Breaking News: Woman beheaded on a San Carlos street


Isabel Wright

Mourners light candles in remembrance of Karina Castro outside of her apartment.

Content Warning: This article includes mentions of graphic violence and domestic abuse.  

A woman was beheaded in San Carlos by a man with a “stabbing instrument” on Thursday, Sept. 8. 

According to a statement published by the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office via social media, witnesses alerted the police of an assault near Laurel St. and Magnolia Ave. at approximately 11:50 a.m. 

Deputies located the body of Karina Castro, a 27-year-old woman. The male suspect, Jose Rafael Solano Landaeta, returned to the surrounding area shortly after, and the deputies arrested him for homicide. 

Based on the scene, authorities believe the suspect used a stabbing instrument as his murder weapon, although it’s yet to be found. 

The police announced an existing relationship between Landaeta and Karina Castro. According to Martin Castro, the victim’s father, the two had been together for a few years, and Landaeta was occasionally physically abusive. 

“Landaeta has mental issues, but he wasn’t consistently taking meds. He was nice, soft-spoken, and not aggressive on his meds,” Martin Castro said in an exclusive interview with Scot Scoop. “When he was off them, he was a completely different person; fidgety, aggressive, and ready to fight anybody for anything.”  

Karina Castro had filed a restraining order against Landaeta, but he violated it repeatedly. She’d once called the police after an argument, but her father didn’t know whether she’d ever reported the violations of the restraining order.

According to the San Mateo County court records, Landaeta had three criminal charges, two being alleged rape charges. 

“[Landaeta] had an extensive criminal record, and although I was kept in the dark about [the relationship], I knew something was going to happen the minute they got together,” Martin Castro said. “I just didn’t know it would be this drastic.” 

Karina Castro had her youngest of two children with Landaeta. Both children are with Child Protective Services, but Martin Castro is attempting to gain custody of them.  

“The social workers have me in a holding pattern. I was told, ‘You’ve got to fill this paperwork out before you can get them. Sorry. Let the process play out,’” Martin Castro said. “As far as I know, [the kids] have no idea what happened [to their mother], even though they were in the apartment. I’ll be the one to explain it to them.”

Martin Castro wasn’t notified about his daughter’s death until 7 p.m. that day when one of his other daughters saw it on the news. Only on his arrival at the crime scene could he confirm that the victim was indeed his daughter. 

I can’t comprehend or process anything right now. I feel like I’m floating in space– like I’m watching a movie I’m starring in somehow.”

— Martin Castro

“I can’t comprehend or process anything right now,” Martin Castro said. “I feel like I’m floating in space – like I’m watching a movie I’m starring in somehow.”  

Nathaniel Chan, the victim’s neighbor, had speculated about a toxic relationship between Karina Castro and her ex-boyfriend. 

“I know there was a lot of ‘drama’ around the area. They were constantly getting into fights and arguments. [I heard] her screaming a couple of times, saying ‘No, stop, leave me alone! I’m going to call the cops if you don’t stop,'” Chan said in an exclusive interview with Scot Scoop. 

Chan also caught an ominous conversation happening in front of his window.

“I heard two people talking outside; a lady asked, ‘What are you doing down there?’ and a man said, ‘I’m just sharpening my knife.’ I guess she had kicked him out, and he was all mad. I can’t confirm it was [Castro and Landaeta], but I’m pretty sure it was,” Chan said.

The incident happened about a week after this conversation. Chan also heard Karina Castro talking on the morning of the homicide.  

“She was walking up and down the street and talking into a phone, saying, ‘It feels like I have a target on my back,’” Chan said. 

Chan heard yelling a few hours later, although he didn’t think much of it, assuming the noise came from a construction site across the street. It wasn’t until the police showed up that Chan discovered the gravity of the matter. Since the authorities told Chan to return to his apartment during the investigation, he wasn’t aware of the beheading until reading a news article later that day.  

In a press conference at 4 p.m. on Thursday, Eamonn Allen, a San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office lieutenant, disclosed more details: the homicide occurred on the street in front of the victim’s apartment. Martin Castro also confirmed that he found police-ordered search warrants in her apartment. 

According to Lt. Allen, the suspect may have experienced a medical emergency after committing the crime, but no further details have been confirmed. 

Although there’s no looming threat to the community, the public should avoid the area around 300/400 blocks of Laurel St. 

The County Sheriff’s Office is currently investigating the event; it’s encouraged for anyone with information to contact Detective Brandt at 650-333-8195 or [email protected].

This is a breaking news story.

Updated Sep. 10, 2022, 11:56 a.m. PDT: Story now reflects the nature of the interviews.

Updated Sep. 9, 2022, 6:37 p.m. PDT: Story now reflects the identities involved.