ALAMOSA — A retired schoolteacher living in rural Alamosa for the past 10 years has been charged with a double homicide occurring in California — 23 years ago.
Lamberto Ricci Castillo, 64, who resides with his wife on East Highway 160, Alamosa, appeared in a California court on Monday to face two felony counts of murder in connection with the March 31, 1994, shooting deaths of Kenny Paul Sommers and his friend Chen ‘Cosmo’ Maui Blanchard, both 23.
Local authorities coordinated with the Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and California authorities on April 27 to arrest Castillo who waived extradition and was transported to the southern California city of Huntington Beach in Orange County.
“For the past 23 years Lamberto Ricci Castillo has been living free in Colorado,” Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackaukas said in a press conference on Monday. “He might have been looking over his shoulder from time to time, but for the most part, he probably thought that he got away with it, but that’s all changed now.”
Castillo, who was a schoolteacher in California at the time, is alleged to have confronted the two victims on the evening of March 31, 1994, as they were urinating near Main Street and Orange Avenue a few blocks from the pier in the seaside city of Huntington Beach. An off-duty police officer witnessed the confrontation in downtown Huntington Beach but not the shooting, which occurred later that night, according to information released by the Orange County DA’s office.
Castillo allegedly went home and returned with a handgun at about 10:15 p.m. when he shot Sommers and Blanchard multiple times before leaving the scene, according to the district attorney’s office. Huntington Beach Police Department officers responded to multiple calls concerning shots fired in the area of Main Street and Orange Avenue and discovered Sommers and Blanchard lying on the ground. Both victims were pronounced dead at the scene.
The case had gone cold until about a year ago when newly developed evidence led authorities to Castillo, according to the Orange County DA’s office.
Alamosa County Sheriff Robert Jackson said with his office’s permission the CBI coordinated with the city SWAT team to arrest Castillo who was held in the Alamosa County jail for four or five days before being transported to California to face the murder charges.
Sheriff Jackson and Alamosa City Police Chief Duane Oakes said the arrest was made without incident.
“He was taken into custody without incident … went very easily,” Oakes said.
Chief Oakes said the arrest was an agency assist occurring after Huntington Beach police came into town to investigate the cold case, determined where Castillo lived and obtained an arrest warrant.
Sheriff Jackson said he did not know Castillo but had met his wife when he was campaigning for sheriff and she offered to place one of his campaign signs in their yard on East Highway 160.
He said Castillo had some medical issues while in custody at the local jail but otherwise caused no problems and waived extradition to go back to California to face charges.
“They lived here 10 years,” Sheriff Jackson said. “Everybody was shocked.”
Castillo is facing a special circumstance allegation of multiple murders, which could result in life in prison if he is convicted.
He is being held without bail in the Orange County Jail in Santa Ana, California.
He made his first appearance in the Orange County Superior Court on Monday, May 15, but did not enter a plea, and his arraignment was rescheduled to June 2.