Four members of a family in central California who were abducted two days ago have been found dead, the Merced County sheriff said Wednesday evening.
“Tonight our worst fears have been confirmed,” Merced County Sheriff Vernon Warnke said at a news conference. “We found the four people from the kidnapping, and they are in fact dead.”
Authorities were looking for 8-month-old Aroohi Dheri; her parents, Jasleen Kaur, 27, and Jasdeep Singh, 36; and her uncle Amandeep Singh, 39, since Monday.
The sheriff’s office said they were taken against their will from a business on South Highway 59 on Monday.
A person detained in connection with the case was unconscious after a suicide attempt, the sheriff said earlier Wednesday.
The sheriff’s office was called around 5:30 p.m. Wednesday after a farm worker discovered the bodies, Warnke said.
“There was a farm worker nearby and he came across them while he was working,” he said.
Warnke said the relatives were found in an “extremely rural farmhouse”.
“Not many people come here except the people here,” he said.
He said the victims’ families have been notified.
The suspect, Jesus Manuel Salgado, 48, was arrested Tuesday after the missing family’s debit card was used at a bank in Atwater that morning, the sheriff’s office said.
His own family called authorities, but Salgado “tried to commit suicide prior to any contact with the police,” Warnke said earlier Wednesday. Salgado was in a hospital under anesthesia on Wednesday, the sheriff said.
Warnke said investigators don’t know the motive. He called it “terribly, terribly pointless.”
“We were clearly praying for a better ending, and this isn’t it,” Warnke said.