The search for a family of four kidnapped in California on Wednesday continues after authorities arrested a person of interest and released new details about the case on Tuesday.
Authorities outlined a brief timeline of the abduction of 8-month-old Aroohi Dheri, her parents Jasleen Kaur and Jasdeep Singh and the child’s uncle Amandeep Singh in Merced, California.
According to the Merced County Sheriff’s Office, the investigation began at 11:39 a.m. Monday, when the California Highway Patrol responded to a 2020 Dodge Ram on fire and asked the Merced Police Department to help locate the vehicle’s owner.
Approximately an hour later, at 12:35 p.m., Merced police officers arrived at the truck owner’s address and met with a family member there. Officers attempted to contact the couple and the child’s uncle, but were unable to reach them.
Later Monday at 1:04 p.m., Merced County Sheriff’s Office officers responded to a business on South Highway 59. “During the initial investigation, detectives determined that the individuals had been kidnapped,” the sheriff’s office said Tuesday.
In an initial statement about the case on Monday, the sheriff’s office said it believed the family was taken “against their will” from a business in the 800 block of South Highway 59 in Merced, located between Modesto and Fresno in central California.
“We have no motivation behind it. We just know they’re gone,” Merced County Sheriff Vern Warnke said in a video message posted on Facebook.
Warnke also said that investigators have gathered evidence that indicates “the people involved in this destroyed evidence are trying to cover their tracks.”
On Tuesday, authorities arrested a 48-year-old man as a person of interest in the case.
While the investigation is ongoing, the Merced County Sheriff’s Office continues to ask the public to contact their office at 209-385-7547 with any information they may have about the case. The FBI and the California Department of Justice are also investigating.
“Investigators continue to follow all leads and are working diligently to locate the family,” the sheriff’s office said Tuesday.
Investigators learned Tuesday morning that one of the victims’ ATM card was used at a bank in Atwater, California, the sheriff’s office said in a statement. Atwater is nine miles northwest of Merced.
After that transaction, investigators were able to identify the 48-year-old man as a person of interest in the case and he was later arrested, authorities said.
The man attempted to take his own life before law enforcement could get involved, and was receiving medical treatment and in critical condition Tuesday, according to the sheriff’s office.
Authorities were working to ensure the man in custody is the same suspect whose photos were released Monday, sheriff’s office spokeswoman Alexandra Britton told CNN.
“Investigators obtained a surveillance photo of a subject conducting a bank transaction where the person’s appearance is similar to the surveillance photo from the original kidnapping scene,” the sheriff’s office said.
On Monday, authorities described the suspect as a man with a shaved head who was last seen wearing a hooded sweatshirt. He was considered armed and dangerous, authorities said.