27-Year-Old Mother Of Two Beheaded With Sword In San Carlos, California

Karina Castro
youtube | NBC Bay Area

News & Politics
Gabby Etzel

On Thursday, September 8, a 27-year-old woman was beheaded by the father of her second child in San Carlos, California.

The news came as a shock to the San Carlos community, but there are few more shaken than the woman's family and the handful of passersby who witnessed the beheading on Laurel Street in broad daylight.

The victim's family has identified her as Karina Castro, a loving mother to 7-year-old and 1-year-old girls.

The Attack

Laurel Street lies in an affluent neighborhood of San Carlos, a Bay Area city with a small-town feel.

On Thursday, September 15, it became the backdrop for a vicious, senseless murder.

Karina Castro was standing outside of her apartment at 11:50 am when her former boyfriend, Jose Rafael Solano Landaeta, attacked her.

According to authorities, he used a "stabbing instrument," later identified as a sword, to decapitate Castro where she stood. Neighbor Chapel Thorborne described the gruesome scene, which included her body slumped on the back seats of a car.

The mother of two died immediately, and Landaeta briefly fled the scene, likely to conceal the murder weapon.

Shaken, sickened, and knowing there was nothing they could do to help Castro survive, witnesses did the best they could at the moment. They flagged down passing deputies for help.

Landaeta returned to the crime scene without the sword in hand. Deputies were quick to detain him, unsuccessfully turning over the neighborhood for the weapon.

Fortunately, Castro's two daughters were inside the home and did not witness the crime. The last time they saw their mother was right before she stepped out the door. Once she had passed, 9-1-1 callers alerted the police, saying, "Children are [in] there, scared to come [out]... Want their mom."

Some onlookers described the look of pure shock on Landaeta's face as police hauled him away. It was as if he was struggling to come to terms with the blood on his hands.

The Murderer's Motives

33-year-old Landaeta was the father of Castro's 1-year-old daughter, but their relationship was far from healthy--Not when they were dating, and not afterward.

In fact, Castro had recently gotten a restraining order against Landaeta for issues of domestic abuse. She had no obligation to see him anymore, but she chose to maintain some contact.

To say that Castro's family disapproved of Landaeta would be an understatement.

"When she got pregnant by him, my heart dropped," Karina's father, Martin Castro said while firefighters cleaned the blood from the site of Castro's death.

According to Danielle Gannon, Karina's grandmother, Landaeta was a well-known paranoid schizophrenic. He was medicated, but he often used his condition as an excuse for violent and degenerate behavior.

He also drank heavily, a habit that no person taking schizophrenic medication should indulge in.

The night before the murder, Castro and Landaeta had engaged in an explicit argument over Snapchat.

"F*** around and find out," Landaeta warned the 27-year-old. "U wanna put a target on my back, u homies gonna know the real u."

Castro, described by her grandmother as a strong and stubborn woman, told her ex, "Dude, go head try and take my a** out."

The dispute clearly escalated into the next day, when Castro came outside of her apartment to meet Landaeta, first making sure that her daughters were safely inside.

After the beheading, Landaeta was taken into San Mateo County Jail with no bail, where he will await trial for the homicide of Karina Castro.

A Father's Regret

Tearful and grief-stricken, Martin, or Marty, Castro, said of his daughter's death, "I miss her already. My heart is empty without her. She was my best friend."

Despite the irreparable heartbreak that Marty and the rest of his family feel for the beloved Karina, he took the opportunity to give the parents of the world a message that could save their daughters.

"If there's someone out there abusing your daughter, don't take off. Don't let it go. Don't take 'no' for an answer. You feel responsible, no matter what anyone says."

Marty told ABC7 that whenever he saw Karina, he would beg her to stop seeing Landaeta. He warned her not to talk to him, instinct and reason telling him that his daughter could fall under serious harm if the relationship continued.

He felt as if the more he pleaded with her, the more she saw Landaeta.

Marty Castro did everything he could to convince his daughter to stay away from the criminal. The brutal, senseless murder now leaves him doing everything he can to protect her memory.

Remembering Karina Castro

CPS took Karina's two daughters before Marty Castro and Danielle Gannon could arrive on the scene. They are determined to get immediate custody of the two girls, but they must first go through the application process with CPS.

The children have suffered a terrible loss, but their father and grandmother will do everything they can to make sure they remember what a wonderful woman their mother was.

"She was an amazing girl," Marty said fondly of his daughter. Karina had worked hard to receive her GED and provided for her family as a DoorDash driver.

Gannon added that Karina was always determined to raise her two little girls on her own.

If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence, contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1 (800) 799 - 7233.