Estrella Castaneda, 56, and Lina Castaneda, 25, were found with their heads bashed in at their home on 87th St. in East Elmhurst about 12:15 a.m., officials said.
Police arrested him at the scene and later charged him with murder and criminal possession of a weapon – the weapon being a hammer that he used to bash their skulls in with.
He told them he believed they were witches who had used their powers against him.
Shortly after the horrific murders, he called 911 and said, “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,”, according to Queens DA Richard Brown’s statement.
When the police arrived, Amarillo was walking away from the house with a Bible in his hand, saying, “I killed them, I killed them.”
According to neighbors, both of the victims had boyfriends, and that the perpetrator worked in construction.
A neighbor who lives two doors down from them, Camilo Alvarez, heard loud hammering in the middle of the night.
“He was swinging the hammer hard,” Alvarez said. “It sounded like someone nailing in a nail … It was a good minute, two minutes…”
“I stayed up all night. I couldn’t sleep. I just kept thinking about it,” he said.
Compounding the gruesomeness of the crime was the fact that the younger victim’s 4-year-old daughter was also in the home at the time, and may have witnessed the attack. Another neighbor, Steve Perez, said he saw her being taken out of the home by the police:
“She was wrapped up in a big coat,” Perez said. “She looked scared. She was all hugged up with her arms and legs around the cop.”
According to the police, the girl will be returned to her father. They haven’t said if she witnessed the murders or not.
To some neighbors, this comes as a complete surprise: Perez described the family as “quiet”, and that they were always doing things together.
“I’d always see them walking down the street to do laundry or to go to school,” he said. “They looked like they didn’t have a care in the world.”
And according to another neighbor, Deborah Pawluck, everyone in the close-knit community knows the family.
“They were a happy family,” she said.
According to Pawluck, Estrella Castaneda is a widow whose husband died about 2 years ago, and that all three generations of women were together all the time.
“The mom would take her to the bus stop. The baby was always laughing. … They were happy until last night,” Pawluck said.
“I’m just thinking, ‘How this little girl is going to process this in her head. How is she going to get over seeing this?’”