Friends, family hold 1 year remembrance for mom allegedly beheaded by boyfriend

Friday evening, friends and family of Karina Castro gathered at George Garret, Jr. Memorial Park in Redwood City. The peaceful and bucolic area was Karina’s favorite place to go. On this day, it’s a place of shared painful memories one year in the making.

"It’s been living a nightmare, every day. I can’t eat. I can’t sleep. I can’t really deal with daily activities. Every day I just want justice for her," said Monica Camacho, a family friend.

One year ago, Castro’s estranged boyfriend, Jose Landaeta, allegedly killed her outside her San Carlos home with a Samurai sword. At the time, San Mateo County District Attorney Stephen Wagstaffe stopped short of calling it a beheading.

"Beheading is a subjective phrase. Death was caused by a blow from the sword, to her neck area, several times," Wagstaffe said on Sept. 12, 2022.

The couple shared an infant, who’s now two years old, and with county Child Protective Services. Karina had an older daughter from a prior relationship. That child, who’s now eight years old, is with her biological father.

"I want everyone to remember Karina. She’s a beautiful person. She means the world to me and to everyone."

Landaeta is charged with first-degree murder. He has a pretrial hearing scheduled for Sept. 12 at the Redwood City Hall of Justice. If convicted on all charges, he faces 26 years to life in prison.

Those who attended the Friday remembrance service said it’s important to get justice for Karina, but also raise awareness about the issue of domestic violence.

"It’s been around for a long time. I want it to be stopped. I want to be out there to help women," said Camacho.

Jesse Gary is a reporter based in the station's South Bay bureau. Follow him on X (formerly Twitter), @JesseKTVU and on Instagram, @jessegontv