Worried Mother's Calls Handled Properly, Police Say; Children Later Found Dead

By Raymond McCaffrey
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, April 29, 2008

On the night a Rockville man allegedly drowned his three children in a Baltimore hotel, Montgomery County police followed proper protocol and even went "beyond the normal steps" when his estranged wife reported concerns about the children's whereabouts, an internal police department review has determined.

Mark Castillo, 41, was indicted yesterday and charged with three counts of first-degree murder and child abuse resulting in death. He had previously been charged by criminal complaint, and the indictment was a routine step.

Authorities have said Castillo told investigators that he killed the children -- Anthony, 6, Austin, 4, and Athena, 2 -- at 6 p.m. March 29, which was 2 1/2 hours before the deadline to return them to his wife, Amy Castillo. She called police three times between 10:30 p.m. and 9 a.m. the next day to report that the children had not been returned to her in Silver Spring and that her husband had "mental health issues." Mark Castillo called the hotel's front desk shortly before 1 p.m. March 30 and said he killed his children and planned to kill himself, police have said.

Lt. Paul Starks, a Montgomery police spokesman, said the review determined that the department "followed our protocol" and "acted within the law" in its response to Amy Castillo's calls.

The department review, which was completed the week after the slayings, determined that the officer assigned to the case "went beyond the normal steps in making phone calls to the assisting agencies involved," including the sheriff's department and a court commissioner, Starks said.

"We looked at computer records, dispatching records, phone records and also interviewed people involved," Stark said.

Phone calls seeking comment from Amy Castillo were not immediately returned yesterday.

Mark Castillo will not enter a plea until his arraignment May 19, Assistant Public Defender Natasha Dartigue Moody said in a statement.

"On behalf of my client, Mark Castillo, I implore everyone to reserve judgment until all of the relevant facts and circumstances surrounding this tragic event have been fully explored and investigated," she said. "I remain concerned about Mark Castillo's physical, emotional and mental state."

Castillo continues to be held without bail at a jail hospital.

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