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Home Sections MiscellaNEWS Fil-Am Woman's Decomposing Body Found in a D.C. Condo
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Sections - MiscellaNEWS
Wednesday, 02 March 2011 23:41

 

By JOSEPH G. LARIOSA

Journal Group Link International)

  

Deceased Woman’s only other Known Relative in the U.S. Is a Young Niece in California

 

C HICAGO (jGLi) – The body of a former employee of a Filipino diplomat was found in an advanced state of decomposition two months after she was believed to have died inside a condominium in Washington, D.C.

 

Executive Director Grace Divina Victoria S. Valera-Jaramillo of the Migrant Heritage Commission in Washington, D.C., identified the deceased as Zenia Costales Castillo, 50, a Philippine native, whose time of death was placed between Dec. 6 and 10, last year.

 

Born on September 18, Zenia’s parents were the late Benjamin Castillo of Nueva Ecija and Rosalina Costales Castillo of Cagayan province. Her mother, now Mrs. Rosalina Connolly, in London, England, has dementia.

 

She is survived by her three older sisters Rosemary, Evelyn and Corazon, all living in the Philippines and all married. Zenia was the youngest and had remained single.

 

A close friend, Yden Ayap, said Zenia used to work for a Filipino diplomat in the early 1980s in Egypt and might have also been hired locally at the Philippine Embassy there. She was later referred to an American diplomat, who brought her to the United States.

 

When she was let go by her American employer, Ms. Ayap helped her look for another family to sponsor her until she landed a job as a service staff in a retirement home. She also managed to adjust as a permanent resident and died as a naturalized American citizen.

 

But Zenia did not socialize and had lived by herself in the Washington, D.C., condominium. She just focused on her work so she had money to send to her sisters and their families in the Philippines. She did not associate with Filipino neighbors and rarely attended community events.

 

The only person listed in the condominium administration to be contacted in case of emergency was Ms. Ayap, who was vacationing in the Philippines for two months when Zenia went missing.

 

HAD ONLY ONE NEXT OF KIN IN U.S.

 

Z enia’s only other known relative in the U.S. was her young niece, Maria Castillo, in her mid-twenties living in California. They had not seen each other but were only connected through phone calls.

 

Perfecto Paras, president of the Filipino Community of the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament, had requested the building administrator to have Zenia’s apartment door opened when Zenia went missing. The request was declined since he was not the listed person to be contacted during emergency.

 

When Zenia did not show up for work at Georgetown between Dec. 6 and 10, her employer reported her absence to the police on Dec. 14.

 

Police was not able to get into her apartment as Zenia changed her locks. On Dec. 17, police returned to check on her but there was no response.

 

The building manager slipped under Zenia’s apartment door addressed to her, checking her condition and that the police would break her door to open it if she did not confirm that she was okay.

 

The police, however, did not break the door.

 

The door was only opened when Ms. Ayap arrived from the Philippines with the help of a locksmith, who had to undo a chain and double lock. When the door was opened, a foul smell spewed out, prompting Ms. Ayap and the building manager to call the police.

 

The decomposing body of Zenia was found on the sofa, where Zenia slept, not in her bedroom.

 

Ms. Florencia Kukor, Zenia’s former neighbor friend in the 90’s, said she last saw Zenia waiting on M Street bus stop in Washington, D.C., sometime by the end of November or first week of December. That was about ten days before Zenia was believed to have died.

 

BUY ITEMS FOR BALIKBAYAN INSTEAD OF FUNDRAISING TICKETS

 

M s. Kukor described Zenia between four-feet-eight inch and four-feet-nine inch tall not fond of parties nor community events. She would rather buy items to fill up her Balikbayan (homecoming) boxes than buy tickets for fund-raising dance events. She would ship these boxes to the Philippines.

 

The Migrant Heritage Commission got wind of Zenia’s case as missing person through Ms. Bing Macariola of the Filipino Community of the Blessed Sacrament a few days before Zenia was found dead.

 

Zenia’s young niece, Maria Castillo, flew in from California as the only closest relative of Zenia. Ms. Castillo authorized Ms. Ayap and MHC to help in funeral and repatriation arrangement.

 

The Office of the Medical Examiner is going through the motions of identifying Zenia’s remains, being made difficult by the decomposing condition. Authorities are looking for someone, who could provide Zenia’s dental records. The dental records can be relayed to the MHC thru telephone numbers 202-247-0117, 202-631-8856 or 703-273-1196 or email migrantheritage@gmail.com.

 

Masses will be offered for Zenia on March 6, 2011  (Sunday) during the Lord is my Shepherd Filipino Mass at Christ the King in Silver Spring, MD, 4-5 p.m. and on March 13, 2011, by the Migrant Heritage Commission (MHC) and the Fil-Am community during the 2011 MISA NG BAYAN, Holy Family Parish, 12010 Woodmore Road Mitchellville, MD 20721; 2 p.m. # # #

  

Editor’s Note: To contact the author, please e-mail him at:  (lariosa_jos@sbcglobal.net)

 



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