Teenager snapped before stabbing

Dozens of tearful family members and friends attend brief court hearing Monday for the man who killed his 11-week-old cousin. Click here for related articles, video and photos.
Jessica Cuffman
May 21, 2013

Denzel Castile, 19, had little to say during his arraignment in Sandusky Municipal Court. He told Judge Erich O’Brien he had no questions about the charges, and O’Brien set his bond at $1 million. 

Castile is charged with aggravated murder in Thursday’s death of Athena Castile, who was stabbed at least once in the head and once in the body. 

He’s also charged with felonious assault and assault on a police officer. His attorney is Erie County public defender Jeff Whitacre.

Click here for related articles, video and photos.  

Police said Castile used a steak knife to stab Athena when he was at his grandparents’ Dewey Street home late Thursday night. Relatives told police he snapped, and he had not been himself for several months.

Family members had previously taken him to the hospital for an evaluation after noticing his altered mental state, authorities said, but doctors had said there was nothing wrong with him.

Sandusky police went to the home at about 11:30 p.m. Thursday after dispatchers received a 911 hangup call. Officers arrived to a chaotic scene, with family members apparently trying to subdue Castile, who somehow managed to wrest away Athena and stab her several times. 

A family member zapped Castile with a stun device, and officers then sprayed him with pepper spray and used a Taser to zap him multiple times before he was finally subdued. He was taken to the hospital to have Taser barbs removed, then taken to the Erie County jail, where he has been suicide watch since. He’s also been under a physician’s care at the jail, Erie County Sheriff Paul Sigsworth said.

Still reeling from the tragedy, Castile’s family members cried silently as O’Brien read the charges. Castile appeared via video from the jail.

David Castile, Denzel’s grandfather and Athena’s great-grandfather, said it was not his grandson appearing on the courtroom’s television monitor. Something changed in his grandson since he graduated from Sandusky High School in 2012 and went to the University of Toledo as a freshman.

“There’s all kinds of things out there that will cripple, that can happen,” David said.

Family and church members have joined to support the Castile family since Thursday’s incident, and Sandusky police have been of great comfort, too, David said.

“They operated out of the spirit,” He said. “I couldn’t believe how comforting they were.”

The community’s reaction has been that of kindness, as well as a sort of rallying cry to create a movement to support children and young adults who transition from home life to being on their own, David said.

Athena’s body was sent Friday to the Lucas County coroner’s office for an autopsy. Erie County coroner Brian Baxter said he hadn’t receive any results from the examination as of Monday, although he expects the results this week. 

Athena’s death marks the first murder in Erie County this year. Last year was especially troublesome, as five people were charged in a record seven homicides in Sandusky.  



Yeah lets blame something else other than the accused...it wasn't his fault it was his mental illness....such BS. It's too hard these days to diagnose a mental illness it isn't like they can just walk in the ER and be diagnosed...He has a drug abuse charge maybe it was the drugs that did it that's what made him do it. Lets sue everyone and take no ownership about what this man did to an 11 week old baby....you got to be kidding me...nowadays everyone has a mental illness hell lets diagnose them all from the time he was born till he was 18 there was nothing wrong with this kid and now all of a sudden he has a mental illness..BS


DARN THEM for not predicting the future. I DOUBT that they said there was "nothin was wrong with him" What they VERY LIKELY said is that there was nothing they could do to HOLD HIM even for a 72 hour hold IF HE was NOT SUICIDAL or HOMICIDAL. It is STANDARD to ASK someone that. Unless they say "I want to kill myself or someone else" there is LITTLE THEY CAN DO.

Just a shame that people who post don't feel the responsibility to think first or do 30 seconds of research before posting something like holding the hospital accountable.



