SAN CARLOS, Calif. — Our sister station KGO-TV initially withheld the name of a woman killed in a horrific beheading in San Carlos Thursday morning out of respect for the family. But now, with the permission of her father and grandmother, we can report her identity.
Karina Castro, 27, was a mother of 7-year-old and 1-year-old girls. She attended Menlo-Atherton High School, got her GED, and worked as a DoorDash driver.
The man being held in what early witness reports said was a sword attack is 33-year-old Jose Raphael Solano Landaeta, the father of Castro’s 1-year-old daughter.
Castro’s family says the defendant goes by the name Rafa Solano and that he is a diagnosed schizophrenic whose behavior would swing wildly depending on his balance of medications.
Castro’s father and grandmother are desperately trying to get the young girls back from CPS. They say they found out about the murder online and are upset that social workers and police failed to contact them.
Solano’s arraignment on the murder charges had been scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Friday, but has been postponed.
Law enforcement sources tell the ABC7 I-Team’s Dan Noyes that a man beheaded a young woman in the middle of the street in front of witnesses on Thursday.
The San Mateo Co. Sheriff’s Department said the crime happened in the 300-400 block of Laurel Street and Magnolia Avenue at 11:50 a.m.
During a press conference, Lieutenant Eamon Allen said that the crime happened in the street outside the victim’s residence.
Lieutenant Allen said that the victim had two children, who did not witness the crime, and sources tell the I-Team’s Dan Noyes the kids were inside the house at the time.
The I-Team obtained law enforcement records on the incident that said, just before noon, reports came in that the woman’s head was cut off by a sword. At 12:14 p.m., “Children are there, scared to come… want their mom.”
CPS took custody of the 7-year-old and 1-year-old girls, along with a dog and two cats who were also inside the house.
We’re told the two were in an ongoing relationship but law enforcement sources say the victim got a temporary restraining order against the suspect, Hayward resident Jose Solano Landaeta, in April.
“They arrived within minutes and found an obviously deceased female in the street in that area,” said Lt. Allen during a press conference. “They began to work the scene and shortly then after, the male suspect arrived back at the scene and was quickly detained by sheriff’s deputies. He was later placed under arrest for homicide. We can confirm that a stabbing instrument was used in the commission of the crime. That weapon is still outstanding.”
The search for that weapon is still ongoing. We’re told the suspect suffered a medical emergency of some sort but details are limited.
Resident Terry Adams spoke with ABC7 News, hours after the murder to ask, “Why? Why did it happen?”
She and others living near the crime scene are trying to understand what could’ve led to Thursday’s gruesome killing of their neighbor.
Broadcastify radio traffic accessed by ABC7 alerted, “This is a 25-year-old female… head was cut off by a sword.”
The Sheriff’s Office only described the weapon used as a stabbing instrument, one that had not been found as of Thursday evening.
Neighbor Chapel Thorborne described the disturbing scene he encountered as he was returning home around noon Thursday, only steps from his front door.
“The head was underneath the car and she was laying in the back of the car- just severed,” he described. “And they covered her up.”
Thorborne said he’s familiar with the couple, having briefly interacted with them a number of times. He said the last time he saw the man was just before the suspect was taken into custody.
“He was hurt, shocked, disappointed,” he said about the suspect. “You can tell when he walked by, I’m like, ‘Yeah, they cut somebody’s head off- just laying right there.'”
Residents said their concern now is for the kids with many questions about how someone could commit such a heinous crime.
“After he cut her head off, he came walking up, him and his two friends,” Thorborne said. “And they walked right by me and they arrested him.”
Sources say there was a history of domestic violence at the address where the woman was killed.
Officials are providing peer support to both first responders and a group of witnesses who saw this tragic situation unfold.
There’s still an active crime scene, with this community in shock. Many are only returning from work now, learning about that young mother who was beheaded in the middle of the street, in the middle of the day.
The victim’s name is being withheld pending family notification.
“Anytime someone loses their life it’s certainly a tragedy. As far as the shocking nature of it, I do know that the deputies that first arrived on scene were a little beset by the scene. We are providing peer support, we are also providing support for the witnesses that were on scene as well, because there were several civilian witnesses.”