Suspect in California family killings worked for their company in the past, sheriff says

The suspect in the kidnapping and killing of four California family members, including an infant, may have worked for a family business in the past, the Merced County sheriff said in an interview Thursday.

Jesus Manuel Salgado was charged Thursday night with the murder and kidnapping of the 8-month-old, her two parents and an uncle, the sheriff’s office said in a statement.

It is unclear whether Salgado, 48, has been formally charged.

A motive for the kidnapping has not been released, but Merced County Sheriff Fern Warnke told NBC-affiliated KSEE in Fresno on Thursday that Salgado used to work for a family business.

“One of the family members had spoken to me before and said he worked for one of the family companies,” Warnke told the radio, but he didn’t know which company or part of the family.

Warnke made similar comments to the Associated Press, saying a few days ago a family member “told me that this guy worked for their company and that he was sending nasty emails or nasty text messages, etc.”

Arushidri; her parents Jasleen Kaur, 27, and Jasdeep Singh, 36; she and her uncle Amandeep Singh, 39, were kidnapped on Monday, officials said. Surveillance video showed them being taken from a home trucking company by a man with a gun.

Their bodies were found by a farm worker in a row of almond orchards in a remote rural area around 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, the sheriff’s office said.

Warnke said Salgado was detained in Atwater on Tuesday after his own family called authorities, but Salgado attempted suicide before law enforcement had any contact with him. The sheriff did not say what to do.

On Thursday, the sheriff’s office said investigators had been interviewing Salgado.

Salgado was sent to the Merced County Jail on Thursday on four counts of murder and four counts of kidnapping, the sheriff’s office said in a statement.

The Merced County District Attorney’s Office said in a statement earlier Thursday that before the announcement, it would decide whether to file charges once the sheriff’s office files a case.

An emailed request for comment to the district attorney’s office on Thursday night was not immediately returned. A spokeswoman for the sheriff’s office also did not respond to a request for more details.

Salgado’s case did not appear in online court records Thursday night, and it was unclear whether Salgado had a lawyer who could speak on his behalf.

The sheriff’s office has not released the cause of death. Warnke told KSEE that investigators did not find any trauma to the baby, but a forensic pathologist would determine the exact cause of death.

Salgado was previously sentenced to 11 years in prison in January 2007 for first-degree robbery with a firearm, attempted false imprisonment, and another charge involving preventing or discouraging a victim or witness, according to state corrections records.

He was placed on parole supervision in June 2015 and released on parole in June 2018, records show.

Warnke told KSEE that, in this case, Salgado carried out a burglary on the former boss of another company he worked for and took hostages during the robbery.

Andrew Blankstein contributed.

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