Mental health issues aren't that simple to diagnose, or even to recognize. It's not like you walk into the emergency room with a broken bone sticking out of one arm or blood running down your neck from a bad cut on your head! Sure, family members might see something is "off," but they KNOW the person. If the would-be patient exhibits behaviors within the norm when the doctor sees him or her, there's no diagnosis let alone treatment possible! Maybe the family should have encouraged, or even demanded, actual psychiatric counseling. With an examination conducted over time, it's a lot more likely there will be some answers. I sincerely hope the rumor the family wants to sue the hospital is JUST a rumor. It's frivolous litigation like that — where people are LOOKING for somebody to blame — that's helped spiral healthcare costs upwards.

Meanwhile, somebody actually wants to do something to assist people in the "transition" to being on their own? SERIOUSLY? Not so very long ago, that was called "growing up." It's something all of us have to do eventually, and I can count on the fingers of no hands just how many of us ended up stabbing babies because Mommy wasn't right there to pick up after us any more! Sheesh. Blame, blame, blame. Maybe George W. Bush got inside Denzel's head and made him do it...


100% Agreed.


SamAdams - HOW DARE YOU !!!!!???? How DARE you bring logic, common sense and truth into the discussion here!!



Very often schizophrenia shows up in a person's twenties. It's possible he has some sort of mental illness and they will probably test for that. He had to be out of his mind to kill a baby. It's a terrible tragedy for the family and I hope they one day find peace.


+ This

No defense, just understanding how this could happen.


why do you people keep trying to make excuses for this monster....I don't get it...blaming the hospitals, blaming college...uhh he was ok til he went to college...that's a stupid quote....he is to blame he left home and went wild partying and doing drugs and drinking...OVI, drug abuse, underage drinking....nobody to blame except the monster he is

Julie R.

Unlike that pure evil monster Clinton, I'm beginning to think this guy had a medical problem. A 19-year-old just doesn't snap and stab a baby for no reason ..... and he didn't even care that the police were right there when he did it. For all anybody knows, he could have a fast-growing tumor on his brain. That could very well explain the transition in his mental state that the family members were seeing for several months.


Although you and I don't always agree if anyone is familiar with schizophrenia or bipolar type 1, then this would explain his behavior. Not to be confused with not accepting responsibility for his actions. But, if it comes out Firelands dropped the ball on this one, that would be as tragic as this baby's death.


Well Julie that is easy enough to find out, mri of the brain and a blood test for drugs. Lets get on with it so we all know. These questions will easily be put to rest.


Denzel was a very nice boy,not sure what happened but it is true as mentioned above that this is the typical age that schizophrenia shows up..praying for everyone involved.


Everyone needs to stop. Denzel may have mental issues, but those kind of issues are difficult to diagnose. I know this due to the fact that mental illness runs in my family. He may not have been that bad when Firelands saw him. Even so, it does not excuse the actions. Denzel is to blame for the death of the baby. The famly is to blame for hanging up and saying nothing was wrong. They should have removed the child when the fight broke out. Even if what happened was not expected, a baby should not have been around a scene like that. Latly, Firelands shut down an entire wing of the hospital for the baby. If she was not stable enough to transport there was nothing they could do. A little body can only take so It is sad, but Denzel needs to be punished for his actions. The feel bad that little has been sadi about the baby as well. People are defending poor Denzel, but what about the poor little life that was taken. No one even seems affected by it. It's all just sad.

Julie R.

If people didn't care about that beautiful baby, I don't think there would be so many comments. As for people defending Denzel, I don't think it's as much defending him as it is trying to figure out why. What made what everybody is saying was a very nice boy change into a stark raving lunatic almost overnight?


No, most are DEFENDING HIM


Thank you Julie i have known him all his life.I just dont get what happened.

AJ Oliver

Yes, unassumer, it sounds to me like adolescent onset schizophrenia
It can come on suddenly, often to very bright males in their early twenties.
During my teaching years I dealt with two of these cases which were really hard on everyone.
The young guys went from being caring and high achieving to completely delusional in a matter of just a few months. And I do mean "completely".
Condolences to the family . .


The same can be said for drug induced psychosis.


