East Elmhurst man convicted in hammer-killing of women he believed to be witches

The DA announced an East Elmhurst man was convicted of killing his girlfriend and her daughter with a hammer in 2014.
By Mark Hallum

An East Elmhurst man has been convicted at trial of beating his former girlfriend and her daughter to death with a hammer in the belief the two were witches who had been casting voodoo spells on him, the Queens district attorney said.

Carlos Alberto Amarillo, 48, faces life in prison after the two-week-long trial concluded.

A third person in the residence at the time of the January 2014 killings was the 7-year-old granddaughter of the Amarillo’s girlfriend. She was left unharmed. He was, however, also convicted of endangering the welfare of a child, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said.

“Acting in a violent rage, the defendant fatally beat to death his girlfriend and her daughter – who was the mother of a young child who also happened to be in the residence that night,” Brown said. “Thankfully, the little girl, just 7 years old at the time, was not harmed during these deadly attacks. She will, however, be forever impacted by the absence of both her mother and grandmother in her life. At trial, the jury weighed all the evidence and found the defendant guilty of both homicides. The defendant now faces the prospect of spending the rest of his days locked behind bars.”

Amarillo, of 87th Street in East Elmhurst, was convicted of two counts of first-degree murder and criminal possession of a weapon in a week-long trial by jury and presided over by Supreme Court Justice Michael Aloise, who set the sentencing date for July 6, according to Brown.

Police responded to Amarillo’s residence at 12:10 a.m. on Jan. 29, 2014. Inside the residence, the DA described a gory scene in which the NYPD found Estrella Castaneda, 56, lying face up in bed. Over her face was a pillow with blood seeping through the linen and more blood spattered on the wall behind her, the DA said. Cops found the rubber grip of a hammer beside her on the bed.

Lina Castaneda, 25, was found on the floor of the rear bedroom. She was lying face-down with the hammer beside her on the floor.

Police found Castaneda’s daughter unharmed in her mother’s bedroom, according to the DA.

Amarillo himself called the police after the killings took place, according to the DA, telling dispatch “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.”

Amarillo was found with a Bible in his hands walking through the door of the home as police approached. Further statements by Amarillo to police showed he believed he had become sick because they were “witches and were performing voodoo and casting spells,” the DA said.

Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhallum@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4564.

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