Shooting victim’s daughter hoped to reconnect with him

Benna Sayyed

Marisol Castillo was planning to meet her estranged father in person for the first time this month. After a deadly shooting Tuesday night, she is left with only memories of pleasant moments shared on the phone and online with dad, Joe Valero.

Valero and his girlfriend, Lupita Casteneda, were gunned down at a barbecue in front of their home on Prince Street.

Clovis Police Chief Steve Sanders said Wednesday that Enrique Deleon, 25, is being charged with murder and child endangerment for allegedly committing the crime.

Castillo, 19, talked with Valero for the first time over the phone three years ago after connecting with his family on MySpace. She lives in Seguin, Texas.

“It’s really sad that he didn’t get to live that long. I have two kids, and they will never get to meet him. I really wanted them to meet him,” said Castillo.

“He was always telling me that he loved me a lot and wanted to see me. He liked to laugh a lot and joke,” said Castillo.

Castillo’s last contact with her father was last week on Facebook. Messages on Facebook indicate Castillo was also in contact with Casteneda online, who was evidently trying to help Castillo work on forgiving Valero for his absence in her life.

Laura Lopez, whose brother was married to Casteneda, described her as a wonderful person.

“Lupita was very loving, very caring. It’s just so sad because of her kids,” said Lopez, who met Casteneda six years ago and the two became close.

Lopez said she had a pleasant phone conversation with Casteneda, a mother of four, Tuesday afternoon.

Lopez said she never met Valero in person but was aware that Casteneda had a 9-month-old son with him.

Cassandra Montayo baby-sat for two of Casteneda’s children and helped her move into her residence on North Prince.

The two became close after Montayo lost her mother in February. Montayo said Casteneda consoled at the time.

“I don’t understand it. I never knew of her hating on people. When I talked to her she talked about her kids,” Montayo said. “When I saw her she was always happy. I never saw her mad,” she said.