Sheriff: 3 dead in apparent double homicide-suicide

The 2000 block of 38th Avenue West was blocked off for a crime scene involving three dead Monday afternoon. Hannah Morse/Bradenton Herald

The 2000 block of 38th Avenue West was blocked off for a crime scene involving three dead Monday afternoon.
Hannah Morse/Bradenton Herald

(This story originally appeared in the Bradenton Herald)

MANATEE — The Manatee County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the deaths of three people, including one preteen, at a Bradenton house, as a double homicide-suicide.

At about 2:05 p.m. Monday, Manatee County Sheriff Brad Steube said a 911 call came in from an anonymous male saying that there was a man and a woman dead in the front yard of a home in the 2000 block of 38th Avenue West.

“When the patrol deputies arrived on scene, there was no one in the front yard but the front door to the residence was opened and they entered, where they did in fact find three individuals that are dead,” Steube said during a press conference held near the residence.

“We’re investigating this right now as a double homicide-suicide and it is going to be some time before we have the opportunity to make notifications to at least one of the deceased’s next of kin,” Steube said.

Late Monday evening, the sheriff’s office identified the victims, a woman, Odalys Martinez-Castiles, 50, and a child, Zakyel Hernandez, 12. The identity of a male in his 50s was withheld, pending notification of his next of kin.

Detective said Odalys Martinez-Castiles and Zakyel Hernandez suffered from homicidal violence. No further information on a motive or cause of deaths was released Monday.

Steube said the sheriff’s office has no motive at this point. Deputies in 2009 responded to the residence for a report of domestic violence.

As the sheriff spoke, a frantic woman cried hysterically behind the crime scene tape before she was allowed to cross and join a small crowd at the dead-end street.

“She’s my aunt!” the woman screamed in Spanish earlier when she arrived at the scene.

Part of 38th Avenue West was blocked by crime scene tape as detectives worked. At the end of the street, several people spoke to investigators under the shade of a tree. A woman screamed in agony.

Neighbors stood by the intersection of 20th Street West and 38th Avenue West. One of them, Jamie Diseker, 28, says she knows one of the victims.

“She was a sweet woman,” Diseker said as she peered across the street at a tent under which investigators stood. “She would give her last dime in her pocket for anyone. I’ve asked her for change many times. She’s talked to me. We struck conversations. She could barely speak English that well, but she was a great woman. She can get me, and she’s gone now.”

Diseker said she hopes one of the victims isn’t a boy who often played with her younger brother.

“How am I going to explain that to my brother?” Diseker said, her hands over her mouth. “What am I going to say to him?”

“Bad things happen,” another woman said solemnly. “That baby’s in heaven right now, girl.”

Mark Souders, who lives next door to the victims, said the female victim was a nice lady.

“She all the time would say ‘Hey neighbor!’ She didn’t know my name, she just called me neighbor,” the 36-year-old said. “She’d be out here every day, every other day, feeding birds. If you go down there now, underneath all those vans and stuff there’s probably bread crushed up in the road that’s been run over where she threw it out for them.”

Souders said he has heard arguing coming from the home.

“I never heard any hitting or anything,” he said. “Usually just back-and-forth — both of them yelling at each other.”

Steube said there are “obvious signs” of what happened but without having time to spend at the scene, the sheriff said it’s going to be a couple hours before the sheriff’s office would be able to release more information.

“And in talking to some of the neighbors, there is sometimes a lot of arguing that goes on at this residence,” he added.

The investigation is ongoing.

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