A man used a sword to cut off the head of his estranged girlfriend, a mother of two, in the middle of a California street in front of witnesses. Like a scene from a violent slasher film, witnesses say that he decapitated her in a single swipe of the sword, and the head rolled underneath the car, as her body collapsed in a bloody heap.
The woman Karina Castro,27, had already filed a restraining order against the boyfriend, Jose Landaeta Solano,33.
Castro was brutally killed in San Carlos, California, located about 24 miles south of San Francisco, just steps away from the home where she lived with her two daughters, aged one and seven. The children were in the house at the time of the brutal slaying and did not witness their mother’s murder.
The San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office has identified the suspect as Jose Landaeta Solano, who was arrested after returning to the scene of the gruesome decapitation murder.
Castro’s family told ABC7 that the 33-year-old suspect is the father of her one-year-old daughter and told the news channel that he is a diagnosed schizophrenic.
Law enforcement records of the incident note that the incident occurred just before noon, when police began receiving calls about “a 25-year-old female… head was cut off by a sword.”
The children did not witness the violent murder of their mother, San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office Lt Eamonn Allen said in a press conference after the crime scene had been cleared.
Child Protective Services swooped in shortly after to take the seven-year-old and one-year-old girls, along with a dog and two cats, who were found inside the home on a quiet residential street.
“Children are there, scared to come… want their mom,” a note from the police record read.
After arriving at the scene, officers began to work the area and were quickly able to make an arrest of the man they believed responsible for the murder.
“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,” said Lt Allen.
Landaeta, a resident of Hayward, was arrested for homicide, the officer confirmed, adding that the weapon used in the attack was “still outstanding.”
ABC later identified the suspect as the former boyfriend of the victim, who at the time had not been identified as Castro by authorities yet. The news outlet reported that the young mother of two had received a temporary restraining order against the man back in April but did not disclose if that order was still active at the time of her death.
Residents of the usually calm neighborhood relayed with horror what they saw unfold on the street in front of their homes, some so shocked they found themselves stumped with the simple question of “why?”
One neighbor, Chapel Thorborne, told ABC 7 the distressing scene he walked into when he arrived home to the Bay Area neighborhood shortly after the attack on Thursday.
“The head was underneath the car, and she was laying in the back of the car- just severed,” he said. “And they covered her up.”
Mr. Thorborne, who said he’d had brief encounters with the couple before the deadly attack unfolded, described how he saw the suspect with some friends shortly after the decapitation had occurred.
“After he cut her head off, he came walking up, him and his two friends,” Mr. Thorborne said to ABC. “And they walked right by me, and they arrested him.”
Officers who first responded to the scene were reportedly in distress at the devastation laid out before them, Lt Allen said. He noted that peer services would be made available to those affected by the events.
“Any time 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,” he said, adding that those peer services that were being made available to the officers would also be offered to the witnesses, “because there were several civilian witnesses.”