Jose Rios had arrived at his work at Carey Ranch Park in Sylmar on Feb. 23 around sunrise.
Rios, who’s in charge of maintenance here, came upon what he thought was a sleeping person shortly after he arrived. But on closer examination he noticed the blood on the body.
“She was on her side. She had a lot of blood on her face,” Rios recalled. “Her throat had been slit. I guess they were really mad at her for something.”
The Los Angeles county Coroner’s Office identified the victim as Karen Tobar, 23, of Panorama City. She was found about 6:15 a.m. in the park on Feb. 23, located near the intersection of Laurel Canyon Boulevard and Crestknoll Drive.
Tobar also had stabbing cuts on her lower back, but apparently she had not been robbed or assaulted, as far as Rios could tell.
Her black jeans were fine. She also wore black shoes, a stone-colored shirt and a brown jacket.
She also had four rings on her fingers.
Tobar — who, according to what family members told Rios, would turn 24 next month — was a mother of two young kids.
According to Rios, the victim’s mother-in-law said she had been hanging with the wrong crowd and had fallen on hard times lately.
“She said (Tobar) was on drugs,” Rios said the mother-in-law told him.
Those responsible for her death did some work to get her to the park which, Rios said, is at the top of a hill at the end of a long driveway. The doors to the park are closed at sunset every day, he said.
There is speculation that Tobar was killed somewhere else and brought to the park. Rios said police investigators — for now — think three men pushed her body over the fence that covers the entire perimeter of the park at the bottom of the hill, while another person waited inside. Then they all carried the body up the hill until they left the body on the grass.
Authorities are checking cameras on homes in front and around the park to try to identify the culprits, Rios added.
A street memorial with some flowers, a balloon saying “I love you,” some candles and a white rosary was placed at the location where she was found, very close to the curb as one enters the park.
Rios said the discovery has had a deep impact on him. “I haven’t been able to sleep for two days,” he admitted.
While he was shaken by the violent act, Rios said he was not that surprised that the body of Tobar was abandoned at the park.
Last year someone stole a lot of items from his car here, he said, and the park — while tranquil and in a nice area — has become dangerous.
“A lot of people come to prostitute themselves and do drugs,” Rios said.
Much of the park is deserted and far away from homes, making it an ideal spot for illegal activity as well as recreation, Rios said.
Anyone with information on the case was urged to call (877) LAPD-247.