Daily Herald
Michael Castro, budding auto mechanic
By Dan Culloton | Daily Herald Staff
Published: 8/4/2009 5:03 PM | Updated: 8/4/2009 9:50 PM

Originally published Jan. 10, 1993

There was a moment of hope, when Michael Castro's friends thought they found indisputable proof that the 16-year-old was still alive.

Jaybee Anama and his brother, Noel, rushed to Brown's Chicken & Pasta Saturday morning, when they heard the stunning news that seven people had been found murdered. They were heartened that Castro's cherished pickup truck was not in the parking lot.

They drove to Castro's house nearby and found the white, pinstriped vehicle parked under the bent basketball rim in the driveway.

But the relief was short-lived.

Seeing Michael's grim-faced parents at the Palatine police station they realized the horrible truth. The news nearly crippled his friends. Castro's father drove him to work Friday because the truck did not have snow tires, said Brian Cromer, 17, of Palatine, who has known Castro since eighth grade.

Castro's Palatine High School friends and fellow employees remembered him Saturday as a gregarious and popular student who worked at Brown's as part of Palatine Schaumburg Township High School District 211's cooperative work program. He wanted to earn money to install a new stereo system in his truck, they said. The pickup, equipped with a black truck cap, was a big source of pride for Castro, a graduate of St. Theresa Catholic School in Palatine who loved to drive and tinker with automobiles.

A stocky 5-foot, 5-inch boy with brown eyes and dark hair, Castro was youngest in his family.

Friends and classmates said he was a hard-working student who strived to make the honor roll and recently joined the auto club to learn more about mechanics. Recently, Castro had begun to reflect about his high school experiences.

"We always talked about how time flies," Anama said. ''Everything in high school went so fast for us that we just wanted it to slow down so we could enjoy it more."