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Remains of Missing California Mother Discovered in Remote Area Near Mojave Desert After Sister Found ‘Significant Amount’ of Blood at Home; Ex-Husband Charged with Murder


Rachel Castillo appears in a missing poster

A missing California mother of two was found dead over the weekend and her ex-husband has been arrested and charged in connection with her disappearance and presumed murder.

Rachel Castillo, 25, was reported missing on the evening of Thursday, Nov. 10, 2022 after her sister returned home and discovered a large amount of blood in the family’s shared apartment.

“As soon as I saw the blood, that’s when I realized something wasn’t right,” Emily Castillo told Los Angeles ABC West Coast flagship station KABC. “So I called my mom to let her know to come over and then I immediately called 911. I was running around the house trying to see if I could find her somewhere. I checked her bathroom, under her bed, her closet, my closet, the laundry room, my bathroom and my bedroom but she wasn’t anywhere in there.”

Ominously, as Law&Crime previously reported, Rachel Castillo’s cellular phone, car keys, and vehicle were all still at home, according to her family.

Law enforcement say Rachel Castillo dropped her two children off with her father the day she went missing.

Simi Valley Police Department officers had categorized the crime scene as containing “a significant amount of blood” and that there was “evidence that a struggle occurred inside.”

According to Los Angeles-based NBC West Coast flagship KNBC, investigators said the scene was consistent with a “serious injury.”

Late Sunday evening, Nov. 13, 2022, police discovered the worst. Detectives with the SVPD found human remains in a remote area of the Antelope Valley, near the western edge of the Mojave Desert.

Law enforcement, working with the Los Angeles County Medical Examiner’s Office, identified the remains as those of Rachel Castillo.

Zarbab Ali, 25, was taken into custody at his parents’ home in Victorville, Calif. soon thereafter.

“The primary suspect in this case is Rachel’s ex-husband, 25-year-old Hawthorne resident Zarbab Ali,” the SVPD said in a statement.

Details about the investigation are currently scarce. Police have not floated a potential motive for the alleged murder.

“This investigation has rapidly evolved over the past few days,” the police department’s statement continued. “This case is still under investigation and some details cannot be released due to legal and investigative reasons. The Simi Valley Police Department will release additional details related to this case when it is available.”

Robyn Castillo, the deceased’s mother, told KABC that the arrest of Ali was unexpected.

“He had my grandchildren, I had texted him to ask how he was doing,” she told the TV station. “He offered to video chat so I could see the boys. I got to see my grandsons and speak to them and he expressed his concern and I just told him we’re doing everything we can … he said he was very sorry and hoped that she was okay. It seemed like a very normal conversation.”

“I really didn’t expect it to turn out like this,” Robyn Castillo added.

The mother, however, was adamant about focusing on the good.

During a vigil on Sunday, she said:

I’d like to not draw on what happened to her and who harmed her. I really want to celebrate my daughter’s life. She was a beautiful person. She was a wonderful mother, a wonderful daughter, sister, granddaughter, friend … she was very important to so many people and she just she really just wanted to help people and be there for others, and I just want everybody to remember that, and lets not dwell on what happened to her and who harmed her. Let’s celebrate her life.

[images via missing person poster by Robyn Castillo/ABC News screengrab.]

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