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Police Believe Fugitive May Be in County

TIMES STAFF WRITER

A fugitive wanted in connection with a slaying, a stabbing and an armed robbery in Washington state and California may now be in Orange County, authorities said Tuesday.

Antonio Magana Castro, 27, described as armed and “extremely dangerous,” may be in Southern California and possibly Westminster, where he once lived and still has family, according to officials with the Skagit County Sheriff’s Department in Washington state.

“We feel he’s probably pretty desperate and could be more desperate than he has been in the past,” Chief Deputy John Hunter said.

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Castro, a suspect in the slaying of a Washington man and the stabbing of another in San Joaquin County in California, was identified by fingerprints found in a stolen 1985 Chevy Suburban that had belonged to the victim in Washington.

Castro had been evicted from his last residence in the 7100 block of Maple Street in Westminster about two years ago, said Sgt. Mike Mittelstaedt of the Westminster Police Department. Authorities said they are still investigating where Castro resided between the time he left Westminster and Friday’s slaying.

Westminster police are looking for Castro, but “there is no active search party or manhunt” for him.

Castro is suspected of beating and fatally shooting a 72-year-old disabled man near Mt. Vernon, Wash., on Friday, torching a stolen car near the man’s property and then stealing his victim’s Chevy Suburban, Hunter said.

Mike Fadeff was found dead in his home early Saturday. The victim of the San Joaquin County stabbing on July 20--a 48-year-old man--is in stable condition, authorities said.

The Chevy Suburban was found Saturday morning when Castro was stopped by a California Highway Patrol officer. A CHP spokesman said the man was speeding south on Interstate 5 when he was stopped by an officer who noticed that the car’s license plate matched that of the vehicle believed driven by the suspect in Fadeff’s murder.

The officer stopped the car a few miles north of Redding. After a short chase on an embankment near a restaurant there, the suspect escaped into a heavily wooded area nearby, said Darrold Jourdan, a spokesman for the CHP in Mt. Shasta.

A number of guns stolen from the victim’s home were discovered in the car, Jourdan said.

The suspect then bought a white 1971 Ford for $250 from an elderly woman in Lakewood, about five miles south of the area.

The woman told police that Castro paid for the car with a wad of wet cash, which he explained had gotten soaked during a swim in the Sacramento River, which runs through the area, Jourdan said.

A team of dogs, helicopters and a SWAT team searched the area Saturday, but did not find him. Castro told the woman that he was heading toward Los Angeles, authorities said.


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