"TA man accused of killing his ex-girlfriend and taking her body to the Midland/Odessa area appeared in a Houston courtroom.
Houston police said Mark Castellano, 37, confessed to killing Michelle Warner, 31, during an argument about money. Investigators said Castellano also confessed to driving Warner's body to the Midland/Odessa area and trying to bury it in an oilfield. Castellano helped lead police to Warner's body on Sunday. He was charged with murder and made his first court appearance overnight Monday.
"You have been charged with the felony of murder," a court official said. "The defendant choked and broke the neck of the victim."
Castellano is being held on a $150,000 bond.
Warner disappeared from her southwest Houston apartment in the 7200 block of Bellerieve along with the couple's 3-year-old son on Sept. 21, sparking a massive search.
Investigators said the 3-year-old boy was at home when his mother was killed.
"When (Castellano) did what he did, and it was quiet again, Cayden, who walked around the corner and looked into the room and saw Michelle's feet hanging off the bed," said Officer Fil Waters with HPD's Homicide Division. "He explained that to Cayden as 'Mommy's asleep.'"
Police said Castellano fled to the Midland/Odessa area with his son after the killing to stay with family members. Warner's body was in a closet inside their apartment during that time, officials said.
Investigators said Castellano came back to Houston, stuffed Warner's body in a plastic storage container, put it in a car and drove to Midland, where he dumped the body in a remote oilfield.
Castellano flew back to Houston on Sunday and gave a confession after two hours of questioning, police said.
"The crying was more self-serving than it was sincere," Waters said."Quite frankly, in this, if he had not confessed we would still be stuck."
Police said while the pair was no longer a couple, Warner moved in with Castellano because she fell on hard economic times, but had recently started a new job as a paralegal.
"This type of relationship, it's like gasoline and water," Waters said. "This was just not the proper mixture."
Warner's family members said they are devastated and can't believe they have to tell her 11-year-old daughter and 3-year-old son that their mother is gone. The children are staying with family.