Captured After 17 Years on the Run - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

1/28/04

Captured After 17 Years on the Run

"Mr. Villegas, did you murder Ms. Castillo?" The man in handcuffs did not respond.

His hands and feet chained, Mariano Villegas arrived for an appointment with justice 17 years late. "You have the right to remain silent," said Judge Bob Blackburn. Arraigned in the Lubbock County Court House, Villegas reached for an inhaler, medicating himself as the district attorney read the fate of his alleged victim, Lucy Castillo.

"And by stabbing and cutting the said Lucy Castillo," said District Attorney Bill Sowder. "Did you stab her 57 times?," a reporter asked him. Villegas did not respond.

"It was a gruesome crime scene," said LPD Assistant Chief Thomas Esparza, recounting how Villegas slipped through the fingers of the law back in 1987. "There were some fingerprints at the scene and they were matched to him, but by the time that was done, he had already left," he said.

While on the run in Mexico, it's believed, at one point, Villegas actually held a job in law enforcement. "Early on in the investigation we received information that he had gotten some kind of job as either a municipal police officer or municipal guard in some small community in Mexico near Mexico City," said Esparza.

"The charge against you is capital murder, do you understand that?," asked Judge Blackburn. Villegas responded affirmatively.

Almost 17 years ago, Lucy Castillo was murdered. Wednesday, the man who allegedly did it, who turned justice upside down, evading it, even using it as a disguise, was humbled by it's determination. "Did you think this day would come?," a reporter asked Esparza. "No, I had a lot of concerns that it would never get here, but, it's here," he said.

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