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Man who ‘beheaded his ex-girlfriend with sword’ is in the US legally, despite previous reports

A man accused of ‘beheading his ex-girlfriend with a samurai sword’ in broad daylight, while her young children were inside her Northern California home, is believed to be a US citizen, despite previous reports claiming the contrary.

Karina Castro, 27, was beheaded with the weapon outside her Bay Area home Thursday last week by her ex-boyfriend Jose Raphael Solano Landaeta, 33, according to authorities.

Neighbors watched the horrific scene unfold, while her daughters, age 7 and 1, were lucky not to bear witness to the grisly murder of their mother.

The Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) told FOX News that they had ‘no involvement with this individual’ in response to reports made by the Santa Monica Observer claiming that Landaeta had been ‘in the US illegally.’

The Observer also claimed that Landaeta, from Venezuela, had ‘entered the country on a tourist visa about ten years ago’ and ‘never left.’

Landaeta is the father of Castro’s 1-year-old daughter, authorities say, but she was granted a restraining order against him in April.

Karina Castro (pictured), 27, was beheaded with a 'samurai sword' outside her Bay Area home Thursday last week by her ex-boyfriend Jose Raphael Solano Landaeta, 33, authorities say

Karina Castro (pictured), 27, was beheaded with a ‘samurai sword’ outside her Bay Area home Thursday last week by her ex-boyfriend Jose Raphael Solano Landaeta, 33, authorities say

Castro's ex-boyfriend Jose Raphael Solano Landaeta (pictured), 33, was previously reported to be in the US illegally but authorities say that he is in fact a US citizen

Castro's ex-boyfriend Jose Raphael Solano Landaeta (pictured), 33, was previously reported to be in the US illegally but authorities say that he is in fact a US citizen

Castro’s ex-boyfriend Jose Raphael Solano Landaeta (pictured), 33, was previously reported to be in the US illegally but authorities say that he is in fact a US citizen

Castro's (pictured), two daughters, age 7 and 1, did not bare witness to the grisly murder of their mom despite the incident taking place in front of neighbors in broad daylight

Castro's (pictured), two daughters, age 7 and 1, did not bare witness to the grisly murder of their mom despite the incident taking place in front of neighbors in broad daylight

Castro’s (pictured), two daughters, age 7 and 1, did not bare witness to the grisly murder of their mom despite the incident taking place in front of neighbors in broad daylight

Castro’s family now claim Landaeta is a diagnosed schizophrenic with a history of drinking alcohol while on his medication and someone they warned Castro to stay away from.

He allegedly left the scene of the crime, only to return minutes later when cops were arrived to Castro’s San Carlos home.

The San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office told Patch.com they believe the implement used during the incident was a ‘samurai sword.’

‘The defendant attacked the victim with a samurai sword, slashing numerous times causing the victim’s head to be almost severed,’ the DA’s Office said.

Landaeta then put the sword in his car parked two blocks away and returned to the scene where Castro’s lifeless body was laying in the street, the DA’s Office added.

Sheriff’s Office Lt. Eamonn Allen told reporters last week that a ‘stabbing instrument was used’ and that responding deputies found the victim ‘obviously deceased.’

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Landaeta appeared in the San Mateo County Superior Court on Monday with lawyer Robert Cummings, who ‘raised concern about whether the defendant was competent to stand trial.’ 

Landaeta's lawyer Robert Cummings, 'raised concern about whether the defendant (pictured) was competent to stand trial.' He is under evaluation, with results expected in eight weeks

Landaeta's lawyer Robert Cummings, 'raised concern about whether the defendant (pictured) was competent to stand trial.' He is under evaluation, with results expected in eight weeks

Landaeta’s lawyer Robert Cummings, ‘raised concern about whether the defendant (pictured) was competent to stand trial.’ He is under evaluation, with results expected in eight weeks

Castro's family appeared at court (pictured). They recently spoke out about her allegedly abusive relationship with Landaeta, saying they'd worried about it for years before her death

Castro's family appeared at court (pictured). They recently spoke out about her allegedly abusive relationship with Landaeta, saying they'd worried about it for years before her death

Castro’s family appeared at court (pictured). They recently spoke out about her allegedly abusive relationship with Landaeta, saying they’d worried about it for years before her death

‘It is better to get this taken care of now than to do it in two years when we’re about ready to start a trial,’ San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said. 

‘If he’s found not competent to stand trial that causes the criminal proceedings to be held until he is restored to competency – if ever.’

The court suspended criminal proceedings and continued the case to Tuesday where two doctors were appointed to examine Landaeta.

The evaluation results are expected to take about eight weeks. If convicted Landaeta could face 26 years to life in prison, according to Wagstaffe.

Landaeta is being held in custody on a no bail status at the San Mateo County jail. 

The court has also issued a criminal restraining order directing him to not have any contact with the victim’s two daughters.

The 33-year-old is charged with one felony court of murder, with two enhancements: use of a deadly weapon, and great bodily injury, according to charging documents from the San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office.

Castro’s family recently spoke out about her apparently abusive relationship with Landaeta, saying that they had been worried about it for years before her death.

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.’

He and the victim’s grandmother, Danielle Gannon, described Castro as an independent woman.

