The Unspeakable Castillo Murders: All’s Not Well That Ends Not as Badly as It Could Have
–Richard E. Vatz
Amy Castillo makes a fair argument when she says that she must forgive her ex-spouse for his horrible murdering in a Baltimore hotel bathtub of their 3 children, Athena, 2, Austin, 4 and Anthony, 6. She says that otherwise the “bitterness” and “resentment” would consume her life. That is the only argument for forgiveness and one that could convincingly be made only by a mother of the victims in this drama. But Mrs. Castillo’s personal forgiving need not affect the other citizens of Maryland.
Mark Castillo, Amy’s ex-husband, demonstrated indisputably the premeditation of his crimes when he described his meticulous murderous behavior beginning with his booking a hotel room in Baltimore via the Internet to facilitate the killings. There he held his struggling, terrified children under water for 10 minutes to guarantee their dying. Furthermore, respecting his uncomplicated, evil, knowing intent, Castillo in a tape-recorded confession detailed his careful planning of the crimes and, according to The Washington Post, “said he thought about the killings for months and that before he killed the children, he spent at least 24 hours planning how to do it…”
Castillo’s motive was not unusual: the Post references his apprising authorities of his desire to make his wife suffer and telling her before the murders that losing her children was the most effective way to create misery for the woman with whom he had had a 21-month custody battle.
It is not clear why the death penalty was not sought, as this case is preeminently qualified for such a punishment.
In January of this year, Castillo filed an insanity plea which followed an initial such filing and a public request by the murderer to plead guilty and be executed.
Judges, notoriously credulous concerning psychiatric explanation and exculpation of horrible murderers, especially if committed by unconventionally acting killers – Castillo read passages from the Bible in court and tried to commit suicide, behaviors that seem “crazy” to some judges — almost invariably have a soft spot for such vile cretins.
In this case Baltimore City Circuit Court Judge Wanda K. Heard, who wisely said she was convinced Castillo knew what he was doing when he committed the killings, not so wisely recommended that Castillo serve his 3 consecutive life terms at Patuxent Institution, a mental health correction institution in Jessup, Maryland.
Insanity verdicts are too plentiful, even if relatively uncommon. There are limits to the educating of judges who cannot believe that there are simply evil people in the world.
Professor Vatz has written on psychiatric rhetoric for over 30 years