Jesus Salgado, accused of killing Merced County Sikh family, pleads not guilty; funeral on Saturday


Jesus Salgado, the man accused of kidnapping and murdering four members of a Sikh family from Merced County in California, has pleaded not guilty to all his charges in court on Thursday. This was the second time he appeared in court, the first time being Monday.

Salgado has been charged with four counts of “first-degree murder with special circumstances”, along with arson and possession of a firearm by a felon. His next hearing is scheduled for December 15.

Meanwhile, relatives announced that the family will be laid to rest on Saturday in Turlock, a city 25 miles northwest of Merced. A local ABC News affiliate reported that the funeral will be closed to the public but anyone who would like to support the family can gather outside the venue.

On Monday, October 3, a family of four – two young parents, their eight-month-old daughter and another family member – was abducted from their place of business in Merced, around 101 miles south-east of San Jose in California. After an intense search that involved the local police, the FBI and the Department of Justice, their bodies were found on October 5 evening by a farm worker in a remote area near the intersection of Indiana and Hutchins roads, northeast of Dos Palos.

The abduction and killing shocked both the United States and India, where family immigrated from.

At around 9am on the fateful day, 36-year-old Jasdeep Singh, his 27-year-old wife Jasleen Kaur, their eight-month-old child and 39-year-old Amandeep Singh were taken against their will from newly opened office in Merced.

Salgado was arrested on October 4.

According to a press release from the Merced sheriff’s office: “On October 4, 2022, in the morning hours, Merced County Sheriff Detectives received information that one of the victim’s ATM cards was used at an ATM located at a bank in the City of Atwater. 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.”

It added, “At approximately noon, working in conjunction with our local law enforcement partners, the Sheriff’s Office received information that identified Jesus Manuel Salgado (48-years-old) as a person of interest in this investigation. Prior to law enforcement involvement, Salgado attempted to take his own life. Salgado is in our custody, currently receiving medical attention and in critical condition.”

According to Fox News, on October 3, the local fire department was dispatched to Buhach Road and Oakdale Road in Winton for a report of a vehicle on fire. Authorities identified the vehicle as Amandeep Singh’s black 2020 Dodge Ram truck and began an investigation into the incident.

However, in the meantime one of the family members soon contacted the sheriff’s office to report the four family members missing after unsuccessfully trying to contact them. 

A few days after Jesus’ arrest, his brother Alberto, too, was arrested for being part of the conspiracy. Police authorities of Merced County arrested Alberto Salgado hours after the bodies of the four abducted Singh family members were recovered from an almond orchard in Northern California. 

He was booked into the Merced County Jail on four counts of murder and four counts of kidnapping, authorities said. Alberto, who was taken into custody on Thursday night, was arrested by authorities of Merced County on charges of criminal conspiracy, accessory, and destroying evidence.

The police also revealed that Jesus Salgado had a longstanding dispute with the Singh family “that got pretty nasty”. Salgado used to work as a driver for the victims’ trucking company. He had also sent angry emails or text messages to the victims a year earlier.

The Merced police had said that Jesus Salgado had tried to kill himself before he could be taken into custody. He had received medical attention, which had prevented the investigators from talking to him, the sheriff’s office had said.

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