The man accused of kidnapping and killing a California family of four was seeking revenge after being fired from the family’s business, authorities said — as it was revealed the suspect previously held another former employee at gunpoint.
Jesus Manuel Salgado, 48, drove for the Unison Parking trucking business in Merced but was released sometime last year, Merced County Sheriff Vernon Warnke said at a news conference Thursday.
Over the next year, he allegedly harbored a grudge against the family, with investigators discovering a number of exchanges of “nasty” texts and emails and neighbors reporting seeing him wandering around the business shouting at people in recent months.
On Monday, the feud came to a head when Salgado allegedly kidnapped eight-month-old Aroohi Dheri, her mother Jasleen Kaur, 27, father Jasdeep Singh, 36, and uncle Amandeep Singh, 39.
Chilling surveillance footage captured a man wearing a face mask leading the zip-lined victims out of their business at gunpoint.
Their bodies were found in a remote almond orchard two days later by a farm worker.
On Thursday, Salgado was charged with four counts of murder and four counts of kidnapping for the brutal killings.
He was booked into the Merced County Jail after being transferred from the hospital, where he is recovering after trying to kill himself a day after the murders.
On Friday, the sheriff’s office announced the arrest of Salgado’s brother as an accessory to the brutal crimes.
Alberto Salgado was arrested Thursday night on charges of criminal conspiracy, accessory after the fact and destruction of evidence and was being held at the same jail where his brother was being held.
Investigators previously said they were looking for at least one other assailant who they believed helped Salgado carry out the gruesome kidnappings and murders, but were unable to name any suspects on their radar.
It’s currently unclear exactly what role authorities believe Alberto Salgado played, but investigators said earlier this week that a person – different from the man in the kidnapping footage – was caught on surveillance video using one of his bank cards victim after the murders.
Officials have not disclosed how the family died, but said they believe they were killed where their remains were discovered shortly after the abduction.
Sheriff Warnke said there is a “special place in hell” for the accused killer, as it was revealed Salgado carried out a gruesomely similar attack on another previous employer.
Salgado worked for a different family trucking company for about two years, but was fired for unknown reasons.
Then, one night in December 2005, he showed up at the home of the owner’s family wearing a ski mask and armed with a gun.
The victim told CBS47 that Salgado held the gun to his head and forced his way into the home where his wife, 16-year-old daughter and daughter’s boyfriend were also present.
He used duct tape to bind the hands of all four victims before stealing their money and jewellery, including pulling the ring off his wife’s finger.
Salgado then forced all of the victims into the pool and threatened to kill them if they called the police, before leaving the home.
The family managed to get out of the pool and called the police.
In 2007, Salgado was convicted of first-degree robbery with a firearm, attempted false imprisonment and tampering with a witness.
He was sentenced to 11 years in prison. A month later he was also sentenced to eight months for possession of a controlled substance.
In 2015 he was released – after serving eight years of his sentence.
Seven years after his release, Salgado is accused of following a similar pattern to the Singh family – but this time he left no survivors behind.
Sheriff Warnke compared the two cases Thursday as he expressed his outrage at the senseless killings.
“He was holding his boss and his family at gunpoint for money he thought he was owed,” he said of the 2005 case.
“I think this is the same thing.”
The sheriff described his actions as “pure evil” in an emotional press briefing.
“The circumstances surrounding this, when we’re able to release everything, should piss the hell out of you,” he said.
“We’re talking about dealing with evil here. I can understand robbing a bank. But this?… This is pure evil.’
Salgado became a prime suspect in the case even before the victims’ bodies were found.
On Tuesday, his family notified police that he confessed to killing the family of four and tried to kill himself.
That day he was arrested by the police.
The next day – the same day the farm worker made the grim discovery – investigators released surveillance footage that captured the moment the four family members were abducted.
In the video, Jasdeep is seen arriving at the business at 8.30am on Monday, followed by Amandeep nine minutes later.
Just before 9am, Jasdeep is confronted by a man outside the business who appears to be pulling a gun from a white garbage bag he was carrying.
About 10 minutes later, Jasdeep and Amandeep are seen being led out of the building with their hands tied behind their backs and placed in a truck.
The truck leaves but returns minutes later, with the video capturing the suspect re-entering the business – this time leading Jasleen out at gunpoint.
Mother hugs her eight-month-old daughter.
The horrific quadruple abduction and murder has shocked the close-knit Sikh immigrant community, where the Singh family had not long started their new lives after moving from Punjab, India.
Neighbors and employees said the family bought the large piece of gravel for the trucking business last year and had dreams of expanding the company to rent space to boat and RV owners.
Trucker Blas Peña was crying as he said itSF Chronicle about the “very nice” family who were more “like friends – not like bosses” to him.
“They treat all the drivers like family. What happened is a complete surprise to us,” added his wife Noemi Alcala.
“No one knows this guy [Salgado]. There was no reason to do this to such a nice family.”