California family: Bodies of 4 found in countryside, day after suspect arrested




CNN

Four kidnapped relatives in California – including a girl – were found dead in a farm field Wednesday, authorities said, two days after they were kidnapped from their business in a case in which investigators have arrested a suspect but have not announced a motive.

Authorities recovered the bodies of 8-month-old Aroohi Dheri, her parents Jasleen Kaur and Jasdeep Singh and her uncle Amandeep Singh on Wednesday afternoon after a farm worker alerted them to the remains in an orchard in central California’s Merced County, authorities said.

The discovery came a day after the arrest of a suspect in the case, and an emotional sheriff announced that the killings were “completely and completely senseless”.

“There’s a special place in hell for this guy,” Merced County Sheriff Vern Warnke said Wednesday night, referring to the suspect. CNN is not naming the suspect because charges had not been filed late Wednesday.

“An entire family was wiped out, and we still don’t know why,” Warnke said.

The family was held at gunpoint — a kidnapping captured on surveillance video — Monday morning in Merced, a city in central California between Modesto and Fresno, authorities said. Investigators learned they were missing after finding the family’s vehicle abandoned and on fire that morning, authorities said.

Police arrested a 48-year-old suspect Tuesday after his family told law enforcement he admitted his involvement in the kidnapping, Merced County Sheriff’s Deputy Alexandra Britton said.

“The circumstances surrounding this, when we’re able to release everything, should make you incredibly angry,” Warnk said.

The suspect attempted to kill himself before being arrested and was receiving medical attention, Warnk said.

Warnke did not say how the family was killed. He said they appeared to have died where they were found, and before the family was reported missing to the sheriff’s department on Monday.

The person arrested is the main suspect in the killings, although investigators believe others may be involved, according to Warnke, who did not elaborate on the extent of that involvement.

“I think we’re going to find out and find out that there was more involved than just him,” Warnke said.

The suspect is providing information to investigators, and officials are working with him to identify a motive, Warnke said.

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“Our worst fears realized”: Sheriff reports on missing family

Early Wednesday, authorities released surveillance footage of the Monday morning kidnapping at the family’s Merced trucking business.

The video shows Jasdeep Singh arriving at the business’s parking lot at 8:30 a.m., with Amandeep Singh arriving nine minutes later.

Just before 9am, Jasdeep is seen running into a man outside the business. The man carried a trash bag and pulled out what appeared to be a firearm, the video shows.

Several minutes later, Jasdeep and Amandeep are seen with their hands tied behind their backs as they enter a truck. Shortly after, the truck leaves and returns six minutes later.

On the way back, the suspect enters and exits the business with a gun in hand as Jasleen Kaur walks to the truck in front of the adult, 8-month-old Aroohi.

On Monday, a farmer found two of the victims’ cellphones on a road, authorities said. At one point, the farmer answered the phone and spoke to a relative of the victims.

Before the bodies were found Wednesday evening, a family member asked the public to come forward with any information about the case.

“This is a peace-loving family that runs a small business in the Merced area,” said Balvinder, a family member. “This is something that no one is prepared to deal with … we are hoping and praying every moment.”

On Tuesday morning, investigators learned that one of the victims had used an ATM card at a bank in Atwater, Calif., about 9 miles northwest of Merced, the sheriff’s office said.

It is not clear whether the man in custody is the person who used that card or not, Britton said.

Suspect in custody He was convicted of armed robbery and false imprisonment in 2005 and paroled in 2015, Warnke said.

In that previous case, the man acted alone and knew the victims, according to Warnke.