Mother of Slain Children Questions Court System

Amy Castillo, the mother of three young children who were allegedly drowned by their father in a Baltimore hotel room, said Thursday that her estranged husband was becoming angrier in the weeks preceding the children's deaths.Video by News Channel 8/WJLA-TV 7Related Article
By Dan Morse
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, April 4, 2008

A Silver Spring woman whose three children were slain last weekend in a case in which her husband has been charged said yesterday that the court system in Montgomery County needs to better understand mental illness and that "some people . . . would not listen to me."

"I felt almost like something was going to happen," said Amy Castillo, speaking publicly for the first time since her children were drowned Saturday in a Baltimore hotel room. "I can say, 'I told you so.' But unfortunately, 'I told you so' doesn't give me much relief."

Castillo, 43, stood before a bank of TV cameras inside McLean Bible Church, where she plays violin in the orchestra and where at least two of the children were enrolled in Bible classes. She spoke for 12 minutes with two friends by her side, choking up as she described the difficulty of knowing that she must continue without her children.

Castillo, a pediatrician, said she spoke out because she has realized how many people have been hurt by the deaths. The children -- Anthony, 6, Austin, 4, and Athena, 2 -- will be remembered tomorrow at a service at the church in Vienna.

Mark Castillo, 41, is charged with first-degree murder in the children's deaths. He told investigators that he killed them 2 1/2 hours before he was required to return them to his wife under a visitation agreement worked out in court, authorities said. Amy Castillo lived with her children in Silver Spring.

According to charging documents, Castillo told investigators that he drowned the children one by one at a hotel near the Inner Harbor. He said he swallowed 100 Motrin tablets and stabbed himself in the neck with a steak knife. He drifted into unconsciousness and woke up 19 hours later, realizing his suicide attempt had failed, the documents say.

The court file chronicling the Castillos' separation and custody dispute offers little explanation of what might have triggered the slayings.

At the church, Amy Castillo said that she had told her husband he needed to get a job. She also said she had "found issues" with a van he drove and "turned the tags into the motor vehicle association, forcing him to go get new tags."

"And I think all around he was in trouble," she said. "I think he was getting more and more angry."

Mark Castillo had been diagnosed with depression and was involuntarily committed to a psychiatric hospital for a week after planning to kill himself in 2006, according to court records.

Amy Castillo said that she was always concerned when her husband had the children and that she once hid them at a friend's house to keep them from him. "I was willing to accept the consequences," she said.

Castillo spoke in a meeting room in the sprawling church, which draws about 10,000 people during a typical weekend.

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