The family of a murdered California mother says developments in the case have reopened painful wounds since the woman’s death last year, KOVR-TV reports.
Authorities this week revealed that 29-year-old Victor Serriteno, who is accused of murdering 32-year-old Priscilla Castro in August, started a fire to cover up the killing.
That fire eventually became part of a massive wildfire that killed others and damaged hundreds of thousands of acres.
Castro’s sister, Jasmine Castro, told KOVR-TV that Priscilla was kind, beautiful, and strong.
“Loving, my sister would give you the shirt off her back. She would do anything for anybody,” Jasmine Castro told KOVR-TV. “I knew there were ugly people in the world, but I never knew they would do something to someone so close to us.”
Investigators say Castro went on a date with Serriteno on August 16, 2020, in Vacaville, California, which is between San Francisco and Sacramento. Unable to reach her, Castro’s family reported her missing two days later on Aug. 18, the same day the Markley Fire erupted.
Police found Castro’s vehicle abandoned on August 18 in Vacaville.
Authorities determined that the fire started within a “matter of feet, yards” to where Castro’s burned body was located in the Stebbins-Cold Canyon area about a month after she vanished, ABC News reports.
The cause of death and a motive have not been released publicly.
Lisa Phelps Nunez, Castro’s mother, told KOVR-TV that Priscilla had a beautiful smile and dreamed of owning a hair salon. At the time of her death, Castro had a 9-year-old daughter.
“You pull anything out of your mind to hope to see her again, that it didn’t really happen,” Nunez told the television station. “She left us with her beautiful daughter and her smile has left an imprint on our heart, something we will hold dear. We will never forget.”
Police arrested Serriteno in September and he has been detained since. On Wednesday, authorities added additional charges of arson and murder in connection with the fires.” Serriteno deliberately set the Markley Fire in an attempt to conceal his crime,” the Solano County Sheriff’s Office said in a written statement, according to the Associated Press.
The Markley Fire later merged with another fire and then a larger cluster of wildfires that spanned five counties in northern California.
At least six people were killed and five others were injured because of the fires.
“The fire had devastating impacts on so many people in our community,” Solano County District Attorney Krishna Abrams said Wednesday at a press conference, according to ABC News.
A preliminary hearing is scheduled for May 17.
Felicia Carrington, Serriteno’s lawyer, told ABC News that her client is presumed innocent.
“These are solely allegations,” Carrington told the news organization. “Mr. Serriteno is presumed innocent and we look forward to vigorously litigating these allegations.”
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[Feature Photo: Priscilla Castro/Handout]