Suspect linked to series of crimes reported in Washington County following felony arrest

Colorado City Marshal's Office patrol vehicle in Colorado City, Ariz., Jan. 22, 2021 | File photo courtesy of Chief Robb Radley, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — A suspect arrested in Hildale on Sunday has been linked to multiple crimes in a number of jurisdictions throughout Washington County, after detectives investigating unrelated crimes in several jurisdictions got wind of the arrest.

Map of Hildale where the car wash that was broken into twice is located just north of Uzona Ave. in Hildale, Utah, Aug. 18, 2021 | Image courtesy of Google Maps, St. George News

The suspect, 52-year-old Danny Castillo, was arrested Sunday afternoon at a residence in Hildale by the Colorado City Marshal’s Office and transported to Purgatory Correctional Facility facing multiple charges, including second-degree felony criminal mischief and a third-degree felony count of the same charge. The suspect also faces a felony burglary charge, along with two counts each of theft and possession of burglary tools, each a misdemeanor.

The arrest stems from an investigation that was set in motion when a car wash in Hildale was broken into twice, Chief Robb Radley with the Colorado City Marshals Office told St. George News.

One incident was reported Aug. 7, when officers were dispatched to a car wash in Hildale shortly after 7 a.m. on a reported theft and vandalism. Officers arrived to find that a $6,000 vending machine had been damaged and the cash, about $20-$30, found inside had been taken.

Video footage showed a suspect wearing a dark hoodie prying the machine’s locking mechanism and then using a torch to melt the plexiglass the items were encased in. Once the machine’s keypad had been pried open, the suspect was seen taking the cash from a little black box before getting into a dark colored passenger car and driving off.

On July 15, a similar incident was reported at the same Hildale car wash. Radley said in this incident, two suspects entered the business shortly after 6 a.m., and surveillance footage later showed the pair entering through a backdoor with their faces covered.

Once inside, one of the suspects was seen cutting one of the coin machines apart and removing approximately $200 in quarters from inside. The suspects also took several hand tools before fleeing the business, leaving the coin machine with more than $2,550 in damage.

Radley said that by Sunday, detectives were able to identify Castillo as one of the men who entered the car wash during both incidents, and they were able to take him into custody without incident. The officer also noted that during the arrest, Castillo was wearing the same shoes as the ones seen in the video during the car wash break-in. He also had several tattoos that matched the ones visible in the footage.

The suspect faces multiple charges in connection with the car wash break-ins, including second-degree felony criminal mischief and a third-degree felony count of the same charge, as well as felony burglary. He also faces two counts of theft and possession of burglary tools, each a misdemeanor.

Once in custody, the suspect was allegedly linked to a string of crimes reported in Washington County over the last two months, including several vehicle burglaries, thefts, stolen credit cards and the theft of digital camera equipment.

Snow Canyon State Park vehicle burglaries

The arrest also caught the attention of Washington County Sheriff’s detectives investigating a number of vehicle burglaries reported in the Snow Canyon State Park area in June, according to the probable cause statement filed in support of the arrest.

Through the course of the investigation, and after obtaining images captured by a camera located nearby, deputies identified a black passenger car in close proximity to a vehicle that was broken into. The owner reportedly told deputies that more than $18,000 in digital camera equipment was taken from the car, along with a purse that contained credit cards and other personal items.

At the time of the incident reported on June 22, the vehicle was parked at the White Rock Amphitheater trailhead parking area at around 6 p.m. Some 32 minutes later, a surveillance camera captured a black four-door Saturn arriving in the parking lot, the only other vehicle present at the time. The burglary took place less than two hours later.

Police say the owner of the burglarized vehicle also told authorities their credit card was used at the Fabulous Freddy’s on North Bluff Street shortly before 8 p.m. that same day, as well as at a Mexican restaurant located just south of the convenience store.

Officers obtained the original receipt from the restaurant, which had the victim’s name and signature on it, but the writing appeared forged. Surveillance footage captured at the restaurant drive-thru showed the same black passenger sedan pull in, along with the driver who matched Castillo’s description, the report states.

The suspect also reportedly attempted to use the credit card to pay for purchases at Target on River Road, but by then, the card had been reported as stolen so the transaction was declined. The suspect then used several gift cards to purchase the items before getting into a black Saturn and driving off, as captured by the surveillance footage obtained by deputies.

The digital camera equipment taken from the vehicle at the trailhead was found at a pawn shop in Washington City. While deputies were able to link the pawn transaction to a woman who had already been arrested for pawning the items, it wasn’t until later that they linked the property to the vehicle burglary reported days before.

A review of the store’s surveillance footage showed the woman enter the pawn shop with a man on June 23, one day after the reported break-in. Police say the man was confirmed to be Castillo.

2020 stock image of Purgatory Correctional Facility, Hurricane, Utah, Oct. 20, 2020 | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

On July 1, deputies obtained information that allegedly confirmed that Castillo was the suspect who broke into the car the previous month, and the evidence collected through the course of the investigation tied Castillo to the break-in, the credit card purchases and the loan obtained the following day on the camera equipment.

Over the course of the next month, the report states, deputies received several anonymous tips reporting that Castillo was on the run and was last seen in the Hildale area. A search of the area turned up nothing, which led detectives to suspect Castillo may have been tipped off that deputies were closing in.

The suspect allegedly fled over the border into Colorado City, Arizona, where he had been seen living in a trailer to avoid capture in Utah, authorities say.

When deputies were notified that Castillo was in custody following Sunday’s arrest, they went to the jail to speak to the inmate.

During the interview, police say Castillo admitted to driving the black Saturn and said he was at the pawn shop in June but denied having any involvement in the burglaries or in any pawned items and then asked for an attorney – which terminated the interview.

At that point deputies submitted multiple charges to the Washington County Attorney’s Office for review, including second-degree felony theft, unlawful acquisition of a financial card and forgery, each a third-degree felony. The suspect also faces unlawful use of a finance card, vehicle burglary and theft by deception, each a misdemeanor.

Missing car

Castillo was then linked to another unrelated crime reported in Washington County in July, after a woman called police to report that her vehicle had been stolen. She told officers she had loaned the car to the suspect for a couple of hours on July  5, but then the suspect failed to return it as promised.

The owner reportedly told police she had attempted to make contact with Castillo by phone, text and by sending messaged through social media, and explained that all attempts had gone unanswered.

After five days without any word from Castillo, the woman called police to make a report, and based on Castillo’s history, the report states, the owner believed she would “never get her car back.”

Several days later the woman received word that the car was possibly in Hildale, where the suspect had been seen cleaning it earlier that same day, the report states. When the owner went to where the car was last seen, however, it was no longer there, but was later found abandoned in a ditch. The location where the car was recovered was in close proximity to where Castillo had reportedly been staying, but by the time deputies were called in the suspect had already fled into Arizona.

In connection with that case, Castillo was charged with third-degree felony of unlawful control of vehicle damaged during entry or operation in connection with the case.

In all, the suspect faces 14 charges related to the various crimes included in this report, and with no ties to the local area and confirmed ties to California, authorities requested he be held without bail following Sunday’s arrest.

Ed. Note: A new Utah law generally prohibits the release of arrest booking photos until after a conviction is obtained.

This report is based on statements from court records, police or other responders and may not contain the full scope of findings. Persons arrested or charged are presumed innocent until found guilty in a court of law or as otherwise decided by a trier-of-fact.

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2021, all rights reserved.

Free News Delivery by Email

Would you like to have the day's news stories delivered right to your inbox every evening? Enter your email below to start!