Sunday, Apr 20, 2014
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Father kills two children, then self, in Trillium home in October

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BROOKSVILLE - The Nodding Shade Drive home, with Halloween decorations in the front yard and an SUV in the driveway, looked like many others in the Trillium subdivision, just south of Brooksville.

But inside, deputies say, a man distraught about an impending divorce shot and killed his two children as they slept before turning the gun on himself.

On the evening of Oct. 27, Hernando County Sheriff's Office deputies found Daniel Castrillon, 39, dead from a single gunshot wound to his head in his daughter's bed at 975 Nodding Shade Drive. Next to him lay Susana Castrillon, 8, also dead from a gunshot wound to the head. Sabastian Castrillon 7, was found dead in his own bed with a single gunshot wound to the head.

The children were second- and third-grade students at Chocachatti Elementary School. Their mother, Luz Jimenez, was not injured.

An investigation found the parents had been separated for about two months, and Jimenez filed for divorce about two weeks before the murders and suicide.

An investigation found Castrillon and Jimenez had argued on the telephone about "relationship issues" the Friday before the killings. Castrillon showed up at Jimenez's home, made "suicidal statements" and threatened to flee with Susana and Sabastian to his native Colombia.

After Castrillon calmed down, Jimenez allowed her ex-husband to take the children for the night and made arrangements to pick them up on Saturday.

Jimenez called Castrillon numerous times on Saturday and did not speak with him.

On Sunday, Jimenez went to the Nodding Shade Drive house twice before calling the sheriff's office at about 7:30 p.m.

Deputies entered the house and found the bodies upstairs.

"It's very difficult anytime you have innocent children killed," Sheriff Al Nienhuis said at a news conference. "It's even worse when they're killed by someone who is supposed to be there to take care of them."

An investigation also found Castrillon left a suicide note in a bathroom, written in Spanish in crayon.

Law enforcement officials believe the shootings took place on Friday or Saturday night. Castrillon did not have any prior arrests, Nienhuis said. Property records show Castrillon bought the home in 2006.

"I feel for my deputies who had to deal with this (Sunday) night," Nienhuis said, adding it was the same squad who responded to a "similar" murder-suicide in Hernando Oaks in September.

Court records show Jimenez and Castrillon were married in September 2007. Documents indicate the marriage was "irretrievably broken."

Michael Morgan, who lives a few doors down from the Castrillon home, said Susana and Sabastian seemed like "perfectly normal kids."

Morgan said he would see them when he took his siblings to a nearby pool.

"You'd think there was nothing wrong," Morgan said.

Kathleen Vogtle, a communication coordinator with the National Alliance on Mental Illness, said suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States.

Vogtle said alliance statistics indicate about 90 percent of those who commit suicide have a diagnosed mental illness.

"A lot of times, preventing suicides falls in with making sure someone who has a diagnosis gets treated," Vogtle said, adding the chances of suicide increase when a person goes through an isolating event, such as getting a divorce or becoming a widow.

A vigil was held at Choca- chatti Elementary School the Friday following the murders. About 200 of Susana and Sabastian's classmates, as well as parents and community members, attended the gathering to spend time together and share memories.

"As a community we pulled together," said Chocachatti Principal Lara Silva at the gathering. "And I'm incredibly proud of my staff and my teachers for ... handling such a difficult time."

Grief counselors were called to Chocachatti after the slayings to work with staff and students.

wbiddlecombe@hernandotoday.com

(352) 544-5283

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