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Calif. Family Murder Suspect Allegedly Left Baby to Die of Exposure, Had Longstanding Feud with Parents

People 10/7/2022 KC Baker

Merced County Sheriff's Office Baby Aroohi Dheri; mom Jasleen Kaur; dad Asdeep Singh; and uncle Amandeep Singh © Provided by People Merced County Sheriff's Office Baby Aroohi Dheri; mom Jasleen Kaur; dad Asdeep Singh; and uncle Amandeep Singh

The suspect accused of kidnapping and killing a California family was a former employee of the family business who was in a protracted argument with them that turned deadly, authorities said.

Suspect Jesus Salgado, 48, had worked for the slain family's trucking business as a driver and had a falling out with them that "got pretty nasty" after he left the company more than a year ago, Merced County Sheriff Vernon Warnke confirmed to The Associated Press.

About a year ago, after Salgado parted ways with the company, he sent emails and text messages to the family expressing anger over an apparent disagreement they'd had, the family's relatives told investigators, according to Sheriff Warnke.

The sheriff did not provide further details about what transpired between then and Monday, when Salgado allegedly went to the family's business on South Highway 59 near Merced and kidnapped them at gunpoint.

RELATED: Calif. Family Members — Including a Baby — Have Been Kidnapped, and Police Have No Idea Why

The family was found dead two days later when a farm worker found the bodies of Jasleen Kaur, 27, Jasdeep Singh, 36, their 8-month-old baby, Aroohi Dheri, and the baby's uncle, Amandeep Singh, 39, in an almond orchard in Dos Palos, about 30 miles south of Merced, Sheriff Warnke announced at a press conference Wednesday night.

"Our worst fears have been confirmed," Sheriff Warnke said.

The family's bodies were found close together in between rows of almond trees, he said.

Investigators believe the three adults were killed first — and that Salgado allegedly left the baby girl to die in the field of exposure, the sheriff told ABC 30.

Investigators are awaiting a more thorough report from the MCSO pathologist showing how the baby died, Warnke told the news outlet.

"It's bad enough to do what he did to the adults but what was reported to me with the infant was just unimaginable," he told ABC 30.

On Tuesday, sheriff's deputies took Salgado into custody after he tried to kill himself.

Merced County Sheriff's Office © Provided by People Merced County Sheriff's Office

Investigators also learned that Salgado had allegedly been videotaped using one of the victim's ATM cards at a local bank, the Fresno Bee reports.

He was initially unable to talk because he was sedated while undergoing medical treatment at a local hospital, but has since begun answering investigator's questions, the Associated Press reports.

Salgado has not yet been charged with any crimes, according to Merced County Prosecutors.

RELATED: 4 Calif. Family Members Found Dead 2 Days After Kidnapping: 'Our Worst Fears Have Been Confirmed'

The last time the family was seen alive was on Monday, when Salgado was allegedly seen on surveillance footage leading Jasdeep and Amandeep out the back of Gateway Parking on South Highway 59, south of Merced.

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Salgado allegedly held a gun to the brothers, who were both zip-tied, as he led them down a back staircase to a pickup truck.

RELATED: Authorities Show Video of Kidnapped Calif. Family Being Placed into Pickup Truck by Armed Suspect

He then allegedly led the young mother, holding her baby in her arms, down the steps and to the pickup truck.

Previous Conviction for Home Invasion

Since Salgado was taken into custody, information about his background surfaced showing that he had been convicted previously of a home invasion in Merced County, court records show.

In 2006, Salgado was convicted of witness intimidation and a residential robbery with gun enhancements and sentenced to more than 10 years in prison, court documents show, The Fresno Bee reports.

He was released on parole on June 21, 2015.

Serving time behind bars did nothing "to deter" Salgado from allegedly committing another serious crime, Warnke told ABC 30.

At Wednesday night's press conference, the sheriff echoed the sentiments of the community when he said, "There's no words right now to describe the anger I feel and the senselessness of this incident.

"I said it earlier, there's a special place in hell for this guy."

Anyone with information about the kidnapping and murders is asked to call 209-385-7547.

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