So your all Doctors now...this isn't nothing but an act of evil period...go the mental illness route it really worked for Randleman...you need to stop making excuses for this monster.. a beautiful baby is dead and instead of praying for the family or this little girl...your focus is making sense of this monster...mental illness, drugs...just stop and point the finger at the monster and put the blame there and stop making excuses for him


Exactly Julie. Everyone agrees that Denzel needs and will pay for his actions, but it isn't and wasn't like him to do this and people want to know how n why a good kid can kill his lil cousin


Before blaming the hospital, lots of scenarios, a lot of options the family had for treatment. Did the family follow up with out pt treatment. And was he totally truthful that he intended hurt on anyone? Easy fix to say "hey, let's sue the hospital" oh and by the way... Lets blame the hospital that the baby died. Come on people, think before you post!


@Swift: I don't think that most posters are blaming anyone including Firelands Hospital. There is no fix. The child is dead and his cousin killed her. To understand the cause is just human nature.


that's not true most posters are making excuses, or blaming, or trying to come up with a logical reason why this Monster did this...let me help you guys out...there are no reasons for this action...it is a pure act of evil and you cant make sense of evil...it just is....I pray for the family of this little girl.


There are numerous individuals that can be classified as evil but I do not believe this young man falls into that catagory. No one is trying to condone his actions or point the finger somewhere else or make excuses BUT it's human nature to try and comprehend the "whys" of what happened. I'm very sure you have never really encountered evil in your life or seen it face to face- I have, on a personal level and I see clients EVERY day when I'm at work that are mentally ill and unmedicated and it's a very sad and frustrating part of my job. So seriously I really believe this boy could very well have snapped because of an undiagnosed mental illness. and if that's true, then that's tragic because that means this baby could still be alive if only he had received the help he needed. Peace and strenght to ALL the members of this family.


I see evil everyday its my job...I deal with the mentally ill and criminally insane...I have had a gun pointed in my face..i have been shot at and I have been stabbed....that is my job and I deal with evil on a daily basis... this man is EVIL..I have done this job long enough that the, I snapped, and insanity plea only works 1% of the time in all criminal trials....oh and that's right placing blame elsewhere, if he only had the help he needed...BS...more excuses and placing blame to others rather than where it belongs...this monster, evil, demented, selfish, young man who couldn't contain his anger

nosey rosey

No one just snaps. Quit making excuses and saying that this wasn't the person you knew as no one knows what is going on inside a person's head. It's such BS to try to blame this on something other than someone who has no regard for another life.




People do just "snap".It's called psychosis and it's not an excuse- it's trying to comprehend why this poor baby was murdered.


so your a doctor now....psychosis-loss of contact with reality... A GENERAL psychiatric term to diagnose NUMEROUS psychiatric conditions with abnormal sign or symptom that affects the mind, causing people to change the way they think, feel, perceive things, and behave...that doesn't mean snap...I think what you meant to say it was a psychotic break...that is snapped.....and there is no making sense of it since all murders are crazy because it goes against NORMAL instinct to murder someone...there is no excuse...he's evil...that's all stop trying to find out why and start helping this family heal from losing a beautiful baby girl rather than defending the monster who killed her


My prayers go out to this family, and for the person that said where was god in either this article or another one shame on you!! God gives you choices in life you are supposed to know right from wrong so this is in no way, shape, or form gods fault! There is no excuse why u need to kill a child or any person period, obv this man has a prob and needs help. What is this world coming to all I ever hear any more is another helpless child being taken , it never used to be like this ... I pray for a better world for people to stop fighting and to be positive, but I kno it's going to continue to get worse because people never listen, dont let the devil take u over ignore him and except Jesus in your heart and he will guide u threw and help u over come anything. again I'm so sorry for all the family and friends that knew or was related to this little girl and this young man , my heart goes out to all of u I also just lost my bAby cousin that was 3 years old so I know the pain u must be feeling stay strong everyone *god has another beautiful angel*