'Person of interest' in custody in the kidnapping of California family, search for the family continues

Merced County Sheriff's Office identified Jesus Manuel Salgado as "person of interest" in custody in connection with the kidnapping of an infant, her parents, and her uncle on Monday, Oct. 2, 2022.

Sheriff’s officials in Merced County announced on Tuesday that they had a "person of interest" in custody in connection with the kidnappings of an 8-month-old baby, her parents, and her uncle, abducted at gunpoint on Monday. But the desperate search continued for the missing family.

Merced County sheriff's officials were searching for an 8-month-old, her parents, and uncle, who investigators said were kidnapped at gunpoint on Monday, Oct. 3, 2022.

Investigators said early Tuesday, they learned one of the victims' ATM cards was used at a bank in Atwater, a city north of Merced.

"Investigators obtained the surveillance photo of a subject making a bank transaction where the person is similar in appearance to the surveillance photo from the original kidnapping scene," sheriff's officials said.    

Further investigation led them to 48-year-old Jesus Manuel Salgado, whom they identified as a person of interest in the case. But before law enforcement was able to reach him, he attempted to take his own life, detectives said. 

"Salgado is in our custody, currently receiving medical attention and in critical condition," detectives said. 

Sheriff's officials said on Monday, 8-month-old Aroohi Dheri, her mother Jasleen Kaur, 27, her father Jasdeep Singh, 36, and the infant’s uncle Amandeep Singh, 39 were all kidnaped against their will from a business on South Highway 59 in South Merced. 

Investigators have said they have no motive in the case. 

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Hours after alerting the public of the abductions, investigators released surveillance photos of the suspect.

Merced County sheriff's investigators released surveillance images of the man suspected of kidnapping a family of four including an 8-month-old baby on Monday, Oct. 3, 2022. (Merced County Sheriff's Office)

"We have a lowlife out there that kidnapped an 8-month-old baby, her mom, her dad and her uncle. So far we have no idea why the kidnapping," Sheriff Vern Warnke said in a video update posted to Facebook. 

The sheriff said there had been no ransom demands or any contact from the suspect, and they noted that he took care to destroy evidence in an attempt to cover up his tracks, though investigators did not offer details or specifics on what that evidence was.   

Investigators said they were actively following up on all leads and "working diligently to find the family." 

Anyone with information about the family's whereabouts was urged to contact the Merced County Sheriff's Office Investigations Bureau at 209-385-7445.

"It’s imperative that we get some information, Warnke said, adding "We gotta bring this family home safely."

This story was reported from Oakland, Calif.