and this is worldwide. These families are on different continents,” Merced County Sheriff Vern Warnke told The Associated Press. “We have to show them that we can give them justice.”

The suspect, 48-year-old Jesus Salgado, remained in hospital on Thursday when Warnke called on prosecutors to demand the death penalty. The sheriff called it one of the worst crimes he’s seen in his 43 years on the police force and begged Salgado’s accomplice to turn himself in.

“Some things you take with you to the grave. This was pure evil for me,” he said in an interview on Thursday.

The city of Merced, where the family’s trucking company was located, will hold vigils Thursday through Sunday in the San Joaquin Valley, California’s agricultural heartland.

The bodies of 8-month-old Aroohi Dheri; her mother Jasleen Kaur, 27; father Jasdeep Singh, 36; and Uncle Amandeep Singh, 39, were found late Wednesday by a farm worker in an almond orchard in a remote area near the town of Dos Palos, about 50 kilometers south of Merced.

Warnke declined to discuss the condition of the remains of the adults in the orchard on Thursday, but said it was unclear how the baby died. Warnke said the child had no visible trauma and an autopsy will be performed.

Salgado had previously been convicted of first-degree robbery with use of a firearm in Merced County, attempted false imprisonment, and attempting to prevent or dissuade a victim or witness. In that case, he was sentenced to 11 years in state prison, was released in 2015, and paroled three years later, according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

He also has a conviction for possession of a controlled substance, the department said.

Relatives of Salgado contacted authorities and told them he had admitted their involvement in the kidnapping, Warnke told KFSN-TV on Tuesday.

Salgado attempted suicide before police arrived at a home in Atwater – where a debit card belonging to one of the victims was used after the kidnapping – about 9 miles north of Merced. Attempts to reach Salgado’s family were unsuccessful on Thursday.

The victims were Punjabi Sikhs, a community in central California that has a significant presence in the trucking industry, with many of them driving trucks, owning trucking companies, or other businesses associated with trucking.

Public records show that the family owns Unison Trucking Inc and relatives said they had opened an office in recent weeks in a parking lot that the Singh brothers also operated.

The feud with Salgado dates back to a year ago, the sheriff said, and “got pretty nasty” in text messages or emails. Other details about Salgado’s employment and the nature of the dispute were not immediately available.

Warnke said he believes the family was murdered within an hour of the Monday morning kidnapping, when they were taken from their business at gunpoint.

Surveillance video showed the suspect – later identified as Salgado – leading the Singh brothers, who had their hands zipped behind their backs, to the back seat of Amandeep Singh’s pickup. He drove the brothers away and returned a few minutes later.

The suspect then returned to the trailer that served as the office and led Jasleen Kaur, who was carrying her baby in her arms, outside and into the truck before the suspect drove them away shortly before 9:30 am.

Hours later, firefighters found Amandeep Singh’s truck on Monday in the town of Winton, 10 miles north of Merced. Police officers went to Amandeep Singh’s home, where a relative tried to reach him and the couple. When they couldn’t reach their relatives, they called the sheriff to report them missing.

They were probably already dead. AP

RCJ

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