Braulio M. Castillo
An Ashburn man has been arrested and charged for murder in the death of his estranged wife.
The Loudoun County Sheriff's Office arrested Braulio M. Castillo, 43, and charged him with first-degree murder in connection with his wife's death. Preliminary reports indicate Michelle Castillo, 43, was involved in a physical altercation before being hung from a basement shower to give the appearance of suicide.
At this time, police aren't releasing an official cause or time of death, though medical reports have already ruled that she was dead prior to the hanging.
“We got enough from the medical examiner's office to levy charges, but we can't say an official time of death until the final medical report,” Loudoun County Sheriff Mike Chapman explained.
Police found her body March 20 after her children woke up and couldn't find their mother. The kids called their father, who was under a protective order.
Michelle Castillo had filed for divorce a year prior.
Because he was under a protective order, Braulio Castillo went to a neighbor's home, and the two of them surveyed the home, with Braulio Castillo checking the downstairs and the neighbor checking upstairs. Castillo then took the children.
“After he left, the neighbor was still uncomfortable with the situation and called us to conduct a welfare check,” Chapman explained.
Police responded to the home at around 9 a.m., where they found Michelle Castillo's body.
A neighbor's surveillance camera placed Braulio Castillo at the scene of the crime the afternoon of March 19, just hours after the couple had been scheduled for a divorce hearing earlier that afternoon in the Loudoun County Circuit Court.
Braulio Castillo worked as a CEO for Strong Castle, a small IT company that came under scrutiny last year after accusations that Braulio used his friendship with an IRS official to get millions in federal contracts. He gained further notoriety in 2013, when he was chastised in Congress
for using a foot injury from a military prep school to get Strong Castle designated a "service-disabled veteran-owned small business," helping grant his company preferential treatment for contracts.
Friends describe Michelle Castillo fondly.
“She was the most Christian woman I have ever met,” said Patti Hidalgo, who had known Michelle for eight years. “She is someone you wanted to be friends with. She was always smiling … You were just drawn to her for how open and loving she was.”
After suffering a brain aneurysm several years ago, Michelle Castillo had begun becoming more physically active and had completed her first half marathon days before her death. She was training for a triathlon.
Hidalgo said Michelle Castillo most adored her five children, ranging in age from five to 20, and loved being a mother. The four younger siblings are currently staying with a family friend.
“She was just a good neighbor, a good mother, a good friend and a good member of the community,” Hidalgo said.
Hidalgo had exchanged Facebook messages with Michelle Castillo about three weeks before her death but said Castillo didn't seem worried about her safety. For her part, Hidalgo is equally shocked at the incident.
“I didn't know him well,” Hidalgo said. “But he was friendly, and we would talk when I saw him.”
Braulio Castillo is currently being held at the Loudoun County Adult Detention Center on no bond. A preliminary hearing in the Juvenile and Domestic Relations court is scheduled for May 15.