A second suspect has been arrested in the kidnapping and murder of a California family of four, including an 8-month-old child, authorities said Friday.
Alberto Salgado, 41, was arrested for criminal association and destruction of evidence. He was taken into custody Thursday evening, the Merced County Sheriff’s Office posted on Facebook.
Salgado is the brother of Jesus Salgado, who has been accused of kidnapping and killing the family of four: 8-month-old Aroohi Dheri, his 27-year-old mother Jasleen Kaur, his 36-year-old father Jasdeep Singh, and his 39-year-old uncle, Amandeep Singh.
Investigators are still trying to determine a motive, but Merced County Sheriff Vern Warnke said he believes it could be money-related, adding that there is no evidence to suggest the incident could have been a hate crime.
Jesus Salgado was a former employee of the family who had a long-standing dispute with them that “became quite nasty”, authorities said Thursday.
Who are the victims ?
The bodies of the four victims were found Wednesday in a remote area near the town of Dos Palos, Calif., about 30 miles south of Merced, Calif.
Warnke did not share the condition of the adult remains and said it was unclear how the baby died. He said the child had no visible trauma and an autopsy will be performed.
“Our thoughts are with the family at this time of grief and we ask everyone to respect their privacy,” the sheriff’s office added.
The family was reported missing on Monday and the sheriff’s office said they were “taken away against their will” by a gunman.
What was the trade dispute?
The victims were Punjabi Sikhs, a community in central California that has a significant presence in the trucking industry, with many driving trucks, owning trucking companies or other trucking-related businesses.
Relatives of the deceased family told investigators Jesus Salgado, 48, sent angry text messages or emails to the family about a year ago after working with their trucking company, the sheriff said of Merced County, Vern Warnke, to The Associated Press.
On Friday, the Merced County Sheriff’s Office could not confirm additional details of the trade dispute to USA TODAY.
Jesus Salgado was previously convicted of first-degree robbery with the use of a firearm in Merced County, attempted forcible confinement, and attempting to restrain or deter a victim or witness. Sentenced to 11 years in state prison in the case, he was released in 2015 and released from parole three years later, according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. He was also convicted of possession of a controlled substance, the department said.
A timeline of events
Monday: All four family members are missing and authorities have begun to investigate. They said the family members were abducted at gunpoint.
Tuesday: Jesus Salgado has been identified as a person of interest after detectives were tipped off that one of the victim’s ATM cards had been used at a bank in Atwater, Calif., a small town 8 miles east. west-northwest of Merced.
Salgado was taken into custody and received medical attention after attempting suicide, the sheriff’s office said. He was arrested on four counts of kidnapping and four counts of murder.
Wednesday: The four bodies of the missing family members have been found dead, after authorities surveyed the community and searched with aircraft.
A farm worker reported one person dead on Wednesday evening; the family’s bodies were found among the rows of an almond orchard.
Thursday: Authorities say Jesus Salgado was a former employee of the family who had a long-standing dispute with them that “became quite nasty”.
Friday: Authorities announced that Alberto Salgado, brother of Jesus Salgado, was arrested on Thursday evening for criminal association, complicity and destruction of evidence.
Contributors: Thao Nguyen, Christine Fernando, Jeanine Santucci, USA TODAY; Associated Press.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: California family kidnapping: Brother of murder suspect arrested