Family members of the kidnapped and murdered Sikh family of four say the brothers had traveled to the United States as teenagers in search of safety and the American dream.
Amandeep Singh, 39, his 36-year-old brother Jasdeep Singh, Jasdeep’s 27-year-old wife Jasleen Kaur and their 8-month-old daughter Aroohi Dheri were kidnapped at gunpoint from their trucking business in Merced County, California, on the morning of Oct. 3. Their bodies were found in a rural farm by a farmworker on Wednesday.
Jesus Manuel Salgado, a 48-year-old former employee of the trucking company, was arrested for kidnapping and murdering the family. Before his arrest, the man reportedly admitted to the crime to his family before attempting suicide. His brother, Alberto Salgado, was also arrested and is accused of criminal conspiracy and destroying evidence.
“I just felt like somebody had pulled the Earth from under my feet. I felt numb, I felt empty, I couldn’t think,” Amarinder Singh, Jasdeep’s cousin, told NBC News.
Singh recalled that Jasdeep and Amandeep grew up in Harsi Pind in Hoshiarpur, Punjab, before their families immigrated to the United States as a teen. He said his cousins were looking for safety when they moved to the country as teenagers in search of the American dream.
“We wanted to be in a place where we would feel safe, where we would think our kids are safe,” Singh said. “And where we would know that if we worked hard, if our kids worked hard, they could make a life for themselves.”
The two brothers’ elderly parents were also left alone. According to the fundraiser set up by Amandeep’s wife, Jaspreet Kaur, on GoFundMe, Aroohi’s grandparents from her father’s side, Randhir and Kirpal, recently traveled to India to plan a Lohri Party — Harvest Festival — to celebrate and welcome their granddaughter to the family.
“Randhir and Kirpal were overjoyed in recent years to see their family grow. They were proud of their sons Aman and Jasdeep and cherished playing with their granddaughter Aroohi,” the GoFundMe read.
“They recently traveled to India to plan a Lohri celebrating Aroohi’s arrival in the family and now miss her greatly. They are left with a void in their family that cannot be filled.”
The crowdfunding campaign has so far raised over $387,000 as of writing, with the funds going to the Memorial Trust Fund of Dheri Family, which will help support the surviving members: Jaspreet, their two children Ekam and Seerat and the grandparents Randhir and Kirpal.