Landaeta is being held in custody on a no bail status, and the court issued a criminal restraining order directing him to not have any contact with Castro's daughters

Landaeta is being held in custody on a no bail status, and the court issued a criminal restraining order directing him to not have any contact with Castro's daughters

Landaeta is being held in custody on a no bail status, and the court issued a criminal restraining order directing him to not have any contact with Castro’s daughters

Castro 27 (pictured) had attended Menlo-Atherton High School, from where she earned her GED, and was working as a DoorDash driver at the time of her death

Castro 27 (pictured) had attended Menlo-Atherton High School, from where she earned her GED, and was working as a DoorDash driver at the time of her death

Castro 27 (pictured) had attended Menlo-Atherton High School, from where she earned her GED, and was working as a DoorDash driver at the time of her death

She had attended Menlo-Atherton High School, from where she earned her GED, and was working as a DoorDash driver at the time of her death.

Castro was ‘determined to raise her daughters on her own,’ Gannon said.

But she apparently faced some problems in her relationship with Landaeta, whom Gannon alleged ‘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,’ Gannon explained.

Marty is now warning parents: ‘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.

‘You will feel responsible no matter what anyone says.’

Meanwhile, Snapchat messages between Castro and Landaeta revealed that she had threatened to expose his alleged relationship with another man just moments before her death.

Landaeta then sent her threatening messages back in response, ultimately leading to the confrontation outside Castro’s home, when her father says: ‘He got really mad, went to the trunk of his car, pulled out whatever it was and killed her right there behind her car.’

Neighbor Chapel Thorborne said he saw the horrific scene from the steps of his home near the corner of Laurel Street and Magnolia Avenue, in San Carlos.

‘The head was underneath the car and she was laying in the back of the car- just severed,’ he told ABC7.

Some neighbors witnessed the tragic events of last Thursday, one neighbor claiming he saw the incident take place from the steps of his home around the corner from the incident

Some neighbors witnessed the tragic events of last Thursday, one neighbor claiming he saw the incident take place from the steps of his home around the corner from the incident

Some neighbors witnessed the tragic events of last Thursday, one neighbor claiming he saw the incident take place from the steps of his home around the corner from the incident 

Castro's family is fighting to get custody of Karina's two daughters, who were put in the care of Child Protective Services in the aftermath of the 27-year-old's (pictured) murder

Castro's family is fighting to get custody of Karina's two daughters, who were put in the care of Child Protective Services in the aftermath of the 27-year-old's (pictured) murder

Castro’s family is fighting to get custody of Karina’s two daughters, who were put in the care of Child Protective Services in the aftermath of the 27-year-old’s (pictured) murder 

HEARTBREAKING: Relatives identified the young mother who was fatally stabbed on a San Carlos street Thursday as Karina Castro. Her father was at the crime scene today where he wept in the middle of the street as loved ones tried to console him. bit.ly/3Bua8tL

Posted by KTVU Fox 2 on Friday, September 9, 2022

Authorities say the murder took place at around 11.50am, and officers were on the scene within minutes.

Once there, they saw Landaeta and two friends returning to the victim’s home, where he was quickly arrested.

‘After he cut her head off, he came walking up, him and his two friends,’ Thorborne told ABC7. ‘And they walked right by me and they arrested him.’

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

Police said they are still looking for the sword used in the beheading and an investigation is ongoing.

In the meantime, Castro’s family is fighting to get custody of Karina’s two daughters, who were put in the care of Child Protective Services in the aftermath.

‘I want those girls,’ Gannon told ABC7. ‘That’s what I want first, then I want Rafa to fry in jail. I don’t care what happens to him.’

Marty said he has also reached out to animal control to try to get custody of Karina’s dog and two cats, which were recovered from the scene.

A GoFundMe page set up in memory of Castro has seen more than $85,500 donated with supporters paying their respect for the mother of two.

Castro's grieving father, Marty (right), and her grandmother, Danielle Gannon, described her as an 'independent woman'

Castro's grieving father, Marty (right), and her grandmother, Danielle Gannon, described her as an 'independent woman'

Castro’s grieving father, Marty (right), and her grandmother, Danielle Gannon, described her as an ‘independent woman’

Authorities say the murder took place at around 11:50am, and officers were on the scene of Castro's San Carlos home within minutes

Authorities say the murder took place at around 11:50am, and officers were on the scene of Castro's San Carlos home within minutes

Authorities say the murder took place at around 11:50am, and officers were on the scene of Castro’s San Carlos home within minutes

Once there, they saw Landaeta and two friends returning to the victim's home, where he was quickly arrested

Once there, they saw Landaeta and two friends returning to the victim's home, where he was quickly arrested

Once there, they saw Landaeta and two friends returning to the victim’s home, where he was quickly arrested

One supporter wrote: ‘So sorry about that happened to your daughter. Hope your grandkids will be safe. I can’t believe my heart hurts so bad to hear this.’

Another wrote: ‘As a mother of an 8-year-old girl, I cannot imagine how unbelievably painful this must be for your family and Karina’s little girls. We are holding your family close to our hearts.’

A memorial Facebook page set up by the family has asked the community to post memories of the ‘dedicated mother’ and ‘loving friend.’

‘Please help us remember the loving Karina Castro,’ said a post to the memorial page.

‘Post your fondest memory of her, a funny story, a message for her daughters, a message for her family or any other positive message you can think of.

‘Vigil and service announcements will also be posted on this page if you would like information about upcoming events.’

Her kindness and loving nature a sentiment echoed by many posting their condolences.

One user wrote: ‘Karina was always so sweet and loving. She was an amazing mother and a hard worker.’

Another wrote: ‘I’m going to miss your kindness overall… I miss our random conversations and your voice on this messenger really broke me today.’