Four members of a family, including a baby, were found dead on Wednesday in a rural field in California’s Central Valley, two days after they were kidnapped, the authorities said.
“Our worst fears have been confirmed,” the Merced County sheriff, Vernon H. Warnke, told reporters on Wednesday night.
A baby, her parents and her uncle had been kidnapped on Monday from the family’s trucking business in Merced, Calif., about 115 miles southeast of Sacramento, according to the sheriff’s office.
The sheriff’s office said that surveillance footage outside the business showed an armed man forcing members of the family into a truck, two of them with their hands apparently zip-tied behind their backs.
The police identified the family members as 8-month-old Aroohi Dheri; her mother, Jasleen Kaur, 27; her father, Jasdeep Singh, 36; and the baby’s uncle, Amandeep Singh, 39.
“There’s no word right now to describe the anger I feel, and the senselessness of this incident,” Sheriff Warnke said. “I said it earlier: There’s a special place in hell for this guy, and I mean it.”
Sheriff Warnke said on Wednesday night that at about 5:30 p.m., a farmworker in an “extremely rural” area found the victims’ bodies and notified the sheriff’s office.
Jesus Manuel Salgado, 48, who had been named as a person of interest in the investigation, was taken into custody on Tuesday after he attempted to die by suicide at a home in Atwater, Calif., about 8 miles northwest of Merced, the authorities said earlier on Wednesday.
Later that day, Sheriff Warnke said Mr. Salgado was speaking with the authorities, but he did not say what he had shared or whether charges had been filed against him.
Mr. Salgado had attempted suicide before he was contacted by law enforcement officials, and was sedated at a hospital, Sheriff Warnke said at a news conference earlier on Wednesday.
“The family had told our suspect that they had in fact contacted law enforcement because of what he had told them,” Sheriff Warnke said. “And rather than talk to law enforcement, he attempted to take his own life.”
The authorities did not provide additional information on Mr. Salgado’s relationship with the family or what he had told them. Investigators had been eager to question him earlier in the day, but every time he came near consciousness, he became violent, Sheriff Warnke said.
He said the authorities had not determined a motive for the kidnapping.
Mr. Salgado had been convicted of a robbery in 2005 that involved a firearm and false imprisonment, when someone is held against their will in one place, Sheriff Warnke said. The police had not had “any major contact” with Mr. Salgado since he was paroled in 2015, Sheriff Warnke said.
Mr. Salgado was taken into custody after detectives received information on Tuesday that one of the victim’s A.T.M. cards had been used at a bank in Atwater.
Investigators obtained a surveillance photo of a person making a bank transaction who was similar in appearance to a person seen in a surveillance photo at the trucking business where the family was kidnapped.
The sheriff said that the police had not identified any accomplices, but that he thought it was possible that at least one other person might have been involved.
The family had been reported missing after Amandeep Singh’s truck was found on fire in Winton, Calif., about 13 miles north of Merced, on Monday morning, the sheriff’s office said.
The police attempted to contact Mr. Singh, but were not able to speak to him and spoke with a family member instead. That family member tried unsuccessfully to contact Mr. Singh and other family members, the police said.
On Monday afternoon, detectives determined that the four family members had been kidnapped.
Surveillance footage from outside the family’s trucking business showed Jasdeep Singh and Amandeep Singh leaving the building, their hands apparently zip-tied, as a man with a gun leads them to the back seat of a pickup truck, the authorities said.
The truck drives away with them inside, then returns six minutes later, according to the security footage. The sheriff’s office said that the same man goes back into the business, then leaves with Ms. Kaur and the baby.
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