Messages Between Suspect and Beheading Victim Provide Investigators with a Clear Motive for Murder

Homicide investigators always search for a motive. Without motive and opportunity, it can be more difficult to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. When detectives have motive and opportunity, the “smoking gun” can cement their case.

However, when the victim was killed in some other fashion, there wouldn’t be a proverbial smoking gun. But when an investigation uncovers a concrete motive, it can be difficult for an alleged murderer to evade prosecution.

Last Thursday, a ghastly murder occurred in San Carlos, California. The deceased was not beaten or shot. They were beheaded with a samurai sword. The San Mateo County Sheriffs found the beheaded woman in the small town halfway between San Jose and San Francisco.

She was murdered in broad daylight. A 27-year-old mother of two was the victim. Katrina Castro had two daughters. The father of one daughter is 33-year-old Jose Raphael Solano Landaeta. Castro and Landaeta recently exchanged heated words on Snapchat.

Castro threatened “to tell the world about Solano’s criminal record that includes a rape conviction involving a minor.” The accused murderer called her a “snitch lip,” and told her to “F*** around and find out.”

The message exchange was explicit. Castro posted, “U wanna put a target on my back, ur homies gunna kno the real u,” She said that she would expose Landaeta’s alleged sexual relationship with another man. “Dude, go head try and take my a** out,” Castro added.

The victim’s father is sorry that he didn’t intervene. Marty Castro told ABC7, “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.” He said he tried to get his daughter to leave Landaeta to no avail.

Karina’s grandmother said that Landaeta was “a diagnosed schizophrenic on meds.” Danielle Gannon said the alleged murderer would use his condition as an excuse for the horrible things he did to Karina. Gannon said Landaeta dangerously combined alcohol with his medications.

Reports say the crime scene was so horrific that deputies required emotional support afterward. Landaeta was arrested after he returned to the scene. There is no report on whether the sword was taken into evidence. However, investigators clearly have one piece of their puzzle: motive.

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