Experts say most children don't have memories before they're at least two or three years old. But if your earliest memories were anything like Carmina Salcido's, you might not want them at all.
At age 3, Carmina survived the shocking massacre of her entire family. Her father, Ramon Salcido, then a 28-year-old hard-drinking and hot-tempered vineyard worker, ambushed his co-workers, murdered his wife, several in-laws, and slashed the throats of his three young daughters, leaving them for dead in a garbage dump. Miraculously, she survived.
CLICK HERE to read an excerpt of Carmina's book, "Not Lost Forever."
On April 14, 1989, detectives traced the trail of the killer who had left seven people dead, across 30 miles of wine country; from the vineyard, to his home where he shot his wife and ultimately to the dump, where he left his daughters before he fled to Mexico. Ramon was moving faster than either the cops or the press could comprehend.
Ramon's killing spree upended life as Carmina knew it. She said she remembers details from that traumatizing day vividly: her father picked her up out of bed, put her and her sisters in the car and drove away.
"I remember actually him carrying me out of the house that morning," she told ABC's "20/20." "Probably about 15 minutes into driving I lean up over the front seat and go, 'Papa where are we going?' He turned around. He was mad. He turned around and gave me such an evil look and he's like, 'Shut up and sit down.'"
She said that before her father slit her sisters' throats, the air was filled with a "dark energy."
"I look over at my sister Sofia, and she has this look of terror on her face. She knows something's terribly wrong. The atmosphere is just thick," she told "20/20." "I'm looking up at him, [and said] 'Papa, please don't cut me.'"
Carmina said that the girls didn't cry when their father first took her sister Teresa, threw her on the ground and slashed her across the belly and throat.
"There's no crying," she said. "It was silent -- like lambs led to a slaughter."
Crime scene photos confirm Carmina's account.
"[He] grabs my hair, pulls my head back and I put my hands up … protecting, so he cut open my fingers and I moved them." And then, she told "20/20", her father slashed her throat." I move my hands out of the way, [in] one clean cut. It was just like a razor. You almost don't feel anything. And I just went out."
Mike Brown -- at the time a Sonoma County Sgt. Detective supervising the investigation -- was deeply concerned for the girls' safety. "I asked God to keep his hand on them," he told "20/20."
Some 36 hours after the massacre, Carmina was discovered by a transient about 20 feet from the road. He described seeing three doll-like figures in an open field; then one of the "dolls" suddenly moved.
"I hear this jump. I hear, 'Oh my God!' And I believe it's my dad coming back," Carmina explained. "I froze up. I was like, 'If I play dead, he won't have to do anything else to me.'"
That a three-year-old survived for 36 hours in an open field with a slit throat, stunned doctors.