Just two days before confessing to the murder of his ex-girlfriend, a Houston man allegedly made a last ditch effort to throw investigators off his trail by taping an interview with TV psychologist Dr. Phil.
For nearly a week, 37-year-old Mark Augustin Castellano allegedly pretended to assist family, friends and law enforcement in trying to track down his girlfriend Michelle Warner, claiming that the woman disappeared after storming out of their Houston apartment during an Sept. 22 argument. Castellano also traveled to his parents' West Texas home with the couple's 3-year-old son.
When Warner didn't surface, her family filed a report with police and mounted a high-profile search which caught the attention of Dr. Phil producers. Castellano filmed his bit for the show on Friday, giving very much the same story he gave police.
Castellano confessed to the murder on Sunday in a two-hour interview during which he revealed the location of Michelle's body.
Fil Waters, an investigator with the Houston Police Department, told the Associated Press that Castellano confessed to the murder on Sunday in a two-hour interview during which he revealed the location of Michelle's body. The Warner family received notice of the confession as they arrived in Los Angeles to tape their own interviews for the Dr. Phil show.
Castellano allegedly told the Houston police that during a Sept. 22 verbal dispute, he grabbed Warner by the throat with enough force to break her neck. Following the incident, he drove to his parents' house in Odessa with his son, who Castellano said had been inside the apartment during the argument but did not witness the killing.
Investigators were surprised when the suspect mentioned his recent interview for daytime television. "I thought he was kidding, but it was the real deal," Waters said. "[He] provides Dr. Phil, as I understand it, with the same information he's been providing everyone else."
The Dr. Phil website currently lists a "missing mom" case show that's scheduled to air on Thursday, but no further information is provided.
"I thought he was kidding, but it was the real deal. "[He] provides Dr. Phil, as I understand it, with the same information he's been providing everyone else."
Early Tuesday morning, Castellano was taken to a Harris County courtroom where details of his confession were read aloud, as detailed by KHOU Ch. 11.
“He was on video when he demonstrated how he killed her, and said he heard her neck snap,” read a court official. “He also said he put a plastic bag on her head and tied it off.”
After killing Warner, Castellano told investigators that he crammed the body in a closet before driving his son to Odessa to stay with family. Returning to Houston, he put the corpse in a large plastic container and hauled it back to Midland County, where it sat in the backseat of his car for several days as it sat outside his parent's house. Castellano told the police he eventually buried the body in an oil field between Midland and Odessa.
Castellano has been charged with murder and remains in a Harris County jail on a $150,000 bond. His son is staying with family members in Houston at the moment.