SAN FRANCISCO (AP) – The younger brother of a man suspected of kidnapping and killing an 8-month-old baby, her parents and an uncle has been arrested on suspicion of helping his brother destroy evidence, police said. authorities said on Friday.
Alberto Salgado, 41, was arrested Thursday afternoon and charged with criminal conspiracy, accessory after the fact and destruction of evidence, the Merced County Sheriff’s Office said. He is being booked at the Merced County Jail, the same place where suspect Jesús Salgado, 48, is being held on kidnapping and murder charges. It was unclear if either brother had a lawyer who could speak on their behalf.
Aroohi Dheri’s bodies; his mother Jasleen Kaur, 27; father Jasdeep Singh, 36; and uncle Amandeep Singh, 39, were found by a farm worker Wednesday afternoon in an almond orchard in a remote area of the San Joaquin Valley, California’s agricultural heartland.
Jesus Salgado, a convicted felon who tried to kill himself a day after the kidnappings, had worked for the family’s trucking business and had a long-standing feud with them, Merced County Sheriff Vern Warnke said Thursday in The Associated Press.
He was treated at a hospital before being taken to prison. Warnke had said detectives were also looking for a person of interest believed to be his accomplice.
Relatives of the victims and fellow members of the Punjabi Sikh community were shocked by the killings.
Jaspreet Kaur, Amandeep Singh’s widow, said in a GoFundMe fundraiser that her husband and brother had been in the United States for 18 years and were supporting not only their families in California, but also the his elderly parents in India.
“This is the story of our shared American dream gone wrong,” he wrote. “Our beloved family was violently taken from us on October 3.”
Kaur said her husband regularly donated food to the local food bank and never missed a Sunday service at the local Sikh temple. They had a 9-year-old daughter and an 8-year-old son.
The baby’s parents were married three years ago in India and reunited two years ago after his mother immigrated to the United States, he said.
At a vigil Thursday evening in downtown Merced, hundreds of people held lit candles and formed a circle around enlarged photographs of the victims. Religious leaders from different denominations opened the ceremony with prayers for the family, the Merced Sun-Star reported.
“Tonight the community came together and showed the Singh family that ‘we are here with you and we will be here with you as long as you need us, and we will remember the names of those we have lost,'” family friend Priya Lakireddy said. in the newspaper
The city of Merced, where the family lived and had their trucking business, will hold nightly vigils in their memory through Sunday.
The elder Salgado was previously convicted of first-degree robbery with a firearm in Merced County, attempted false imprisonment and attempting to prevent or deter a victim or witness after holding at gunpoint gun a family he had worked for and force them to follow his orders almost 20 years ago.
Salgado worked for the family’s trucking company but was fired in 2004 because the family suspected he had stolen money, family members told the Los Angeles Times.
On the night of Dec. 19, 2005, he showed up at their home wearing a mask and held a gun to the father’s head and bound his hands with duct tape, recalled his daughter Katrina, then 16. years and asked him. the newspaper not to use his last name.
Salgado rounded up the family, as well as a friend of Katrina’s who was visiting, and took them to the garage, where the family kept a safe with cash and jewelry, she and her mother, Kathy, said.
“I was really scared,” Kathy said. “And I expected to hear the shot as soon as it was open.”
After robbing them, even taking Kathy’s wedding ring, Salgado led the family to the backyard pool and made them jump in as he escaped, Kathy and Katrina recalled. He was captured a few days later after his family reported him to the police.
In 2007, he was sentenced to 11 years in state prison in that case. He was released in 2015 and fired from parole three years later, according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. He also has a conviction for possession of a controlled substance, the department said.
Relatives of Salgado contacted the authorities and told them that he had admitted to them his involvement in Monday’s kidnapping in Mercè. Salgado tried to kill himself before police arrived at a home in nearby Atwater where an ATM card from one of the victims was used after the kidnapping.
The victims were Punjabi Sikhs, a community that has a significant presence in the trucking business in Central California, where many of them drive trucks, own trucking companies or have other businesses associated with transportation.
Public records show the family owns Unison Trucking Inc. and relatives said they had opened an office in recent weeks in a parking lot also operated by the Singh brothers. The feud with Salgado dates back a year, the sheriff said, and “it got pretty nasty” in text messages or emails. Other details about Salgado’s employment and the nature of the dispute were not immediately available.
Warnke said he believes the family was killed shortly after being abducted from their business. A farm worker found their bodies Wednesday near the town of Dos Palos, about 50 kilometers south of Merced.
Dazio reported from Los Angeles. Associated Press writer Robert Jablon in Los Angeles and news researcher Jennifer Farrar in New York contributed to this report.