Merced Kidnapping
Jasleen Kaur, Jasdeep Singh, Amandeep Singh, and 8-month-old, Aroohi Dheri. Photo via Merced County Sheriff’s Office Facebook

Police in central California were searching on Tuesday for four family members who were kidnapped under mysterious circumstances a day earlier from a business in the city of Merced.

Among the victims of the bizarre crime were an 8-month-old girl, Aroohi Dheri, who was abducted along with her mother Jasleen Kaur, 27, and father Jasdeep Singh, 36. Also taken was the baby’s uncle, 39-year-old Amandeep Singh.

The Merced County Sheriff’s Department asked for the public’s help in solving the case but said the suspect or suspects were considered armed and dangerous and should not be approached by civilians.

“We have a low-life out there that kidnapped an 8-month-old baby, her mom, her dad and her uncle,” Merced County Sheriff Vern Warnke said in a videotaped message.

“So far we have no ‘why’ of the kidnapping; we have no motivation behind it,” the sheriff said. “We just know that they are gone.”

The sheriff’s department said in a written statement on Tuesday that they first became aware of the family’s disappearance after Amandeep Singh’s black 2020 Dodge Ram pickup truck was found burning on the side of a county road.

In investigating the burning truck, sheriff’s deputies could not reach any of the family members and ultimately discovered that they had been abducted.

The unknown kidnappers had sought to “cover their tracks,” Warnke said, adding that authorities were using aircraft to assist in their search operation.

Photos of the suspects released by the sheriff’s department, apparently gleaned from surveillance footage, showed two men whose faces were obscured by medical-style masks. One of them was holding a plastic bag.

Merced is a working-class California city of more than 80,000 people roughly 70 miles west of Yosemite National Park that prides itself on being known as the “Gateway to Yosemite.”