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Man Convicted of Murdering Girlfriend and Daughter He Feared Were 'Witches'

By Katie Honan | June 8, 2017 12:30pm
 Carlos Amarillo, 44, told police that he killed his girlfriend and her daughter with a hammer because the two were casting voodoo spells on him, prosecutors say.
Carlos Amarillo, 44, told police that he killed his girlfriend and her daughter with a hammer because the two were casting voodoo spells on him, prosecutors say.
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DNAinfo/Jesse Ward

​EAST ELMHURST — A man accused of beating his girlfriend and her daughter to death with a hammer because he thought they were witches was convicted in their brutal murders, according to the district attorney's office.

Carlos Amarillo, 48, was convicted Wednesday of murder, criminal possession of a weapon and endangering the welfare of a child after a nearly two-week trial for the brutal Jan. 28, 2014 attack on his girlfriend Estrella Castaneda, 56, and her daughter Lina Castaneda, 25.

Amarillo lived with the pair and Lina Castaneda's then-7-year-old daughter in an apartment on 87th Street in East Elmhurst. 

He told police he thought Estrella and Lina were witches who were "performing voodoo and casting spells" that made him sick — so he flew into a rage, beating them with a hammer so hard the tool's rubber grip fell off, prosecutors said.

Both women were found facedown on their beds with blood splattered on the sheets and walls, police said. Amarillo called 911 just after midnight on Jan. 29, saying the two women were "assassinated," prosecutors said.

"I killed them because they are witches, I want the police to kill me. I killed them with a hammer," he said.

When police arrived, he was holding a Bible as he walked out of the home, later telling police the women were "witches."

The 7-year-old girl was home at the time but was unharmed in the attack, police said. 

Neighbors at the time said they heard repeated banging from inside the attached home, but didn't hear screams — and the brutal killings left neighbors on the quiet block wishing they knew how to help. 

"I feel bad," neighbor Christian Carrion said in 2014. "I would have broken down the door if I heard her scream."

District Attorney Richard Brown said the young girl will "be forever impacted by the absence of both her mother and grandmother in her life."

Amarillo's lawyer did not respond to a request for comment. He faces up to life in prison at his sentencing on July 6.