Relatives plead for help to find California family kidnapped

Relatives of a family kidnapped at gunpoint from their trucking business in central California pleaded for help Wednesday in the search for an 8-month-old girl, her mother, father and uncle.

Authorities at a news conference Wednesday showed surveillance video of a man kidnapping the baby, Aroohi Dheri; the child’s mother, Jasleen Kaur, 27; father Jasdeep Singh, 36; and uncle Amandeep Singh, 39 from their Merced business on Monday.

Family members said nothing was stolen from the trucking company but that their relatives were all wearing jewelry. Merced county sheriff Vern Warnke said that after the kidnapping, an ATM card belonging to one of the victims was used in Atwater, a city about 9 miles (14 km) north-west of Merced.

A poster from the Merced county sheriff's office shows three photos. The first is of an infant girl, the second a mother and father holding the girl, and the third is a man in a blue track suit.
Aroohi Dheri, 8 months; mother, Jasleen Kaur, 27; father, Jasdeep Singh, 36; and uncle Amandeep Singh, 39, were kidnapped at gunpoint in Merced. Photograph: Merced County Sheriff’S Office/Reuters

Relatives of the victims asked anyone who owns a convenience store or gas station in the area to check their surveillance cameras for images of the suspect or the family. They said they were worried the baby wasn’t being fed because the family didn’t have any baby food with them at the time of the kidnapping.

“Please help us out, come forward, so my family comes home safe,” said Sukhdeep Singh, a brother of the victims.

Relatives of Jesus Salgado, 48, contacted authorities reporting that he had admitted to them he was involved with the kidnapping of the family, Warnke told KFSN-TV on Tuesday. Salgado tried to take his own life before police arrived at a home in Atwater, and he has since been hospitalized, he said.

Warnke said the kidnapper made no ransom demands.

Family members told KXTV-TV that the trucking company office in Merced, a city of 86,000 people about 125 miles (200 km) south-east of San Francisco, had only opened about a week earlier.

“My husband is very peaceful and calm person. We don’t have any clue why they kidnapped them,” said Jaspreet Caur, wife of the kidnapped uncle.

The sheriff said detectives believe the kidnapper destroyed unspecified evidence in an attempt to cover his tracks.

The sheriff’s office said that firefighters on Monday found a pickup truck belonging to Amandeep Singh that was on fire. Merced police department officers went to Amandeep Singh’s home, where a family member tried to reach him and the couple.

When they were not able to reach their family members, they called the Merced county sheriff’s office to report them missing, the office said.

The sheriff’s office said the FBI, the California department of justice and other local law enforcement agencies are helping with the investigation.