Flushing slay-suicide shocks leaders, kin

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Police have closed the case on two longtime Flushing friends who were found dead in an apparent murder-suicide last week, according to a spokeswoman for state Assemblywoman Grace Meng (D-Flushing).

Police said Wilmer Castano, 27, stabbed Claudia Montoya, 31, to death inside her Flushing home last Thursday, crashed a car into Flushing Bay and then killed himself several hours later by lying down on the tracks of the No. 7 train at the Hunters Point stop in Long Island City.

The two old friends, who attended Francis Lewis High School together, had been speaking to each other on the social networking website Facebook only one day prior to their deaths, according to Meng’s spokeswoman, Linda Sun.

“They were friends on Facebook and the day before they were actually posting on each other’s walls and commenting,” Sun said.

The day after the murder Montoya’s daughter, whose name has not been released, turned a year old.

Details were scant in the case and police had not released much information about the relationship between Montoya and Castano or their backgrounds and personal histories.

“They were definitely good friends at the least. I don’t know if there was a romantic relationsh­ip,” said Meng, who has spoken with Montoya’s sister Stephanie. “The whole case is very fuzzy now, no one seems to be talking. Her own sister is still waiting for details.”

Montoya was found dead with multiple stab wounds in her home on Murray Avenue in Flushing after police responded to a 911 call about a foul odor coming from the house, a spokesman for the city Police Department said. When they arrived, the woman’s body was in the bathtub, he said.

After the slaying, Castano allegedly turned on the gas in the house, which killed one of her two Yorkies, according to police. The other was carried out by an animal rescue squad, the New York Post reported.

Police said Castano stole Montoya’s black Mercedes-Benz and headed for College Point, where he drove off a bluff into Flushing Bay near 20th Avenue. No one was inside the vehicle when authorities arrived on the scene.

Police said hours later the man somehow reached the Hunters Point station stop and laid down in front of a No. 7 train. A report about the incident came through at about 12:29 p.m., according to James Anyansi, a spokesman for New York City Transit. Emergency personnel responded, power was turned off to the track and Castano, who was declared dead on the scene, was removed from under the train, and at about 2:10 p.m. train service resumed, according to Anyansi.

George Athanasopoulos, 45, one of Montoya’s neighbors, said he heard a loud noise last Thursday, which he said he thought occurred when a car speeding away from the woman’s house hit a brick wall next to the driveway.

“At first they thought it was a gunshot, but it was too loud,” Athanasopoulos said, referring to his neighbors.

Martha Flores-Vazquez, director of the Community Prevention Alternatives initiative, held a candlelight vigil Sunday afternoon attended by Meng. Flores-Vazquez suggested that women learn to defend themselves from future crimes by attending self-defense courses her group is hosting Saturdays in Flushing.

Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4564.

Updated 5:58 pm, October 10, 2011
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