Today marks the six-year anniversary of the homicide of a T.G.I. Friday’s night manager and San Mateo police are asking the public for any clues that could help apprehend the killer.
Douglas Castello, 36, worked as a night manager at the restaurant when his life was brutally taken by an unknown assailant. He was discovered by a morning shift manager at approximately 5:15 a.m. Jan. 21, 2008, in the restaurant’s safe room located at 3101 El Camino Real. Police pronounced him dead shortly after arriving on scene. He died from blunt force trauma and the person, or people, responsible made off with an undisclosed amount of money from the restaurant’s office.
Few new clues have surfaced in the years that passed, so those who cared for Castello and police are asking for the public’s help in solving this cold case. A reward, which at one point was $40,000, is still being offered for information leading to an arrest in Castello’s murder, said Laura Johnson, Castello’s girlfriend at the time of his death.
“My life has changed a thousand percent, it’s not the same. And I’ve gotten past it to an extent now six years later, but it’s still always there,” Johnson said.
After Castello’s murder, Johnson discovered she was pregnant and later lost their baby. Castello loved his job, he was a boisterous happy person whose life was stolen from him, Johnson said.
“It just bothers me to know that somebody, at this point in time, somebody took a life and got away with it. No one is being held responsible,” Johnson said.
Homicide cases are never closed and although the case has passed through the hands of different detectives, the San Mateo Police Department remains diligent in finding the assailants who took Castello’s life.
“We never close a homicide investigation and so the case is still considered open and we’re still pursuing it,” said San Mateo police Detective Sgt. Tim Sullivan.
“It’s definitely something that still troubles us and it’s something we really want to solve,” Sullivan said.
Investigators have revisited information over the years and have worked with other law enforcement agencies, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s cold case unit, to push forward with the case, said Detective Sgt. Ryan Monaghan of the San Mateo Police Investigation Bureau.
“We worked with [the FBI] to kind of piece together some of the intricacies of this case to ensure the follow-up we do from now and forward is consistent with the direction we need to be going in with this case,” Monaghan said. “We’ve reached out to a multitude of agencies to assist us to ensure we’re using a multi-pronged approach to bring justice to the victim’s family and to Doug.”
The events of the morning Castello was found murdered will never be forgotten in Johnson’s mind, she said, and although she remains appreciative of the detectives who’ve worked his case, she desperately hopes someone will come forward with information.
“I think a lot of times what happens is because people forget, if I bring it up now and they realize it’s not solved, people are shocked. But it’s because it’s no longer in the public eye,” Johnson said. “Maybe there’s somebody out there that does know something that hasn’t said. Maybe at the time they didn’t want to get involved … or maybe it was something they didn’t think was important at the time. Now, six years later, even if it’s something they didn’t think was important then, it might give [police] another piece of information to look into. I figure nothing can hurt at this point in time.”
Even if a person prefers to remain anonymous, anyone with information regarding the murder of Castello should call the San Mateo Police Department, Monaghan said.
“We absolutely encourage it, like I said, by no stretch of the imagination is it a done case. On our part, there was loss of human life and we want justice to be brought for Doug and his family. So anyone with information is strongly encouraged to contact us,” Monaghan said.
Her life will never be the same and, as in any homicide case, no one should be able to take a life and get away with it, Johnson said. She hopes somebody out there can help bring justice to the Castello family and those he loved by reaching out and providing even the slightest clue, Johnson said.
“They don’t know what [information] might affect; even if it’s something small tied together with something else the police have, could help it in a direction [police] haven’t gone yet,” Johnson said. “I don’t think any information is too small if it has to do with that night. Something they’ve seen or heard back then, something they’ve seen or heard after. He deserves justice. At the very least his family deserves answers and I deserve answers.”
The public is invited to join Johnson and Castello’s supporters 6 p.m. at T.G.I. Friday’s in San Mateo to gather in his memory.
Anyone with information regarding the Jan. 21, 2008, homicide of Douglas Castello should call the San Mateo Police Department’s Investigation Bureau at (650) 522-7650 or the anonymous tip line at (650) 522-7676.
(650) 344-5200 ext. 106