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Placerville homicide: Suspect arrested near the border

By From page A1 | June 21, 2017

The man suspected of the June 13 stabbing death of a Placerville woman and of savagely wounding a child in the same incident – the subject of a widespread alert issued by the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Department – was arrested in Southern California less than three days later, some 10 miles from the Mexican border.

Bernardo Castillo, 24, was wanted for questioning in the brutal homicide that left 49-year-old Silvia Castillo fatally wounded inside the fifth-wheel trailer where she lived with four others. While a frequent visitor, Bernardo reportedly did not live inside the home; sheriff’s officials are not saying whether the two Castillos are related.

But residents inside the mobile home park where the slaying took place, just east of Placerville, last week told Village Life that Bernardo often visited the inhabitants of the fifth-wheel, parked in space 33 in the 33-unit Mountain View Mobile Manor on Newtown Road.

In addition to the woman suffering fatal knife wounds, a 4-year-old girl was found inside the residence, bleeding from multiple stab wounds. The child underwent emergency surgery and as of Friday was expected to recover.

Bernardo Castillo was arrested either late Thursday or early Friday after police officials in El Centro in Imperial County received a report of a suspicious vehicle. A check of the expired license plate revealed the white 2002 Ford Explorer was the same one included in the alert that had come out of El Dorado County earlier in the week.

Castillo was taken into custody without incident.

Local sheriff’s authorities were advised of the apprehension at about 2 a.m. Friday, June 16. A check Sunday to learn whether the suspect had been booked into the Placerville jail resulted in no listing of him being in custody here. Officials at the Imperial County Jail in El Centro said Sunday morning that they did not have a Bernardo Castillo in custody.

Inquiries into whether Bernardo Castillo was to be transported back to Placerville over the weekend went unanswered. It is unknown when a possible court arraignment might take place; no word on what charges might be lodged was available at press time.

The assistant manager of the mobile home park where the killing and apparent attempted murder occurred said he was “really grateful” that he snapped a photograph of the vehicle in which Castillo reportedly fled. Ray Skullr had taken the image as part of his duties at the park at 3020 Newtown Road, something he does when he spots an expired tag.

Once sheriff’s officers converged on the scene of the brutal slaying that was discovered in the late afternoon of Tuesday, June 13, Skullr said he told them about the photograph and supplied them with a copy that was distributed with the alert. Without that image, law enforcement may not have had an exact license plate number to broadcast, Skullr reflected, with El Centro law enforcement using that information to prompt an arrest.

Silvia Castillo was found by a young teenaged boy who also reportedly lived in the fifth-wheel residence where the family reportedly resided for about a year. The 13- or 14-year-old had just gotten home to find the gruesome sight of the older woman and the little girl covered in blood. He ran for help to a nearby residence where a woman quickly came to the aid of the wounded girl. Law enforcement was summoned and the search for Bernardo Castillo was launched.

Pat Lakey

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