On The Case With Paula Zahn is examing the murder of Michelle Castillo, a mother of five children, who was killed by her estranged husband, Braulio Castillo, at her home in Loudon County, Virginia.
On the morning of March 20, 2014, four of Michelle Castillo’s children awoke to realize that their mother was missing. Later that day, the cops found Michelle in a basement shower. Her corpse was hanging from the showerhead in what at first glance looked like a suicide.
However, experienced detectives quickly ascertained that this was no suicide; Michelle had been suffocated and strangled, and the killer had tried to make it look like she’d killed herself.
The cops immediately turned their attention to Michelle’s estranged husband, Braulio Castillo. Castillo had a history of abuse against his wife, and she had successfully got a restraining order put on him. She had also recently instigated divorce proceedings. In the eyes of the police, Castillo was suspect number one.
The detectives had a key piece of evidence, a neighbor’s security camera from the night of March 19 had spotted a male jogger running up to the house and creeping inside shortly before Michelle returned home with the children.
The police surmised that this was their killer. He had broken into the home and hidden inside, waiting for the children to fall asleep before he killed their mother.
The security footage did not reveal the killer’s face, but friends of the Castillo’s could identify Braulio from his distinctive gait.
Evidence mounted up against Braulio Castillo
There was further evidence against Braulio; his 11-year-old son would later tell the cops that his father had asked him for the security passcode for the home’s alarm system, which allowed him to break in easily. Also, Castillo’s dentist would later testify that the killer’s dental braces had been damaged in what was most likely a physical struggle.
In June 2016, Castillo was put on trial, where he continued to deny that he had done anything wrong and insisted that Michelle had committed suicide. However, a jury disagreed with him and convicted him of murder.
Castillo was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. He also received a further 16-year sentence for burglary and for violating the restraining order that had been issued against him for spousal abuse.
At the sentencing, 12-year-old Jonathan Castillo told his father through a letter read out by his foster mom: “You have no idea what you have done to your children. You deny that you murdered mom, and that’s another lie. You know you did it. I know it. We all know it.”
More from On The Case With Paula Zahn
Follow the links to read about more murders examined by investigative journalist Paula Zahn.
The sickening Earl Webster Cox kidnapped, imprisoned, tortured, and raped 9-year-old Angie Housman for up to a week before tying her to a tree in the woods and leaving her to die.
The 1972 murder of Pamela Milam remained a mystery for decades until advances in DNA forensic technology revealed that the killer was Jeffrey Hand. He was not brought to trial as he had already perished in a shootout with the police in 1978.
On The Case With Paula Zahn airs at 10/9c on Investigation Discovery.