Murder Rampage Survivor Breaks Silence

Date: 2005-11-03

SACRAMENTO (KRON) -- She was the three-year-old lone survivor of a murderous rampage that left seven people dead in 1989. Now, Carmina Salcido is an adult and has broken her silence of 16 years to talk about the mass killer -- her father, Ramon Salcido.

Now 19 years old and going by the name of Cecilia Tucker, the lone survivor of the Salcido family has some pleasant memories of early childhood. But it's the horrific ones that have dominated her young life.

"I did witness my sisters being cut," she told KRON 4's Don Knapp. "Like lambs led silently to the slaughter. I don't recall much of a struggle. It was quick and short and silent. And horrific."

In April of 1989, Ramon Salcido murdered his wife, Angela, an aspiring model. He also killed his mother-in-law, Louise, and two sisters-in-law, 12-year-old Ruthie and 8-year-old Maria. Salcido's next victim was his Sonoma winery boss, Tracey Toovey. Salcido then took his three daughters to the Petaluma city dump, sliced their throats and threw them from the car.

"Not only did he cut their throats, he sliced over their bodies, as well," Carmina recalled. "And to watch that, I mean, just get over with it. You know, no reason for that extra horror."

Carmina says she remembers fighting back, grabbing at the blade before it cut her throat.

"He was half in the car and half out and had me laying across his lap," she said. "I fought back with my hands, and that's when I got the cuts on my hands."

At one point, Carmina says, her father restrained her by the head as he tried to cut his daughter's throat. Because of Carmina's struggle, he had to let go of her head and, Carmina says, that's when she may have unknowingly saved her own life by jutting her head forward.

"They said, by a millimeter, he missed my jugular vein," Carmina said.

Carmina says her father threw her to the ground, and when she crawled toward him, he kicked her and ran, spooked by a passing car.

All that day, and most of the next, she lay in the dump, cuddling with her dead sisters, Sophia, 4, and Teresa, 22 months.

Then Carmina thought she heard her father's footsteps.

"I just thought, if I play totally dead, he'll walk right by me and think his job was totally done and just go away," she said.

The footsteps passed.

"Then, I thought, all right, it's safe, and I let out my breath, and I moved my leg out and kind of rolled over a bit," Carmina recalls.

Her movement startled a man who had come to the dump.

"He thought we were dolls laying there until he saw one of us, which would have been me, move," she said. "I remember then hearing all the sirens coming and the helicopter coming in and just terrified at the noise. I didn't have any clue what was happening. Here was actually my help."

Carmina spent 15 years of her life with an adoptive family in Missouri, and a year in a Carmelite convent, perhaps atoning, she says, for the crimes of her father. Now she's back in California, visiting her mother's relatives.

Carmina wants to write a book and asked KRON 4 News to help her go public with her story. She says telling her story is therapeutic for her and thinks it may be inspiring for others.

"It's hopefully something that will bring a spark of encouragement to people out there that say, 'wow, I didn't even go through that much. You know, maybe my situation isn't bad. Maybe I can cope with it, too.'"

Carmina sees her survival as a miracle and a sign of her strong will to live.

As for her father, Ramon Salcido, he remains on San Quentin's Death Row.

"I have, in my heart, forgiven him for what he's done," Carmina said. "I really do want to hear a simple sentence from him, which is, 'I'm sorry for what I did."


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