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

Investigators into homicides are always searching for a motive. It may be more challenging to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt if there is no evidence to suggest that the defendant had a motivation or an opportunity to commit the crime. When detectives have a motivation and a chance to investigate a crime, the "smoking gun" might help them make their case.

However, in cases when the victim was killed by means other than murder, the typical "smoking gun" would not be present. An alleged murderer may have a difficult time avoiding prosecution once an investigation reveals a concrete reason for the murder they are suspected of committing.

A horrifying murder took place in San Carlos, California, last week. The victim did not suffer from blunt force trauma or gunshot wounds. Armed with a samurai sword, they were beheaded. In the small town situated somewhere between San Jose and San Francisco, the San Mateo County Sheriffs discovered the woman who had been beheaded.

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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