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Pain, shock of Salcido killings still vivid 20 years later
Friends, officers still try to make sense of mass murder rampage

  • Carmina Cecilia Richards, places flowers at the graves of her mother and two sisters, Tuesday April 14, 2009 at the Calvary Catholic Cemetery in Petaluma. Carmina was the lone survivor 20 years ago today when her father Ramon Salcido killed seven people. Salcido is on death row at San Quentin. (The Press Democrat)

Carmina Salcido this morning will place flowers on the graves of her mother, two sisters and three other relatives in Petaluma, marking the 20th anniversary of her fathers murderous rampage that shocked and enraged the community.

Carmina, who turns 23 next week, is the lone female member of her family to survive Ramon Salcidos horrifying crimes of April 14, 1989, which sent the former Sonoma Valley winery worker to Death Row at San Quentin Prison.

As the nation reels from a recent series of mass killings and child murders, including that of 8-year-old Sandra Cantu of Tracy, friends and law enforcement officers still struggle to make sense of the Salcido family tragedy.

Itll never work, said Mike Brown of Santa Rosa, a retired Sheriffs Department captain who headed the investigation of Sonoma Countys largest mass killing. There isnt going to be a rational explanation.

Carmina, who was raised by adoptive parents in Missouri and returned to Sonoma Valley in 2005, will not speak at todays ceremony and is not granting interviews now, said Gloria Allred, her Los Angeles attorney.

Her throat cut nearly ear to ear, Carmina survived for about a day and a half after her father dumped her and her sisters, Teresa, 1, and Sofia, 4, at a refuse site on Stage Gulch Road east of Petaluma.

Daddy cut me, she told a hospital nurse.

Salcido, then a 28-year-old winery worker, slashed the throats of his three daughters, his mother-in-law and her two daughters, 12 and 8, who also were molested. He shot to death his wife and a winery co-worker and wounded his boss.

Patricia Rile, former owner of a Santa Rosa dress shop and modeling school, recalled the anxiety the community suffered during the manhunt for Salcido, who was arrested near his hometown of Los Mochis, Mexico, five days after the killings.

I was scared to death, said Rile, who was drawn into the case because Angela Salcido had completed a class at Covers, her modeling school. Even now, Rile remains wary that Ramon Salcido may have friends in the area.

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