A tragic incident that was the gruesome culmination of an abusive relationship turns more tragic and unfortunate with each new detail that comes out. And we now know the identity of the young mother who was killed by her estranged, violent boyfriend and father of one of her children.
While the coroner hasn't made her identity official, the father of the victim and her friends have spoken to the media in the last 24 hours and revealed that the woman killed in San Carlos Thursday morning was 27-year-old Karina Castro. (Her age was initially reported as 25.) Castro reportedly went on Instagram Live Thursday morning, hours before she would be brutally slain, saying that she feared for her life.
As friend Maricela Macedo tells the Chronicle, "She was talking about her baby daddy. She said that he had put a target on her." Macedo said she tried to record the live posting, but it ended before she could.
Castro would end up beheaded Thursday morning just before noon, allegedly by a sword, and at the hand of that ex-boyfriend and baby daddy of her one-year-old daughter. Investigators had not recovered the weapon as of Friday.
That baby daddy was identified Friday by San Mateo County authorities as 33-year-old Jose Rafael Landaeta-Solano. San Mateo County sheriff's deputies say that Landaeta-Solano returned to the scene of the crime after they arrived, and witnesses said he was screaming and vomited as he was taken away in handcuffs. Deputies said he suffered a "medical emergency" at that time. He was expected to appear in court in Redwood City as early as Friday, but it's unclear if that happened.
Castro's father, Martin Castro Jr., spoke to KTVU on Friday and described the relationship between his daughter and Landaeta-Solano as "rocky, questionable" and he added, "there was a lot of unstable behavior mainly from him."
Castro also spoke to ABC 7, and said, "Every time I saw her, I would beg her. Don't talk to him. Leave him and it seemed like the more I did that, the more she would see him."
"I feel like this is a horror movie I need to wake up from," he said, this time to NBC Bay Area.
Neighbors tell the Chronicle that the couple appeared happy when they moved into the home together on Laurel Street in San Carlos two years ago. Castro was expecting her second child, and Landaeta-Solano, and she also had an older daughter, now 7, who had a different father.
But neighbors also say that they heard screaming from the couple's apartment on multiple occasions, and Landaeta-Solano was charged in an October 31 incident with misdemeanor battery and disturbing the peace. He pleaded no contest to the charges in April and received one year probation, and around that time, Castro reportedly took out a restraining order against him.
The San Mateo Sheriff's Office said they had had previous contacts with Landaeta-Solano, and the Chronicle reports he served three years probation in a 2012 case in which he was accused of rape of an unconscious person.
Another detail has emerged that points to motive — this from Snapchat messages between the victim and suspect in the days or hours before the killing. ABC 7 obtained those messages, and they allegedly included threats by Castro to expose the fact that Landaeta-Solano had had a sexual relationship with another man. Landaeta-Solano calls her a "snitch lip" and Castro allegedly says, "U wanna put a target on my back, ur homies gunna kno the real u."
Landaeta-Solano reportedly said, "Fuck around and find out."
KTVU said that Castro's father was seen sobbing at the scene of the crime on Friday, and he told the station, ""I’d give my life for her in a second. I should have been here. And all I keep telling myself is — I failed. That’s how I feel. And I don’t want anyone else to feel this way."
Martin Castro Jr. also added, "If anyone you know has a relationship that’s questionable with a violent co-partner — get away, get away. I never thought that he would do this."
A GoFundMe campaign for funeral expenses and for the victim's children was set up by the victim's grandmother and has raised $33,000, over and above the $25,000 goal.
"I just want to thank everyone who’s donated to help my daughters kids, my beautiful grandchildren who have lost their mother to a senseless useless person," Geneva Castro writes. "Thank you all, this money will help them and help us give my daughter a funeral to remember I’m devastated broken empty and more hurt than I ever thought I could be by the situation but thank you all for helping us and the worst time of our lives."
Photos via GoFundMe