Earlier this year, the dramatic conclusion to a mystery that captivated an entire community played out in an upstate New York courtroom. Mother of two, Stacey Castor was charged with the murder of her husband and attempted murder of her 20-year-old daughter.
The bizarre story began four years earlier, in August 2005, when Stacey Castor was at work waiting for her husband, David, to arrive. Stacey Castor, now 41, worked as an office manager at her husband's business, Liverpool Heating and Air Conditioning.
According to Castor, the couple, from Clay, N.Y., had had a fight the previous weekend, but she said she was still surprised that her husband was so late getting to work. She said she called him at home and on his cell phone several times but failed to reach him. Finally, around 2 p.m., she said she became really worried and called the police to report her concerns.
"My husband has locked himself in our bedroom for the last day," she said, asking for police to meet her at their residence. When police arrived, Castor was waiting in the front yard. Sgt. Robert Willoughby of the Onondaga County Sheriff's Department recalled that she'd mentioned that David had been depressed and that she was worried about the gun he kept in the room.
Armed with that information, the sergeant made his way inside the home and knocked on the bedroom door. He could hear the television and "banged on the door" but didn't "get any response."
Willoughby tried unsuccessfully to look through the bedroom window but ultimately forced his way in.
"I kicked the door in," he said. "David was lying naked across the bed."
Next to him on the nightstand the police found cranberry juice, apricot brandy and a couple of glasses. According to Willoughby, "one of the glasses is half full of a bright green liquid" and lying on the floor next to the bed was an antifreeze container.
Willoughby called for paramedics, but by the time they arrived, it was too late. David Castor, 48, was dead.
"[Stacey Castor] asked me if he's OK," Willoughby recalled. "All I said was, 'No, he's not.'"
Castor became hysterical, he recalled, screaming, "He's not dead, he's not dead." Her friend Lynn Pulaski arrived and found her inconsolable and in shock.
Married for two years, Stacey Castor, by all accounts, had found her prince charming in David, a tall handsome man who owned his own business and loved the outdoors. Pulaski said Castor's husband made his wife feel safe and secure and doted on her right from the start, buying her dresses and taking her out for fancy dinners.
"Stacey was loved. She was treated like a lady," said longtime friend Dani Colman.
Though things appeared to be perfect between the couple, Stacey Castor's two teenage daughters from her first marriage, Ashley and Bree Wallace, had a harder time connecting with their stepfather. According to Stacey Castor's mother, Judie Eaton, their relationship was strained.
David Castor was "difficult with the kids," she said. "He expected them to do everything he said without question. And them being my kids, they questioned everything and that created a lot of problems."
Dani Colman remembered that David used to call 17-year-old Ashley, the older daughter, "selfish and disrespectful." Ashley Wallace said her stepfather claimed "he didn't want to be our father, but then he acted in ways, he was trying to be."