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Boyfriend confesses to killing former San Jacinto College student, mother of two

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Warner graduated from the paralegal studies program at San Jacinto College. She had just started a new job in the field when she was killed.

San Jacinto College North campus alumna Michelle Leigh Warner was discovered buried in an oilfield between Midland and Odessa in Texas after her estranged ex-boyfriend, Mark Augustin Castellano, strangled her and buried her body in a ditch.

Warner was last seen around midnight near the end of September at the Regency Square apartment complex in the Sharpstown area of Houston, where she lived with her ex-boyfriend and 3-year-old son Cayden.

Two days before confessing to the murder, Castellano, 37, appeared on the TV show “Dr. Phil” where he lied about her disappearance. A few days later, he confessed to the killing during an intense interrogation with investigators where he admitted strangling her, snapping her neck, placing her body in a container and burying her body in a ditch.

According to Castellano’s statements, the couple got into an argument about money and they had a history of fighting. He told investigators after the fight, Warner marched out of the apartment leaving him and the 3-year-old behind, while she went to visit some friends.

In reality, Castellano left Warner’s corpse in the apartment and drove to his parents’ home in Odessa with the 3-year-old. He contemplated what he would do with the body, and then drove back to Houston to place Warner’s body in a container, placing it in her own car while driving back to his parents’ home. Her body was in the car for a day and a half.

According to the Huffington Post, HPD Detective Waters stated that Castellano’s remark was, “I didn’t really try to hide her, I’m surprised you all haven’t found her already.”

After there were no signs of her return, her family reported her missing. Flyers where posted to help find her. According to her family, it was uncharacteristic of her to leave for that long and leave her purse and car behind.

Warner graduated at the top of her college class in 2003 in paralegal studies. Ernest Davila, Paralegal Program Director, taught her a few years ago and found out about her disappearance through the program alumni page on Facebook.

“It was bothering me ever since she went missing, then once I found out about what happened it made me quite teary,” Davila said. “Everybody loved her, she got along great with everyone, she was in Phi Theta Kappa and was a very bright student.”

He last spoke to Warner a few weeks before the murder when they discussed a reference letter for a new paralegal job. She only spent two weeks at Donato, Minx, Brown & Pool, P.C. before she was killed.

Marleyn Treviño met Warner in 2002 while taking an introductory course for paralegal studies. Treviño and Warner would talk about personal things, go to lunch, and work on assignments together. She found out about Warner while watching the news.

“She always had a smile on her face, she always had something to talk about, there was never a dull moment with her,” Treviño said.

“It’s for real, you just don’t believe it. You just think it’s never gonna happen to someone you know,” Treviño said. “She was one of the smartest students, very persistent and she would not quit until she had everything perfect.”

Mark Castellano is charged with murder and has been booked into the Harris County Jail. His bond is set at $150, 000.

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