GRIFFITH | Police continue to look for what triggered a murder-suicide Monday outside St. Mary's School where a Gary man killed his estranged wife
He later turned the gun on himself when confronted by police outside his garage.
"We are still trying to find the specific cause of the event," Griffith Police Chief Greg Mance said. "At this time, everything still points toward a domestic situation that turned violent."
The violence took place 10 days before the killer, Remanard Castro, would face a judge and the possibility of a 20- to 50-year sentence on charges he had raped his victim, Nina Castro, in November.
Laura Berry, executive director of the Indiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence in Indianapolis, suggested Tuesday the upcoming court hearing may have been the trigger.
She said if the rape took place last fall and the charges were only recently filed, Remanard may have deluded himself "into thinking he got away with it, and once he knew he had an initial hearing coming up, all of a sudden he is facing incarceration."
"That is when lethality escalates," Berry said. "If he thought he had nothing to lose and was going to prison, he was going to take her out as well."
Police said Remanard Castro, 55, fatally shot Nina, 42, in front of her teenage children in the school's parking lot in the 500 block of North Broad Street. She was picking up her son from an after-school religious program. Remanard Castro fled to his Gary home and shot himself in the head as police attempted to arrest him.
Lake County Prosecutor Bernard Carter's office said this occurred about five months after Castro previously pulled a gun on her.
Court documents indicate she had filed for dissolution of their marriage Nov. 18. Five days later, she drove to his home to pick up some belongings, and he ordered her to have sex with him.
Gary police said, according to her, "he grabbed her by the hair and pushed her into the bedroom ... and ordered her to take off her clothes." He took photos of her, raped her and ordered her to tell him how much money she had in her bank accounts.
Before letting her go that time, police said he also threatened to hit her with a crowbar and promised the divorce "was not going to be pretty, and that the kids were going to suffer."
Charges were filed Feb. 12 and Gary police arrested him two days later. He was freed Feb. 27 after posting a $9,000 cash bond. The bond was standard for the charges, according to Carter. An earlier report incorrectly stated there was an outstanding warrant.
It is unclear whether she sought a civil protective order against Remanard Castro following the separation or rape allegation.
Lake County Sheriff John Buncich said Tuesday his staff is prepared to help threatened women fill out court applications for protection orders. Superior Court Judge Calvin Hawkins, in East Chicago, said he is always ready to consider such petitions.
Carter said his office routinely asks criminal court judges to impose a stronger no-contact order in sex abuse cases, but state law requires the papers must be served on the person in open court in 10 days.
He said a deputy prosecutor involved in the case prepared a no-contact order.
"Normally, we would have had the judge serve this on him when he was in custody, but he posted bond in the jail and his lawyer asked the court to put off the first hearing until May 2," Carter said.
Carter said even a no-contact order might not have prevented this tragedy.
"It's just a piece of paper," he said.
Berry, of the Indiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence, said most people abide by it.
"But if a person chooses to ignore that authority, they present a high risk," she said.