Investigators arrested a 26-year-old man charged with the “gruesome” killing last month of a woman who was partially dismembered while still alive, the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office said.
Rafael Castillo faces a murder charge in the death of Nicole Perry, 31, on November 19, Sheriff Javier Salazar said on Wednesday.
“The suspect said he wanted to ‘make an example of her.’ That’s a direct quote,” Salazar said.
Castillo was arrested in Brownsville, where he fled after the murder. He was returned to San Antonio on Wednesday.
Work crews found Perry’s body, wrapped in a tarp with her hands cut off, along a rural San Antonio road. Evidence found with the body led investigators to a home on West Harlan Avenue where Perry and her fiance were reportedly staying, News4SA reported, citing the homeowner, who said the couple was homeless at the time.
Deputies raided the house, which Salazar said was gathering spot for partying and drug use, two days after Perry’s body was found, the San Antonio Express-News reported. They found evidence that Perry had been killed in a detached garage.
“It’s a gruesome attack,” the sheriff said. “I don’t even want to imagine what this woman went through.”
Salazar said detectives interviewed nine people connected to the residence, and those witnesses pointed to Castillo as the prime suspect.
According to witnesses, Castillo and Perry got into an argument. An affidavit says that Castillo “told her to shut up,” then tied her up. and used an ax or hatchet to cut off her hands while she was still alive. He finished by bludgeoning her to death with the weapon, telling a witness that he did because she “disrespected his name.”
Salazar said the attack took place in front of a “crowd” of people, including Perry’s fiance. According to an affidavit, several people helped load a “package” containing her body into an SUV and drove it to where it was dumped.
The sheriff said it was “not a one-man operation” and urged others involved to “turn themselves in and put themselves in the witness column as opposed to the defendant’s column.”
Detectives have not found Perry’s hands and say other parts of her body are missing as well.
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[Featured image: Bexas County Sheriff’s Office]