NY Man Kills ‘Witches’ With Hammer

Here’s your daily dose of irrational religion-based barbarism. A New York City man has admitted to police that he killed his girlfriend and her daughter because they were “witches” who were casting evil spells on him. Because they’re the ones being demonic, not him.

The suspect, Carlos Amarillo, 44, has been charged with two counts of first-degree murder.

The Queens district attorney’s office said that when police officers arrived at the house at 24-10 87th Street in East Elmhurst around 12:15 a.m., they found the victims, identified as Estrella Castaneda, 56, and her daughter, Lina Castaneda, 25, in their bedrooms. The younger woman’s 7-year-old daughter was found unharmed on the bed in her mother’s room.

The women had severe head trauma and were pronounced dead at the scene, the police said.

The district attorney, Richard A. Brown, said Mr. Amarillo told a 911 operator: “Two females are dead, they were assassinated, hurry they are dead. I killed them because they are witches. I want the police to kill me. I killed them with a hammer.”

Prosecutors said Mr. Amarillo, who was in a relationship with Estrella Castaneda, was seen walking to the street, clutching a Bible and saying: “I killed them. I killed them.”

An official familiar with the case said detectives were investigating whether drugs might have been involved. In statements to the police, Mr. Amarillo said he believed both victims had been “performing voodoo and casting spells” on him.

If only they’d called Bob Larson and had a Skype exorcism sooner…

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  • Alverant

    No True Christian outcry in 3..2..1..

  • lofgren

    No True Christian outcry in 3..2..1..

    Regardless of his religion, this sounds more like mental illness than anything else. While religion doesn’t do of mental illness sufferers any favors, it’s not really fair to blame it for acts committed under the influence of medically diagnosed delusions.

  • raven

    The usual. For any xians who lost their laminated all purpose excuse card, handed out in church:

    1. It was a false flag operation.

    2. Atheists do it too.

    3. You can’t prove that he was a xian.

    4. He wasn’t a True Xian.

    You don’t have to pick and choose. Just use them all.

  • Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden


    We know religion played a large role.

    We don’t know what role, if any, mental illness played.

    While as a general point I agree that blaming religion for the work of mental illness is wrong, you’re statement is irrelevant and unhelpful here. It functions only as an excuse for religious believers. Why does it sound delusional to believe someone is practicing voodoo and why does it sound delusional that someone would kill according to the instructions in a holy book? Was mental illness more widespread during the rampant witch burnings from 1400-1750? Was mental illness more widespread during the mass torture of Jews under Torquemada?

    If evidence of mental illness comes up, I’ll take it into account. Torturing and killing in the name of god is not evidence of mental illness.

  • colnago80

    Re Alverant @ #1

    Prof. Heddle has that one patented.

  • Sastra

    Crip Dyke #4 wrote:

    If evidence of mental illness comes up, I’ll take it into account. Torturing and killing in the name of god is not evidence of mental illness.

    I agree. The first question which occurs to me in cases like this is “what does the peer group believe?”

    My guess is that someone in a common mainstream denomination who hears voices and kills a witch is more likely to be mentally ill than someone who is deeply involved in a religious group which believes in constant messages from God, witches, spiritual warfare and the heroes in their midst who kill witches.

    I am reminded of a story I read which was told by a psychologist who went to Africa. Local people brought him a woman who they thought was crazy: she was hearing voices. “But you all hear voices,” he protested, considering the fact that the locals did indeed believe in a religion where they frequently heard the voices of ancestors, or gods, or spirits. “Yes,” they replied. “But she hears them at the wrong times.”

  • greg1466

    Regardless of what drug screenings show, it seems obvious drugs were involved as he was seen clutching a bible.

  • grumpyoldfart

    I don’t believe him. He probably killed them in a fit of temper and now he’s using the witch story to help prepare for an insanity plea (and an easier sentence with a good chance of parole).

  • DaveL

    Regardless of his religion, this sounds more like mental illness than anything else.

    Of course it was mental illness. And now that he’s killed two people, we get to call it that.

  • While religion doesn’t do of mental illness sufferers any favors, it’s not really fair to blame it for acts committed under the influence of medically diagnosed delusions.

    When religion says “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live,” and a person, mentally ill or not, kills someone they deem to be a witch….you bet your ass I’ll blame religion.

  • @ 2

    Unfortunately, religion provides a fertile ground for mental illness. More importantly, it provides cover. Very sick people can appear “normal” much longer if their illness manifests itself through religion. Claiming to see little green men is cause for concern; claiming to see angels is cause for celebration. Claiming that the government is beaming messages into your head is delusional; claiming that god speaks to you is holy.

