Residents of a quiet Canyon Country neighborhood were mystified after a well-liked gardener was found dead Thursday morning. Raymond Castro, 43, was reported missing late Wednesday when his family arrived at their Evron Avenue home to find blood on the driveway and in various rooms of the house, and Castro and his pickup truck missing, according to a statement from Sheriff’s homicide detectives. Shortly after 9:30 a.m. Thursday, a motorist on Sierra Highway noticed a white Chevy pickup truck matching the description of Castro’s vehicle parked on the shoulder under the Highway 14 overpass, Deputy Jeffrey Jackson said. The driver flagged down a passing sheriff’s deputy who inspected the truck and found a male corpse in the truck bed, clad only in underwear. Sheriff’s officials declined to say early Thursday whether the body was male or female. Shortly before 5 p.m., they said the body had been positively identified as that of Castro. “We are pursuing it as a homicide,” said Deputy Ramiro Juarez, declining to comment on the condition of the body. Investigators with the Los Angeles County coroner’s office took possession of the body, Juarez said, and transported it to their facilities in downtown Los Angeles. At 6 p.m., Juarez said he was not aware of any suspects. As of 8 p.m., no information was available on the cause of death or the identity of any suspects.
Castro’s wife and several children remained at the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station for questioning throughout the day. Meanwhile, crime scene investigators from the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau were at the Castro home through the day and were expected to remain there through the night. The 27500 block of Evron Avenue remained closed to reporters until shortly after 6 p.m., although sheriff’s deputies had allowed residents to go to and from their homes throughout the day. Leslie Quintero, who was divorced from Castro in 1986, said her ex-husband was in the midst of a “very difficult” divorce from his current wife. “It’s a very unhappy marriage,” Quintero told reporters Thursday morning. She said she and Castro had maintained a cordial relationship. His landscaping business had been doing well, she said, adding, “that man’s got a lot of money.” Visibly distraught, Quintero said, “this is really hard to take.” Nearby residents painted a picture of a man who had done work on their gardens and was well liked. Roger Wagner said he knew Castro for about 15 years. “He was a good guy, a nice guy,” Wagner said.
This story can be found in today’s Signal Newspaper.