Carmina Salcido, Whose Father Murdered Her Family, Has 'American Idol' Hopes

Carmina Salcido, 23, says massacre was "silent ... like lambs led to slaughter."

ByABC News
February 10, 2011, 1:55 PM

Feb. 10, 2011 — -- Carmina Salcido's dream of becoming the next "American Idol" won't come true just yet. After her audition in San Francisco, she was sent home.

"I was shocked. I thought I was gonna make it through. I was sure I was gonna get a golden ticket. I was disappointed. I felt like crying. But I hate showing emotion on the camera. Ryan [Seacrest] looked disappointed for me. Inside I was holding back tears," Salcido told the newspaper, The Press Democrat.

"But I know what to work on for next time, definitely. Projecting my voice," she said. The 24-year-old plans to re-enter the competition next summer.

Salcido may not have conquered this season of "American Idol," but her own story is one of great survival.

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 Salcido'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 Salcido was moving faster than either the cops or the press could comprehend.

Ramon Salcido'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 ... 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.'"

CLICK HERE to see photos of Carmina Salcido and her family through the years

Salcido said 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."