Saturday, April 21, 2018
Public safety

Note, report shed light on Hernando dad's killing kids, himself

BROOKSVILLE — Before he fatally shot both of his children and then himself, Daniel Castrillon picked up a red crayon and, in 21 Spanish words, tried to explain what he was about to do.

I'm sorry. I couldn't leave them with you or with him. We'll see you in another life. I hope the sex will be enough.

Hernando sheriff's investigators found the chilling missive in a bathroom in Castrillon's home in the Trillium subdivision southwest of Brooksville. The crayon, its point a waxy nub, lay beside it on the vanity.

The note, along with a closed Hernando Sheriff's Office investigation report, offers deeper insight into Castrillon's mind-set before he murdered Susie, 8, and Sebastian, 7, and killed himself in late October.

Castrillon, 39, left evidence suggesting he had tried to move past the sorrow and anger brought on by his divorce. Those last words, presumably directed at his ex-wife, Luzma, and referencing a new boyfriend, were written on the back of a list of goals Castrillon apparently had drafted for himself.

The list, typed in Spanish, featured the heading, "My new expectations in life." The first of the 16 goals: Have a better relationship with my children, and not be mad.

• • •

Court records show Castrillon and Luzma Jimenez married in 2007, about a year after Castrillon bought the four-bedroom, two-story home on Nodding Shade Drive.

College educated and easygoing, Castrillon worked as a customer service representative for Citibank in Tampa for about eight years. His cousin, Jans Tamayo of Spring Hill, said he did not have a history of mental health problems.

"He was very pleasant, never yelled," Tamayo said.

Both parents, he said, doted on the children, who attended Chocachatti Elementary School in Spring Hill. "It's very difficult to understand that so much love would not have stopped him from taking the lives of his kids," Tamayo said.

Jimenez, who according to county records remarried last month, could not be reached for comment for this story. Public photos on her Facebook page, which has since been removed, showed the family together and smiling on the beach during a camping trip in Sarasota two years ago. In May, Jimenez posted photos of the family celebrating her birthday at Busch Gardens in Tampa.

Jimenez told investigators later that they traveled to the couple's native Colombia about once a year and last visited there in July.

Jose Guerrero, who met the couple about two years ago and became close friends with Castrillon, said the couple vacationed at the TradeWinds Island Resorts in St. Pete Beach in September for Castrillon's birthday. Shortly after that, Guerrero said, Jimenez dropped a bomb.

"She told him for the first time that she didn't want to be with him anymore," said Guerrero, of Spring Hill. "They had some rockiness, but to him it was a big shock."

Guerrero said Castrillon was devastated but hopeful, even as he helped Jimenez move out of the house in mid October and into an apartment in the Spring Hill complex where she worked as a leasing agent.

Tamayo told Castrillon to give Jimenez some space.

"He loved her so much, he was willing to do anything to get her back," Tamayo said. "I said relax and be strong."

Jimenez filed divorce papers on Oct. 22, checking "irretrievably broken" as the reason for the dissolution. She asked the court to divide the couple's assets, grant joint custody of the children and award her child support.

Guerrero suspected Jimenez was seeing someone else.

"(Castrillon) was in denial, but all the signs were there," Guerrero said. "She assured him it wasn't because of somebody else. I told him not to dig any further. If she is with somebody else, she is, but she doesn't want to be with you. I said, brother, you need to turn your attention off of her and onto you."

The printed list of life goals found in the house suggest Castrillon took that advice. Among his other goals:

Find the best woman for me.

Increase the self-esteem, not lament anymore and see myself better in the mirror each day.

Improve communication with my boss, with my children and in 3 months with my ex.

Guerrero saw the list for the first time last week. He said tears came to his eyes when he read it.

"That list," Guerrero said, "says he got the point."

• • •

On Friday, Oct. 25, Castrillon let himself in to Luzma's apartment and found proof that she was seeing someone else, Guerrero said. He declined to elaborate.

That evening, a distraught Castrillon came to Guerrero's house with the children in tow. While there, Sebastian told Castrillon not to worry, that he was still their father and the other man was just their stepfather, Guerrero recalled.

The comment "took (Castrillon) to a different level," Guerrero said. He mentioned taking the children to Colombia. Guerrero said that would be unwise. You'd be a fugitive, Guerrero told him, and the children need their mother.

Guerrero suggested they stay at his house, but Castrillon said they needed to get home to change. Guerrero found out later that Castrillon went to Jimenez's apartment and had another argument with her.

At 11:58 p.m. that night, Castrillon posted a message on Facebook in both Spanish and English: "Luzma, thanks for replacing me so quickly. Now I can move on.''

• • •

Jimenez sounded tense but not panicked when she called 911 at 7:20 p.m. that Sunday.

As she stood in front of the house on Nodding Shade, Jimenez told the operator that her ex-husband had trespassed at her apartment Friday, visited her at the complex's leasing office where she worked, then returned to the apartment later that night. Jimenez said he was angry and aggressive and threatened to attempt suicide or take the kids to Colombia. She said he keeps a gun in the house.

"I'm very scared that something happened to my kids," she told the dispatcher.

Jimenez later told deputies that Castrillon calmed down and took the kids Friday night, agreeing she would pick them up the next day. He did not respond to her calls or text messages on Saturday. She came to the house three times on Sunday and called 911 after no one answered the door the third time.

A neighbor told deputies she saw Castrillon about 10:30 p.m. Saturday. It was apparently the last time anyone saw him alive.

Deputies found Sebastian's body in bed in an upstairs bedroom. He'd been shot once in the back of the head.

Castrillon and Susie were lying side by side in bed in what appeared to be Sebastian's room. Castrillon had shot Susie once in the back of the head, then put the 9mm Beretta in his mouth and pulled the trigger.

• • •

Two weeks later, about 30 of Castrillon's friends, family and co-workers gathered at St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church in Spring Hill for a memorial service.

The priest reminded those gathered that only God could judge Castrillon. Everyone else, the priest said, should remember him as the man they knew before his final act.

Staff writer Laura C. Morel contributed to this report. Tony Marrero can be reached at [email protected] or (352) 848-1431. Follow @tmarrerotimes on Twitter.

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