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2013: A deadly year in Hernando that included children as victims

It was the kind of crime scene that haunts detectives long after the case is closed.

Roseanna Sanson's bloody, bikini-clad body lay on the floor of her rented home in Hernando Oaks, south of Brooksville; her 9-month-old son Carter's body was not far away. Investigators say both had been stabbed to death by Sanson's boyfriend, Jamil Etayem, who then slit his own throat.

Just seven weeks later, deputies and detectives arrived to find two more children dead at the hands of their caretaker. Susie Castrillon, 8, and her 7-year-old brother, Sebastian, were fatally shot by their father, Daniel Castrillon, at the family's home in Trillium, southwest of Brooksville.

The disturbing murders are among the cases that made 2013 a busy year for detectives and forensics specialists at the Hernando County Sheriff's Office.

Though crime in Hernando continues on a general downward trend, the number of homicides and other high-profile cases "ebbs and flows" from year to year, said Hernando sheriff's Sgt. Phil Lakin, supervisor of the Crimes Against Persons unit.

This year, the cases flowed: seven homicide cases and nine victims.

That's not a record, and none of the cases were what Lakin calls "whodunits," requiring him to pull resources from throughout the Sheriff's Office to catch a killer.

But the statistics are noteworthy in other ways.

• Two of the three murder-suicides involved children.

• Two of the other homicides did not result in murder charges because prosecutors decided the shooters were justified in their actions.

• Three of the fatal shooting incidents happened in four days. Two of those — the same ones that didn't result in charges — happened less than 24 hours apart.

It all made for a busy year, Lakin said.

"We have a finite number of detectives, so we have to put more on the shoulders of one when we have bigger years," said Lakin, who supervises a staff of five investigators.

Part of their job, no matter the case, is to read the story told by the evidence at the scene, Lakin said. One case offers an example.

On May 23, Christopher Asciolla shot and killed 28-year-old Michael Challis in a bizarre incident in the front yard of Asciolla's Spring Hill home.

As Asciolla stood on the stoop, he saw a man, later identified as Challis, walking down the street with a large dog. Asciolla yelled for his own dog to come inside. Challis apparently thought Asciolla was yelling at him, crossed the street and started banging on the door.

Asciolla yelled through the door that he had a gun and warned Challis to leave. When the banging continued, Asciolla went back outside. His father, Robert Asciolla, followed with a handgun.

The Asciollas said Challis started a physical altercation with Robert. Christopher heard a gunshot and, thinking his father had been shot, pointed his gun at Challis and fired. The Asciollas said Challis had taken the Glock from the elder Asciolla and fired multiple times as he ran away.

Deputies found Challis dead about a block away.

Detectives and prosecutors concluded that forensic evidence corroborated the Asciollas' story. Florida's controversial "stand your ground" law gave Christopher Asciolla the right to go back outside and confront Asciolla instead of remaining in the secure confines of the house and calling 911, prosecutors said.

Murder-suicides can make for relatively straightforward investigations, especially when detectives find a note, as was the case in the deaths of young Susie and Sebastian Castrillon. Their father left a 21-word missive, apparently directed at his ex-wife and referencing her new boyfriend, in which he said he couldn't leave the kids "with you or with him."

"Any scene that you go to as a homicide investigator, you're there to honor the memory of the victim and do the best you can to give answers to the surviving family members as to how and why their family member was killed," Lakin said.

The same squad of deputies had responded to the Sanson murder-suicide just weeks earlier. Working murder scenes, especially when children are the victims, can exact a psychological toll. Turning to colleagues for support is helpful, Lakin said.

"We have to accept this is our calling and this is the job we do for the community in Hernando, and there are going to be some tough things we have to see," he said. "We all sit down together and talk about it, what we're thinking about it, what we feel about it, and I think that helps to process all of this."

Tony Marrero can be reached at tmarrero@tampabay.com or (352) 848-1431. Follow @tmarrerotimes on Twitter.

Homicides in 2013

Here is a summary of Hernando County's homicides in 2013 and what investigators say happened:

May 18: Glenna Jones, 66, was fatally shot by her husband, Michael Jones, who then shot himself. Their bodies were found in the Chassahowitzka Wildlife Management Area in northwest Hernando County. Jones, also 66, wrote in a suicide note that Glenna was cheating on him, but their daughter said that was not true.

May 23: Michael Challis, 28, was fatally shot during a fight with Christopher Asciolla and his father, Robert, in the Asciolla family's front yard on Pinehurst Drive in Spring Hill. Prosecutors decided not to file charges, saying evidence showed the Asciollas were standing their ground after Challis confronted them.

May 23: George Avedissian, 68, was fatally shot by 24-year-old Joshua Harth during an altercation at Avedissian's home on Ostrom Way, north of Weeki Wachee. Prosecutors decided not to file charges against Harth, saying evidence supported his account that Avedissian fired a rifle at him after an argument escalated. Harth said he wrestled the gun away from Avedissian and fired.

Sept. 5: Roseanna Sanson, 23, and her 9-month-old son Carter, were fatally stabbed by Sanson's boyfriend, Jamil Etayem, in their rented home in Hernando Oaks, south of Brooksville. Etayem then cut his own throat. Etayem did not leave a note, but when he was arrested on a domestic violence charge two weeks earlier, Sanson told authorities that Etayem had become distraught when she told him she was moving back to Ohio.

Oct 26-27: Susie Castrillon, 8, and her 7-year-old brother, Sebastian, were fatally shot by their father, Daniel Castrillon, at the family's home in Trillium, southwest of Brooksville. Castrillon, 39, then shot himself. A suicide note indicated he was upset about his recent divorce and his ex-wife's new boyfriend.

Nov. 2: Kenneth "Kenny" Schreffler, 43, was fatally shot by 29-year-old Juan Francisco Perez in the back yard of a home on Desales Street, southwest of Brooksville, investigators said. The two men had gotten into a fight moments earlier. Schreffler's girlfriend, Amber Rivenbark, also was shot but survived. Perez was charged with second-degree murder, among other charges.

Dec. 26: Authorities said Jeanne Moore, 49, shot and killed her husband, 44-year-old Shawn Moore, at their home on Weatherly Road, east of Brooksville. The Sheriff's Office said there had been a history of unreported domestic abuse between the two, but did not provide additional details about what led to the shooting. Moore was not arrested immediately. The case remained under investigation and will be turned over to the State Attorney's Office, authorities said.

Sources: Times files, Hernando County Sheriff's Office.

2013: A deadly year in Hernando that included children as victims 12/27/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, December 31, 2013 5:08pm]

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