Search of Caro Home Detailed in Affidavits


Moments before Dr. Xavier Caro found three of his children shot dead last month, he found his wife lying in a master bedroom with a small steel revolver in her hand and four spent shell casings at her side, according to search warrant affidavits released Monday.

Socorro “Cora” Caro, 42, had blood on her hands and arms--possibly from the slain children--and an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head, the affidavits show.

In the bedroom, police later found antidepressant medication and two letters by Cora Caro detailing the couple’s marital problems.


Caro, a stay-at-home mom described by friends as a doting parent, was charged Friday with three counts of first-degree murder in the Nov. 22 shooting deaths of her three oldest sons, ages 5, 8 and 11. A fourth child, Gabriel, who is now 16 months old, was unharmed.

Prosecutors also filed a special-circumstance allegation of multiple murder that could mean Caro would face the death penalty.

The search warrant affidavits unsealed by court order Monday reveal potentially key evidence in the murder case.

And they show for the first time how detectives focused their investigation on Cora Caro within days of the shootings.

Between Nov. 23 and Dec. 2, Superior Court Judge Kenneth Riley authorized three separate warrants for the family’s upscale five-bedroom Presilla Road home near Moorpark.

In the first search, authorities found two letters apparently written by Cora Caro, one addressed to her husband that talked about their marriage being “over,” the documents show.


In the third search, authorities seized three boxes of Prozac in varying doses. The antidepressant medication, which appeared to be physician samples, were found in a closet cabinet within the master bedroom. The pills were stored inside a woman’s zippered vanity bag, according to the documents.

The warrants were all obtained by Sheriff’s Det. Steven Sagely, who arrived at the Caros’ home at 1:10 a.m. on Nov. 23 and talked to the deputies who first arrived at the home after Xavier Caro called 911 about two hours earlier.


According to Sagely’s written statement in support of the first warrant, the deputies reported that Xavier Caro came out of his house with his infant child Gabriel in his arms.

He was “screaming” about his wife and sons having been shot, the affidavit states. When the deputies searched the house, they found three dead boys and Cora Caro lying on her back in a master bedroom.

“There was blood spatter around her body,” according to the affidavit. “[Deputy Anthony] Tutino said he noticed a concentration of blood on the right side of the woman’s head. He noticed four bullet casings on the ground near the woman.”

Xavier Caro has said in other court documents that he came home from work on Nov. 22, got into a “trivial argument” with his wife and left again for a few hours.


The affidavit states he told authorities that when he returned about 11:20 p.m., he found his family shot. He also said he took the stainless-steel revolver from his wife and threw it across the couple’s bedroom.

Xavier told Tutino that he kept the revolver in a locked safe, and suggested that his wife had broken the lock to retrieve it, the affidavit states.

Tutino initially reported that Xavier Caro, a rheumatologist at Northridge Hospital Medical Center, told him his wife had confessed to the shootings.

But the doctor later told authorities that statement was inaccurate--a point reinforced by prosecutors on Monday.

“Mrs. Caro has never made any statements,” Deputy Dist. Atty. James Ellison said. “It never happened.”


After talking to Tutino about the deputy’s observations of the shooting, Sagely sought a warrant to search the Presilla Road home and three family cars--two Mercedes-Benzes and a GMC Suburban.


The warrant, signed by Riley, authorized deputies to look for firearms, ammunition, bullet fragments, blood-stained clothing, bank records, safes, address books and other items of potential evidence.

During the execution of the first warrant, a detective walking through the house with Xavier Caro found two letters that the husband identified as being written by the wife, according to a second affidavit.

One of the letters had been handwritten on lined paper and then wadded up, according to the document.

“It contained Socorro’s thoughts of her depression, her drinking and her unhappiness,” according to Sagely.

The other letter, which was written on a computer and addressed to Xavier Caro and dated June 24, “detailed how she and her husband were unable to communicate with each other and how the marriage was over.” It is unclear whether Xavier Caro had ever seen the letter before.

During the initial search of the house, Xavier Caro started to cry after noticing something unusual in the couple’s bedroom, according to the documents.


The doctor explained that every night after he came home, he would take off his gold bracelet and string it through his wedding band before leaving the jewelry in the top drawer of his dresser.

Gesturing to the dresser drawer as he talked to the detective the morning after the shooting, Xavier Caro pointed out that his wife’s wedding band and another ring of hers were also strung through his bracelet.

“His wife had never put her rings in his drawer or on his bracelet before,” Sagely later wrote. “I feel that they were left by a suspect as a message to her husband and may contain blood evidence from her children and/or gunshot residue.”

On Nov. 25, Sagely obtained the second search warrant. This time authorities were looking for computer files, including e-mail correspondence between the couple, Cora Caro’s two rings, answering machine tapes and Cora Caro’s passport.

According to the documents, authorities had identified her as “the main suspect in the homicide of her children” and feared she might be a flight risk.

The warrant also sought samples of dried blood from Cora Caro’s arms and hands. Sagely explained in his affidavit that the samples were needed to compare to the blood of the three victims.



“Based on my training and experience,” he wrote, “I believe the blood recovered from Socorro’s arms and hands will, when compared to the blood of her children, show that she fired the fatal shots.”

On Dec. 2, Sagely sought a third warrant to search the Caros’ house--specifically to seize the Prozac that detectives had previously observed and photographed in a bedroom closet.

Later, Sagely wrote to the judge and requested that the affidavit be sealed.

“Disclosing the contents of this affidavit to the public, press and the suspect’s attorney could result in witnesses and the suspect being tipped off concerning our investigation,” Sagely wrote.


Riley granted the request and all the warrant information was sealed.

But on Monday, an attorney representing the Ventura County Star newspaper asked Judge Steven Hintz to unseal those documents. Prosecutor Ellison did not object.

Ellison later explained that the district attorney’s office wanted the search warrant information to remain confidential until prosecutors filed criminal charges, and that happened Friday.

Cora Caro, who is recovering in the medical ward of Ventura County Jail, is scheduled to be arraigned Jan. 11. Her defense attorney, Richard Plotin of Encino, objected to the Star’s motion to unseal the documents but was unable to convince Hintz.