28-year-old Ramon Salcido worked at Grand Cru Winery in Sonoma County, California. His wife, Angela, worked as a seamstress and the couple had three daughters: 4-year-old Sofia, 3-year-old Carmina, and 22-month-old Teresa.
In April of 1989, things for Ramon started to deteriorate. He was close to being fired as he was deemed unreliable and life at home wasn’t much better. Ramon bullied and controlled Angela and she was just about gaining the strength and independence to leave him.
Moreover, Angela had just recently found out that Ramon had a second wife with whom he had a baby with. While Ramon and his first wife had separated, they never actually got a divorce and now, she had tracked him down and obtained a court order forcing him to pay her $511 a month in addition to $5,807 to the Social Service Department of Fresno County to repay sums turned over by that agency to her.1
Ramon was also angry by the fact that Angela had recently been approached by two modelling agencies who felt as though she could have a lucrative career in television commercials. Ramon was furious of the thought of his wife straying from home and having her own successful career. He became so jealous that Angela was forbidden from even going grocery shopping alone and he came home from work several times throughout the day to check on her.2
Unable to come to terms with the seeds that he’d sown, Ramon did the unthinkable.
On the 14th of April, 1989, after spending the night snorting cocaine and drinking, Ramon drove his three daughters to a dump on Stage Gulch Road. Once here, he placed his daughters over his knee and slit their throats one by one. He then tossed them into the brush. Afterwards, he drove to his in-laws home in Cotati where he sat outside and waited for his father-in-law, Bob Richards, to leave home for work as a United Parcel Service driver. Ramon then knocked on the front door and told his mother-in-law, Marian Richards, that he needed to borrow a tool.
When Marian turned back into the house to retrieve the tool, Ramon knocked her to the ground with a blow to the head. He forced his way inside and closed the door behind him before stabbing Marian to death and then turning on her daughters. Both 12-year-old Ruth and 8-year-old Maria were stabbed to death.
Before leaving, Ramon placed a call to his wife, Angela. When Angela confirmed that she was at home, Ramon stole a pistol from the Richards’ household and climbed back into his car. From here, Ramon drove to the family’s home at Boyes Hot Springs and shot Angela four times, killing her. There was evidence in the home that Angela had fought desperately for her life and a struggle ensued throughout several rooms.
Afterwards, Ramon drove to Grand Cru Winery and lay in wait for Tracy Toovey, a married father of two children, including a newborn baby boy. When Tracy appeared, Ramon flashed his lights, signalling for Tracy to stop. When Stacy stopped, Ramon approached the car and shot Tracy in the head, killing him instantly.
Ramon then drove to the Kenwood home of Ken Butti, who was the supervisor at Grand Cru. He aimed his pistol and fired. Thankfully, he missed any of Ken’s vital organs and shot him once in the shoulder. Ramon then aimed at Ken’s wife, Terri, and pulled the trigger. However, the gun jammed and Ramon left. When police arrived at the scene, Ken identified Ramon as the shooter and said he had no idea why he had tried to kill him and his wife. At one point, Ramon had been a valued employee and he had no issues with him.
With a name, police set out trying to track Ramon down. Soon enough, the majority of the bodies were soon discovered. However, Ramon’s three daughters were still missing.
The entire town clung on to hope that they were okay and Ramon had simply run away with them. The following day, however, they would soon come to discover that this wasn’t true. A young man was walking along the edge of a quarry bordering the dump and came across a gruesome scene: three young girls, lying motionless and surrounded in blood. He rushed to the quarry supervisor’s office and called police.
When police arrived at the scene, both Sofia and Teresa were dead but miraculously, Carmina was still clinging to life despite the fact that her throat had been slit from ear to ear. She was rushed to the hospital where she told staff: “Daddy cut me…” Dr. Dennis McCleod said that Carmina had managed to survive because she had been sitting up for almost 30 hours and that had prevented her from choking to death on her own blood. Her larynx had almost been severed and the base of her tongue was torn in the slashing. One of her fingers had been sliced almost to the tendon, presumably from Carmina attempting to protect herself from her father. An autopsy concluded that the girls had all been molested before having their throats slit.
Following the murders, Ramon fled to Mexico via Calexio. He made his way to his hometown where his relatives turned him in to police. As officers flew out to bring him back, officials at the Sonoma County Jail were worried that he would be killed due to his brutal crime. The inmates were so touched by the crime in fact, that they mustered $800 to donate towards a trust fund for Carmina. “There were inmates who had maybe $1, $2, $5 for buying cigarettes or toiletries, and they pledged every bit of it,” said Reverend Robert Gutleben, a former jail chaplain.3
After his arrest, he thanked the man who discovered his daughters and displayed concern over the custody of Carmina. Young Carmina underwent a tracheostomy and a tube had to be inserted into her windpipe to ease her breathing until the wound healed. She was adopted by a couple who were friends with her grandfather, Robert Richards. As an adult, she wrote a book about her survival titled: “Not Lost Forever.”4
Ramon Salcido was found guilty of six counts of first-degree murder, one count of second-degree murder and two counts of attempted murder. He was sentenced to death and is currently on Death Row in San Quentin State Prison.