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Dad confessed to drowning children, police say

A man who had argued with his estranged wife over the custody of their three children has confessed to drowning them in a hotel bathtub on the night they were to go back with their mother, police said Monday.
Children Killed
Charles Ledford, a friend of Amy Castillo, tapes an envelope with statements to the press asking for privacy outside her home in Silver Spring, Md., on Monday. Her children were killed, and police say her ex-husband has confessed to the crimes.Jose Luis Magana / AP
/ Source: The Associated Press

A man charged with drowning his three children in a Baltimore hotel room over the weekend has a history of psychiatric problems and threatened to kill them more than a year ago, his former wife said in court documents.

Mark Castillo, 41, was charged Monday with first-degree murder, child abuse and child abuse resulting in death.

Police say he confessed to drowning the children — Anthony, 6; Austin, 4; and Athena, 2 — one by one Saturday in the bathtub of his room at a Marriott hotel. He was being held without bail.

Police charging documents said Castillo was motivated by his February divorce. Court records show he was fighting a pitched legal battle with his former wife, Amy Castillo, over the children.

Amy Castillo requested a protective order in Montgomery County District Court on Dec. 25, 2006, and asked that her husband receive psychiatric counseling.

In her petition, she said her husband had been found two months earlier to have mood disorder and narcissistic personality disorder. And she said he had threatened to kill himself that summer.

“He has never actually hurt (the children), but did tell me that the worst thing he could do to me would be to kill the children and not me so I could live without them,” she wrote in the petition.

Permanent protective order nixed
Amy Castillo was given a temporary protective order, but her request for a permanent order was rejected on Jan. 10, 2007, by Circuit Judge Joseph Dugan. In a form Dugan signed giving his ruling, a box was checked indicating “no clear or convincing evidence that the alleged acts of abuse occurred.”

It was not clear Monday whether Mark Castillo had a lawyer. He represented himself in most of his divorce proceedings.

Amy Castillo, a pediatrician with Kaiser Permanente, did not respond to an e-mail or phone message left at her Silver Spring home. Her attorney in the divorce also did not immediately return a phone call.

A family friend released a statement to reporters that read: “Amy Castillo asks for your continued prayers during this unspeakably difficult time. She is surrounded by family and friends and is coping as well as can be expected.”

According to charging documents, Mark Castillo told police he drowned the children about 6 p.m. Saturday, then stabbed himself in the neck several times with a steak knife.

'I know what I did was bad'
He also took about 100 Motrin pain reliever pills in an attempt to commit suicide but woke up Sunday at 1 p.m. He then called the hotel front desk to say he had killed his children.

Castillo told police his motive was “a recent divorce stemming from domestic issues with his wife,” charging documents state. “I know what I did was bad. I did it,” he allegedly told paramedics.

Castillo was supposed to return the children to their mother in Silver Spring at 8:30 p.m. Saturday.

Amy Castillo called Montgomery County police shortly after the deadline to say that her husband had not returned them, Baltimore Police Commissioner Frederick Bealefeld said.

Castillo was expected to appear Tuesday at a courtroom in Baltimore for a bail hearing.