Karina Castro was beheaded on a California street by her estranged partner

Karina was 27 years old at the time of her murder.  She had two young daughters, aged 7 and 1 and she was working as a Door Dash driver to provide for her family.  Prior to this, Karina had attended Menlo-Atherton High School where she got her GED.

Her grandmother Danielle Gannon says that Karina was an independent woman who was motivated to raise her two daughters on her own.

Karina had been in a tumultuous relationship with Jose Rafael Solano Landaeta, more commonly known as Rafa Solano.  Rafa was 33 years old at the time of the murder and he is the father of Karina’s youngest child.   

In April 2022, Karina sought a restraining order against Rafa.  Her father, Marty Castro, told ABC7 how he took every chance to try to stop her from seeing him, saying: ‘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.’

Karina’s grandmother Danielle has said that Rafa is a diagnosed schizophrenic on  meds.’ She claimed he ‘would use that as an excuse for his behavior.

‘He drank excessively and you’re not supposed to do that on those kinds of medications,’ Danielle said.

On the day before Karina’s murder, she and Rafa exchanged some very heated messages on SnapChat.  Karina apparently threatened to tell everyone about Rafa’s criminal record that includes a rape conviction involving a minor. He calls her “snitch lip” and warns her “F*** around and find out.”

Karina wrote back, “U wanna put a target on my back, ur homies gunna kno the real u” and threatens to expose his sexual relationship with another man. She adds, “Dude, go head try and take my a** out.”

On the morning of Thursday September 8, 2022 Rafa went to Karina’s home, where her two children were inside.

Karina’s father Marty said ”’He got really mad, went to the trunk of his car, pulled out whatever it was and killed her right there behind her car.’

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.

Reports started to come in that said a woman’s head was cut off by a sword. At 12:14 p.m another call came in that said., “Children are there, scared to come… want their mom.”  From all reports thankfully, the kids were inside the house at the time of the murder and did not witness it happen.

A neighbor, Chapel Thorborne said, “The head was underneath the car and she was laying in back of the car, just severed, and then they covered her up.”

‘After he cut her head off, he came walking up, him and his two friends,’ Chapel told ABC. ‘And they walked right by me and they arrested him.’ 

‘He was hurt, shocked, disappointed,’ he added about the suspect.

Police held a press conference and said: 

“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.”

Shockingly, Karina’s family were not told of her murder.  Her father saw the news of a woman being murdered in the area and he raced to the scene, fearing it may have been his daughter.

“When the deputy walked up, he would not confirm who it was. But I said that she owned that black Volkswagen. He said yeah, that’s required. That’s my daughter.”

Karina’s two children had been taken from the scene by CPS.  Her pets had also been removed from the home.  Karina’s father and grandmother have to go through the application process to get custody of the kids.

Danielle said, “I want those girls. That’s what I want first, then I want Rafa to fry in jail. I don’t care what happens to him.”

“If there’s somebody out there abusing your daughter, don’t take off. Don’t let it go. Don’t take no for an answer,” Karina’s father Marty told KGO. “You feel responsible, no matter what anyone says.”

There is a GFM that has been established to support Karina’s daughters:

“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,” Marty wrote. “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.”

On Friday, Sept. 9, San Carlos Mayor Sara McDowell was joined by the City Council to express their “deepest condolences” to the two young children.

“Yesterday, our community was shocked by the tragic murder of a young mother in our community. Thanks to the quick reaction by neighbors calling 911, San Carlos deputies were able to quickly respond and immediately take a suspect into custody. It appears the victim and the suspect knew each other.”

Since this murder, we have learned that the weapon used was likely a samurai sword and that Rafa “slashed numerous times causing the victim’s head to be almost severed.

He was due to be arraigned on Monday September 12, but his attorney asked the judge to allow a doctor to examine his mental fitness and whether he was competent to stand trial. Criminal proceedings have now been suspended until Rafa can be medically examined, according to the district attorney’s office. In the meantime, the court has issued a protective order against Rafa to have no contact with Karina’s two children.

If Rafa ends up being convicted of Karina’s murder, he will face a sentence of 26 years to life.

Just as a side note, we had a bunch of messages from people sharing that news agencies claimed Rafa was in the country illegally.  The Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) told FOX News that they had ‘no involvement with this individual’ in response to the illegal immigrant claims made by the Santa Monica Observer.






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