Mass murder survivor visits family's graves

April 14, 2009 7:37:06 PM PDT
There are some anniversaries in life that we remember only because we feel obliged. The anniversary at Calvary Cemetery in Petaluma, today, fits that category. But, it also featured a taint of commercialism.

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This morning, a white sedan pulled up to the cemetery, and a young woman stepped out, wearing blue jeans, and carrying flowers. In a coldish, spring wind, Carmina Salcido visited six graves belonging to her mother, grandmother, two sisters and two young aunts, who died 20 years ago today, at the hands of her father Ramon in the most brutal mass murders in Sonoma County history.

"My sister, Angela, was going to leave him," Carmina's uncle Lewis Richards, who also visited the graves with two of his brothers this morning, said. "It was revenge."

Ramon Salcido killed his wife with a knife, and then cut his three daughters' throats before leaving them for dead. He then killed three more family members at the in-laws' home in Cotati. Salcido also killed Tracy Toovey, the man he suspected of having an affair with his wife.

Only 3-year-old Carmina lived, and that was a fluke of twisted good fortune following bad.

"Carmina survived for 36 hours in a garbage dump," former Sonoma County Detective Mike Brown, who also attended, said. "She was cut ear-to-ear, but landed in a sitting position, keeping the wound closed."

Carmina never testified at the murder trial and she was adopted by a family in Missouri. In an interview last July, she described them as, conservative, religious, and how they kept her confined in an environment that was almost medieval. "I experienced seventeen years of abuse, every form you can imagine," she told reporter David Bolling of the Index-Tribune.

Now, Carmina has written a book about her life, which may explain her silence, today, and also the presence of attorney Gloria Allred, who remained next to her while visiting the graves.

"She's not talking today, but 20/20 is interested," Allred said, after reading a prepared statement. "They may want your video tape."

Terry Hilton, another friend of Carmina, told us that she has forgiven her father, who remains on death row at San Quentin Prison. "That's important to her," Hilton said.

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