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July 09 , 2009

Not Lost Forever


Twenty years ago, one man's murderous rampage destroyed his own family . . . and devastated a community. Now the only survivor—his daughter—tells her story at last.

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On April 14, 1989, for reasons still debated today, Mexican immigrant Ramón Salcido went on a violent rampage in the idyllic Sonoma Valley wine country where he lived and worked. In the course of just two hours, he killed his wife, Angela, her two younger sisters, his mother-in-law, and the man with whom he suspected Angela was having an affair. He then slashed the throats of his three young daughters—four-year-old Sophia, three-year-old Carmina, and twenty-two-month-old Teresa—leaving them for dead in the county dump. A little more than a day later, the bodies of his daughters were discovered. Miraculously, tiny Carmina was still alive and able to tell her rescuers, "My daddy cut me."

In Not Lost Forever, Carmina Salcido explores the events surrounding these headline-making murders with extraordinary clarity and composure. Reaching back to understand the events that traumatized her in childhood—and weaving them together with the recollections of detectives and witnesses—she reconstructs the story of her father's crimes, and their aftermath, in sobering detail.

Yet Carmina's story doesn't end there. Those who remember her as the tiny victim of these murders will also be shocked by what followed: how she was adopted by a Catholic extremist family who tried to change her name and bury her past; how she tried to escape their sheltering influence by joining a Carmelite convent and then a ranch for troubled girls; and how the psychological trials she endured along the way nearly broke her spirit—until, at last, she found peace by turning to the one relative still alive to share her grief: her grandfather.

As a young woman, Carmina returned to California to share her experiences and discover the family that was brutally taken from her. The devout Catholic also returned to look into her father's eyes on death row and confront the man who took away her entire family. With clear-eyed candor, courage, and grace, this brave young woman takes readers along on her miraculous journey of survival, discovery, and hope.

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