Suspect charged in 2003 Lubbock cold case

Cynthia Palacio
Investigators have charged a man with a murder from 17 years ago. Andy Castillo, 57, is accused of killing Cynthia Palacio in 2003.

Palacio’s body was found in a ditch along County Road 7800, west of Slaton. The 21-year-old had been strangled.

In the arrest warrant released Friday morning, investigators say during the autopsy, a dried substance was found on the victim's thigh and was swabbed for evidence. Palacio's fingernails were also scraped and detectives say there was a necklace and blouse at the scene that was kept as evidence. DPS collected DNA evidence from the swab, fingernails and clothing.

Investigators with the Lubbock County Sheriff’s Office discussed the new developments in the case Friday.

"All of this evidence was taken, it was processed, and we immediately had at least some DNA connection at that point with regard to a potential suspect," Lubbock County Sheriff Kelly Rowe said.

In January of this year, Castillo was arrested for unrelated felony charges. Lubbock police got written permission to take his DNA sample. That DNA was later found to be a match for that which was found at the Palacio murder scene. Castillo, who remains jailed, is now charged with the murder with a bond set at half a million dollars. If convicted, he faces up to life in prison with the possibility for parole.

Sheriff Rowe said he cannot uncerscore enough what this moment means for everyone who was involved in the case throughout the years.

"Not only for the family is it important that we're able to finally bring to Cynthia's parents and sister some closure on this case that we have finally identified the individual responsible for her death, but also for these individuals, like I said, that spent many, many selfless hours, sleepless nights working on this case," he said.

Another woman’s body was discovered in north Lubbock County in 2004, Linda Trevino Carbajal. Sources at the time said she and Palacio were roommates at some point. In 2004, investigators said there wasn’t an official connection between these two women or that of Amanda Gschwend, who was found in 1999 murdered just inside the city limits on Municipal Drive. However, on Friday, DPS reported the investigation into Palacio's death was linked to Carbajal's case. It remains under investigation.