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D.A.: Man killed 2 women with a hammer, believed they were "witches"

By Chris Boyette, CNN
updated 3:07 PM EST, Thu January 30, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Carlos Alberto Amarillo, 44, allegedly killed two women he said were "witches"
  • A 7-year-old girl, daughter of one of the victims, in the home was not harmed
  • Amarillo was arraigned on murder charges and ordered to undergo a psychiatric evaluation

(CNN) -- A New York man was ordered to undergo a psychiatric evaluation after allegedly beating his girlfriend and her daughter to death with a hammer, claiming they were witches, prosecutors said Thursday.

Carlos Alberto Amarillo, 44, allegedly called 911 early Wednesday and said "two females are dead, they were assassinated, hurry, they are dead," the Queens district attorney's office said in a statement.

"I killed them because they are witches," Amarillo reportedly said on the 911 call, according to the statement. "I want the police to kill me. I killed them with a hammer."

A neighbor told CNN he heard the banging, apparently from the hammer blows, but no screaming.

When police arrived at the home where the 911 call was made, Amarillo was walking from the doorway to the street carrying a Bible. He allegedly told officers: "I killed them, I killed them," according to the statement.

Police found the body of his girlfriend, Estrella Castaneda, 56, face up on a bed with a pillow over her face, the statement said. The rubber grip of a hammer was next to her body.

On the floor in a rear bedroom, police found the victim's daughter, Lina Castaneda, 25, with injuries to her head, prosecutors said. The hammer was next to her body.

Lina Castaneda's 7-year-old daughter was found unharmed on the bed in her mother's room, authorities said.

"The defendant is accused of the violent beating death of his girlfriend and her daughter -- who in fact was herself the mother of a young child," Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown said in the statement. "Thankfully, that child ... was not harmed."

In statements to police, Amarillo allegedly said that he believed the victims were witches and were "performing voodoo and casting spells on him," Brown said in the statement.

Camilo Alvarez, 23, who lives two houses down, said that about midnight Wednesday he heard a loud banging sound. He thought it might be his mother moving things around upstairs. Then, police officers arrived in front of his neighbor's house.

"As awful as it sounds, I think that was the hammering," Alvarez said. "Nobody heard screaming -- that's the weird part -- so nobody called the police."

Still, Alvarez wondered if a call to police at that point could have made a difference.

"It was mind-blowing," he said. "You never expect that right next door. They seemed like normal people; it just makes no sense."

Amarillo was arraigned Wednesday night on two counts of first-degree murder, two counts of second-degree murder and one count of fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon. If convicted, he could face life without parole.

His attorney, Anthony Battisti, declined to comment on Thursday.

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