SAN CARLOS — A young mother was beheaded in an attack with a “stabbing instrument” outside her home in San Carlos Thursday morning and a suspect who was in a relationship with her has been arrested.
According to the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office, deputies were flagged down in the area of Magnolia Avenue and Laurel Street around 11:50 a.m. after witnesses reported an assault in progress. When deputies arrived, they found a woman dead at the scene.
“The deputies that first arrived on the scene were a little beset by the scene,” Lt. Eamonn Allen of the sheriff’s office said. “We are providing them peer support, we are also providing support for the witnesses that were on scene as well, because there were several civilian witnesses.”
Soon after, deputies said the suspect returned to the scene and was detained. The suspect — later identified by the sheriff’s office as Jose Rafael Solano Landaeta, age 33 — was arrested and booked into jail on suspicion of murder.
Friends identified the victim as 25-year-old Karina Castro.
On Friday they spelled her name in candles at a makeshift memorial outside the apartment complex where she lived.
Adrienne Murray said she’s close with the Castro’s mother.
“What a sweet girl. She didn’t deserve this mess. She had two little children, struggling every day like the rest of us,” Murray said. “And her boyfriend wasn’t bad looking, nice, it seemed like they got along, but they didn’t.”
She said Castro was outside her car when her boyfriend approached.
“She was putting (her children) in her car and raised her head — and he cut her head off and her children saw everything,” Murray said.
Murray said Landaeta would constantly threaten the victim. Moments before her murder, Landaeta sent her a text. Murray said the victim’s mother saw the texts after Castro’s death and her phone is in the hands of authorities.
“He sent her a text — so she’s got the text on her phone — that he was going to literally behead her if she didn’t cancel the restraining order or something like that,” Murray said.
Castro’s friends say they used to spend time with the couple.
“We all used to be mutual friends,” said Michael Range of Redwood City.
“We all hung out — all of our kids hung out. Any of us would never expect anything like this, to be honest, so we’re all at a loss for words. Can’t really speak right now but RIP,” said Vanessa Cortes of Redwood City.
Allen said the woman was killed by a “stabbing instrument” but said the weapon has not been found. Anyone with information about the case is asked to contact Detective Brandt of the San Mateo County sheriff’s office by calling 650-333-8195 or emailing email@example.com.