  • jnorris

    John 13:35

    “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

    New American Standard Bible (NASB)

  • He claimed they were “demonic”, which means he believes in religion.

    No doubt the religious will now claim that he isn’t one of them.

  • StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return!

    hurry they are dead.

    Well, in that case hurrying wouldn’t help much would it?

    Sad story, not sure and not enough evidence for me to say how much to blame mental illness, religion or just the murderer in question here.

  • StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return!

    @13. left0ver1under : “He claimed they were “demonic”, which means he believes in religion.”

    It means he believes in demons – not necessarily religion. Seems the murderer believes in voodoo and witchcraft which I suppose are a variety of religious or supernatural beliefs and, you have to grudgingly admit, not central to Christianity as such.

  • When a delusional person says the FBI is after her, it isn’t about the government or the FBI.. When a delusional patient thinks Vanna White is talking to him through the television in a day room, it isn’t about game shows. When a delusional person kills a dog because it’s under the control of extraterrestrials, it isn’t about alien life forms.

    If this man is suffering from a paranoid psychosis, these killings are no more about religion than they’re about Halloween, The Wizard of Oz.or Samantha Stevens. If witches and demons could be erased from collective imagination, something else would fill in the missing blank for the delusional person. Maybe poison put in his food by the victims, in which case it isn’t really about arsenic.

  • leonardschneider

    @ Crip Dyke, #4:

    You are correct about the Spanish Inquisition and Torquemada, or various witch hunts. Just like the Nazi war atrocities or the Rape of Nanking, these were acts directed by (or at least encouraged by) governing bodies. And during the Inquisition, the Roman Catholic Church may not have been a governmental body per se… But it may as well have been. Governments are, in any form, concepts, and a concept cannot suffer mental illness.

    So far as the matter at hand: Pfoo. I really don’t know. I mean, yeah, the obvious initial impulse is to say, “So he killed his girlfriend and her daughter with a hammer because he thought they were fuckin’ witches? The guy’s’ a goddamn nut, he’s nuttier that a Stuckey’s Bar.” That’s the gut instinct reaction, for me at least.

    So here’s where it gets more complex. Did Amarillo truly believe his girlfriend was a witch, and if so, were his religious teachings so ingrained that he saw no option except murder… Which leads to, what were his religious teachings? Certainly nothing I’m familiar with. (But I’m a Deist Episcopal who was raised Unitarian, so I’m mostly just familiar with the friendlier, more upbeat aspects of faith. Hell, I hang out here, so you can guess how seriously I take my own faith.) Did Amarillo pre-plan his attack, and did he consult with the clergy of whatever weird-ass church he attends, a church that says, “Yep, witches exist, they’re totally and literally real, and you gotta kill ’em.” (And does that make them culpable; would my hypothetical clergyman be considered an accomplice?)

    Torturing and killing in the name of God is certainly not symptomatic of mental illness; again, all you have to do is look back at Torquemada and his zany crew of accomplices…. Or the actions of Al Queda, or what the Mormons went through in their early days. These people weren’t loonies, they believed in their hearts they were fulfilling the will of God… And that’s not crazy, that’s blind unswerving obsessive religious faith. (And what a lovely thing that faith is. *eyeroll*)

    However… Mental illness in conjunction with religious faith, especially a rigid and strict faith, is a whole different kettle of piranha. I’ve met enough street crazies who, if they didn’t believe they could talk to Jesus, believed they were Jesus.

    Mental illness is probably the least-understood aspect of human medicine. Even many medications are a mystery: no one understands how, or why, they work. Linking mental illness with religious faith can’t be done. However! My personal opinion is that religious faith can act as— well, like a trigger for someone who is mentally ill, especially for those who are undiagnosed. Schizoid tendencies, which can show up at any age, would be written off as by the devout as “signs from God.” The more severe the schizoid events, the more likely the devout will probably accept the “signs,” and be willing to act upon them… Regardless of the “instructions,” and the consequences of following through on them.

    Other than his possession of a Bible, Amarillo doesn’t seem to claiming, “God told me to.” His actions could very well be those of a perfectly “sane” man: really, that’s up to the courts and the psychiatrists to decide.

    For me, it doesn’t matter whether either the medical or legal systems declare him sane or insane. I say he may or may not be insane, but he’s still a fuckin’ nut-case; he murdered two people for no rational reason. He accused them of being witches. Shit, for all it matters he may as well have blamed leprechauns.