PARK TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) – Two people already charged with lying to police about the death of a Park Township man –- including the man’s ex-girlfriend –- now face murder charges in the case.
The Ottawa County prosecutor authorized warrants for open murder and conspiracy to commit murder for Maryann Castorena, 40, and the man police call her acquaintance, 19-year-old Anthony DeLaGarza, in the January murder of Jose Hernandez, 38.
Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office Capt. Mark Bennett told 24 Hour News 8 that investigators believe part of the motive in the murder was Hernandez’ $1.25 million life insurance policy. Castorena, Hernandez’s ex-girlfriend, was the beneficiary.
Hernandez’ body was found Jan. 6 in the snow near his running car outside of his Park Township apartment. His body could have been there for more than 24 hours, police said.
An autopsy showed he died of blunt force trauma to the head. He could have suffered at least five blows to the head.
Court documents show a handwritten note in Castorena’s bedroom discussed the murder. It allegedly mentions committing the murder “by his car” and doing it “so he doesn’t cancel policy past this month.”
Authorities say they also found Hernandez’s blood in Castorena’s car.
During an interview with police, the court documents say, Castorena told investigators she could get a confession from the killer, who she named as DeLaGarza.
Castorena was arrested Wednesday morning while out on bond and on a GPS tether on her initial charge in the case, lying to a peace officer. She was taken to the Ottawa County Jail and arraigned Wednesday on the murder charge.
DeLaGarza was already in jail on the same initial charge as Castorena when the warrants were issued. He was arraigned Wednesday afternoon in Holland District Court.
The court documents also say that in March 2013, Hernandez’s car was firebombed. That case went unsolved at the time, but police now say they have a witness who says Castorena hired DeLaGarza for the job.
Hernandez was paid about $40,000 by his insurance company for the car. It’s not yet clear whether Hernandez could have been in on that plot.
Castorena was arrested three days after Hernandez’ body was found, but has maintained her innocence in the case. DeLaGarza, who Bennett said lived with Hernandez at one point, was arrested days after Castorena.
Authorities say the suspects met through Castorena’s son, who had been roommates with Hernandez.