One of two suspects in a quadruple homicide last week in Merced was arraigned Monday morning in Merced County court, four days after he was arrested for their kidnapping.
The northern part of California's Central Valley has been in the news for all the worst reasons the past week, following two cases that have made national headlines. Just as we were learning details about a likely serial killer who's allegedly committed five murders in Stockton and one in Oakland over the last seventeen months, a horrific quadruple murder was occurring in nearby Merced.
It would be another two days before Jesus Manuel Salgado was arrested on suspicion of kidnapping Jasleen Kaur and Jasdeep Singh, their eight-month-old daughter Aroohi Dheri, and the baby's uncle Amandeep Singh, who had all gone missing. The Sikh immigrant family from Punjab, India, part of a growing community of Punjabi Sikhs in the Central Valley, were then found dead by a farm worker on Wednesday afternoon.
What's emerged is a tale of a disgruntled former employee of the Singhs who had allegedly been stalking their business for months, and seen sounding angry out on the street. Salgado, as it turned out, is an ex-convict who previously served a decade in prison following a violent kidnapping incident involving another former employer.
Jesus Manuel Salgado has been identified as a person of interest in the abduction of an 8-month-old baby and other family members. https://t.co/tfdLmNPtwW— HuffPost (@HuffPost) October 5, 2022
Merced County Sheriff Vernon H. Warnke told the media last week that Salgado had previously been employed as a truck driver for the Singhs' trucking business, and after being fired he had spent the last year exchanging heated texts with them.
Warnke described the 2005 home-invasion case for which Salgado served time, saying he "kept his boss and family at gunpoint over money he thought he was owed," adding, "I think this is the same kind of thing."
Speaking to KTVU, Warnke said the kidnapping and murder were committed "out of money or anger — and it could be the both of those apply here."
Rene Calvazos, 64, who lives near the parking lot where the Singhs ran their business, told the Chronicle that he would see Salgado in the area. "He would walk up and down the street for quite a ways in front of that business and beyond, yelling at people," Calvazos says. Calvazos was one of the first to contact authorities when images of a masked man kidnapping the Singh-Kaur family at gunpoint were played on television.
Warnke had said last week that a second suspect was being sought, and the Merced County Sheriff's Office confirmed Friday that Salgado’s brother, Alberto Salgado, had also been arrested for the crime. He was booked on charges of criminal conspiracy, accessory, and destroying evidence, per the New York Times.
Jesus Salgado was formally charged Monday with four counts of first-degree murder with special circumstances. He was scheduled to be arraigned Monday morning.
Salgado was paroled in 2015 after serving 10 years, and authorities said they had not had "any major contact" with him in the last seven years.
Previously: Kidnapped Merced Family Found Dead, Including Eight-Month-Old Baby