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A man has been arrested in the kidnapping and killing of 4 family members in California. Here’s what we know


By Aya Elamroussi and Taylor Romine, CNN

Investigators in the kidnapping and deaths of four California family members, including their baby, revealed new details Thursday about the man suspected of abducting them at gunpoint from their business and then allegedly killing them.

Jesus Manuel Salgado, 48, was arrested late Thursday on four counts of murder and four counts of kidnapping, Merced County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Alexandra Britton told CNN Thursday evening.

Salgado, who was a former employee at the family’s business, was detained as a suspect in the case after his family told law enforcement he admitted to being involved in the kidnapping, according to Britton.

The arrest comes after 8-month-old Aroohi Dheri, her parents Jasleen Kaur and Jasdeep Singh, and the child’s uncle, Amandeep Singh, were kidnapped from the family’s trucking business in the central California city of Merced on Monday.

Two days later, the family’s bodies were recovered from an orchard in Merced County after a farmworker alerted authorities to the remains.

As Merced County Sheriff Vern Warnke announced the family’s bodies had been found Wednesday evening, he called the killings “completely and totally senseless.”

“The circumstances around this, when we are able to release everything, should anger the hell out of you,” Warnke said.

The armed kidnapping of the family at their business was caught on surveillance video. The footage showed the suspect holding a firearm and forcing the family into a pickup truck, then driving them away from the business’ parking lot in Merced.

CNN has been unable to identify an attorney for Salgado and calls to family members have gone unanswered.

As the investigation continues into the motive behind the killings, here’s what we know about the case.

How was the family kidnapped?

The surveillance footage released by the Merced County Sheriff’s Office shows how all four family members were taken against their will from their workplace Monday morning.

At 8:30 a.m Monday, the video shows Jasdeep Singh arriving at the business’ parking lot, followed by Amandeep Singh arriving nine minutes later.

Shortly before 9 a.m., Jasdeep encounters the suspect outside the business. The suspect carried a white trash bag and pulled out what appeared to be a firearm, the video shows.

At around 9:11 a.m., the video shows that Jasdeep and Amandeep have their hands tied behind their backs and get into a truck, which leaves shortly after.

Minutes later, the vehicle returns to the parking lot and the suspect enters the business. The suspect exists with a gun in hand, leading away Jasleen Kaur as she holds 8-month-old Aroohi.

Later Monday, a farmer found two of the victims’ cell phones on a road, authorities said. At one point, the farmer answered one of the phones and spoke with a relative of the victims.

What do we know about the suspect?

Salgado served a lengthy prison sentence for a similar crime back in 2007. He was sentenced to 11 years behind bars for charges including first-degree robbery with use of a firearm and attempted false imprisonment, according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

Also in 2007, he was sentenced for possession of a controlled substance, the corrections department said. He was released on parole in 2015 after finishing his sentence and completed parole in 2018, according to the department.

Before police took him in on Tuesday — initially as a person of interest — Salgado attempted suicide and received medical treatment that caused him to be sedated because he was acting violently while conscious, Sheriff Warnke said.

Officials believe Salgado is the main suspect in the case, but the sheriff stressed that others may be involved.

“I fully believe that we will uncover and find out that there was more than just him involved,” Warnke said Wednesday.

Salgado was talking to investigators, Warnke said, but didn’t elaborate on what information he may have shared.

“We got information from the suspect, we are going to keep that close to our chest at this point,” Warnke said.

Salgado has been booked at the Merced County Jail, the sheriff’s office said Thursday night.

How has the investigation unfolded?

Among the questions that remain unanswered is the motive behind the family’s killing.

“We have a whole family wiped out, and for what? We don’t know yet,” Warnke said Wednesday after the bodies were recovered.

Authorities have also not disclosed how the family died, but did reveal it appears they were killed where they were found, and the killings happened before the sheriff’s department was notified Monday that the family was missing.

Initially, investigators learned the family was missing after a family vehicle was found abandoned and on fire Monday morning, authorities said.

A day after the family was kidnapped, authorities learned an ATM card belonging to one of the victims was used at a bank in Atwater, California, the sheriff’s office said in a statement. Atwater is about nine miles northwest of Merced.

It is unclear whether Salgado is the person who used that card, according to Britton.

“Investigators obtained the surveillance photo of a subject making a bank transaction where the person is similar in appearance to the surveillance photo from the original kidnapping scene,” the sheriff’s office said earlier this week.

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CNN’s Natasha Chen, Cheri Mossburg, Jason Hanna and Jack Hannah contributed to this report.

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