Surveillance Footage Shows Abduction of Still-Missing Central California Family


LOS ANGELES — Surveillance footage released by the Merced County Sheriff's Office on Wednesday showed the armed kidnapping of a family of four — who are still missing two days after their abduction.

Authorities continued their desperate search Wednesday for 8-month-old Aroohi Dheri; her mother, Jasleen Kaur, 27; her father, Jasdeep Singh, 36; and her uncle, Amandeep Singh, 39, who were taken at gunpoint Monday from the family business in Merced, off South Highway 59, according to the Sheriff's Office.

Suspect Jesus Manuel Salgado, 48, was arrested Tuesday after he attempted suicide in the nearby town of Atwater, but sheriff's deputies cannot speak with him about the kidnapping because he is in critical condition in the hospital, Merced County Sheriff Vern Warnke said.

"Time is of the essence," Warnke said Wednesday at a news conference asking the public for help in the search. "The big question and the first question is where is the family? One hundred percent of our energy is trying to get our family back."

Undersheriff Corey Gibson detailed the timeline of the abduction Wednesday, showing new video footage taken from outside the kidnapped family's business.

Jasdeep Singh and Amandeep Singh arrived at the business between 8:30 and 8:40 a.m., the video showed.

Around 9 a.m. Jasdeep Singh seemed to casually interact with the suspect, believed to be Salgado, outside the building. The two walked toward the entrance to the business, with Singh leading the way. The suspect carried a white trash bag, the surveillance footage showed.

"(The suspect) put down the trash bag and you'll see right there he pulls out a firearm," Gibson said.

Singh and the suspect entered the building and remained inside for a few minutes, and video then showed Jasdeep and Amandeep exit the back door with their hands  apparently zip-tied behind their backs as the suspect followed them with the gun in hand.

The suspect put Amandeep and Jasdeep in the back seat of Amandeep's pickup truck, the video showed. The suspect drove away and returned six minutes later, according to the surveillance footage.

"Same suspect gets out of vehicle and goes back inside the business," said Gibson.

Less than a minute later, video showed Jasdeep Singh carrying her baby, Aroohi, out the back door, unrestrained, with the suspect following behind.

The investigation at the family's business that revealed the video began Monday after authorities found Amandeep Singh's Dodge Ram truck on fire in the town of Winton.

When officers arrived at Singh's home investigating the car fire, a family member was unable to get in contact with him. When the family was unable to contact Amandeep Singh, as well as Kaur and Jasdeep Singh, they reported them missing to the Sheriff's Office.

"Please help us all. Come forward, so my family comes home safely," said Sukhdeep Singh, a family member.

"All of us are trying to look for ways that we can deal with this or help out in any way," said another family member, who identified himself as Balwinder.

With Salgado unable to speak with sheriff's deputies due to his condition, there is still no clear motive for the kidnapping, Warnke said.

"We are currently with the suspect now ... waiting for the doctors to get him to a point where he can cooperate," Warnke said, adding that any time Salgado has "come near consciousness he's been violent."

Salgado was convicted in 2005 of armed robbery, which involved false imprisonment, Warnke said. He was paroled in 2015 and has not had "major contact" with the law since, according to the sheriff.

"He's a robber. He's a thief. He needs to be in prison," Warnke said.