McLennan County investigation defrosts cold case in Lubbock

Published: Sep. 4, 2020 at 5:00 AM CDT|Updated: Sep. 4, 2020 at 10:31 AM CDT
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) - A 17-year-old cold case murder out of northwest Texas has been solved, authorities say, following an investigation into the harassment of local realtors by the McLennan County Sheriff’s Office.

“Our guys are working every day to capture creeps like this,” said Sheriff Parnell McNamara. ”A lot of women have been victimized by this creep.”

Authorities say one of those women was Cynthia Palacio.

“There’s no question in our mind that he committed this murder,” said McNamara.

In July of 2003, Lubbock County was shaken by Palacio’s murder.

The 21-year-old mother was found half-nude on the side of a Lubbock County road strangled to death.

17 years later, the Texas Rangers have matched the semen found on her thigh, along with other DNA evidence obtained from her fingernails, blouse and necklace to an inmate in the McLennan County Jail.

“It’s rewarding when we know that we have gotten a much bigger fish than we thought we had,” said McNamara.

McNamara is referring to Andy Castillo, an inmate in his jail who up until Thursday was facing far less serious charges than murder.

In January, Castillo was arrested by Lubbock PD in connection with the harassment of some Waco-area real estate agents who said they were getting lewd messages from someone threatening to rape their children.

MCSO’s human trafficking team used technology and intel to track down Castillo in Lubbock.

“There were a lot of ladies that were very, very scared because of what this individual was doing and putting out there to them,” said McNamara. “During that investigation, they discovered that many, many realtors, possibly as many as 100 in maybe 20 different cities and 10 different states, had been harassed by this guy.”

Police in Lubbock took a DNA sample from Castillo before he was transported to Waco where he was charged with one count of stalking and two counts of criminal solicitation-aggravated sexual assault of a child.

With the murder charge now added, Castillo remains jailed on bonds totaling more than $1.5 million.

“This is a very serious charge, and this escalates to a much higher plane,” said McNamara.

Investigators say this is proof of how sex crimes can accelerate.

“We worked hard on holding this monster accountable because of the horrible threats he was making to women and children in Waco,” said Detective Joseph Scaramucci. “This arrest confirms, Castillo wasn’t just some internet troll trying to exploit women and children--he’s a murderer.”

McNamara says he’s proud of his human trafficking team as well as Lubbock PD, the Lubbock County Sheriff’s Office, DPS and the Texas Rangers for working together to serve justice.

The Sheriff says, at some point, Castillo will be transported back to Lubbock to stand trial.

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