Man Killed Girlfriend, Daughter Thinking They Were 'Witches:' Sources

By Murray WeissKatie Honan and Aidan Gardiner  on January 29, 2014 7:37am  | Updated on January 29, 2014 9:41pm

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 Carlos Amarillo, 44, killed his girlfriend Estrella Castaneda and her daughter Lina Castaneda with a hammer on Jan. 27, 2014, prosecutors charge.
East Elmhurst man killed girlfriend and her daughter with a hammer
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EAST ELMHURST — An unhinged man brutally bludgeoned his girlfriend — a doting grandmother  — and her daughter to death with a hammer because he thought they were voodoo-practicing "witches" who "were casting spells on me," sources said.

The beatings were so brutal that the rubber grip on the hammer came off in the process and neighbors described hearing "loud banging" for "a while," according to the sources.

Carlos Amarillo, 44, called 911 about 12:10 a.m. and when police arrived at the 87th Street home, they found him walking toward them clutching a bible, the sources said.

His live-in family, 56-year-old girlfriend Estrella Castaneda and her daughter, Lina Castaneda, 24, were found dead in their blood-covered bedrooms, sources said. Lina Castaneda's 7-year-old daughter was also home at the time, but found unharmed.

"I killed them. I killed them," he told the officers, sources said.

In the chilling 911 call, Amarillo, who has no criminal record, allegedly told the dispatcher that he "assassinated" the victims and that he wanted responding officers to kill him.

"I killed them because they are witches casting spells," he said, according to sources.

"I want the police to kill me. I killed them with a hammer," he continued. "Come see a man named Amarillo."

Stunned neighbors said they heard banging about midnight and peered out their windows as a fleet of police cars arrived at the scene a short time later, they said.

"We heard loud banging. It just sounded like someone was hitting the wall. They were banging for a while," said one neighbor.

Another neighbor, Jorge Carrion said his wife "heard banging on the wall, but didn't hear screaming."

Lina Castaneda's 7-year-old daughter, whose identity was not released, was found unharmed on the bed in her mother's room, sources said. Officers carried her out in their arms and brought her to her biological father, police said.

According to sources, the young girl did not witness the crime.

"The amount of rage had to be unbelievable," said neighbor Debbie Marrero. "At least he left the baby alone."

The bloodshed began when Amarillo covered his girlfriend's face with a pillow as she lay in bed, sources said.

He started hitting her head with the hammer so hard that the grip tore off, sources said.

The suspect then walked to the daughter's bedroom where he beat her across the head until she collapsed beside a pile of laundry, sources said.

After that, he called 911.

Queens District Attorney, Richard Brown, said Amarillo was charged with two counts of first degree murder as well as weapons possession. He faces life without parole if convicted.

"The defendant is accused of the violent beating death of his girlfriend and her daughter – who in fact was herself the mother of a young child," Brown said in a statement. "Thankfully, that child, a seven-year-old girl, was not harmed in the attacks."

Sources said that there had been no prior domestic violence incidents at the 87th Street home and neighbors said the family was "very quiet."

"It's a very quiet neighborhood," Marrero said. "For something to happen around here like this is scary."

Neighbors said Estrella loved her granddaughter and liked to tend to her garden. 

"We always talked to each other and gardened with each other. Very nice lady, hard worker. She didn't deserve to die like that," said a 62-year-old neighbor, Norma Jimenez.

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