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KFOX14 Investigates: Family searching for young man who vanished three years ago

Jerry Castillo's parents. (KFOX14)

A 21 year old El Paso man has now been missing for three years. It's a cold case ElPaso police are still trying to crack.

The family of Jerry Castillo Jr. is in agony. After three years, they still don’t know what happened to their son. He went out with a friend one Friday night and never came home.

“We will never understand why this happened to my son,” Terri Castillo told chief investigative reporter Genevieve Curtis.

“Our hearts have been completely shredded, like, ripped out of our chest. It's so unexplainable,” said Castillo.

Jerry, known as ‘J’ to his mother and ‘J.J.’ to his father, grew up in San Elizario.

“He vanished without a trace. How do you explain that?” said Castillo.

His family has been without closure and without peace for three years.

“It's a gut-wrenching feeling,” said Castillo.

While he was growing up, Jerry played baseball on a team coached by his father, Jerry Castillo Sr., and fished for trout with his father in Ruidoso.

“He was such a good kid, my son,” said Terri Castillo.

His true passion was music. He played four instruments. But the guitar was his true love.

“He was very talented and blessed and gifted,” said Terri Castillo.

At Riverside High School, he was a leader in the guitar club.

In his bedroom his guitar strings have sat silently still.

“Any guitar I hear makes me cry,” said Castillo.

His laundry sits in the same hamper it's been in for three years. She can't bring herself to wash it.

“His scent is here. Every time we open the door, the scent reminds me of him,” said Castillo.

Three years later, what happened to Jerry remains a mystery.

“Jerry vanished. Jerry was there one minute and was not the next,” said Detective David Camacho, with the El Paso Police Department’s cold case unit.

Camacho has been working on this case since 2015.

“It doesn’t come easy. We are constantly checking different databases,” said Camacho.

The unit has followed up on leads over the years.

“We had different (reported) sightings of him but they were all negative,” said Camacho.

Here's what police know about the night of March 20, 2015.

Jerry spent time with his parents before heading to a gathering with friends from high school.

“I said, ‘Be careful. Whatever you do, just be careful,’” said Terri Castillo.

That was the last time she and her husband saw their son.

In the early-morning hours of March 21, 2015, Jerry met a girl he was seeing.

They argued and, she told detectives, Jerry got out of the car to take a walk andcool down.

She returned Jerry's car the next day.

“His girlfriend was the last person to see him,” said Camacho.

Detectives said there's evidence suggesting Jerry was walking along Pellicano Drive near George Dieter Drive, not far from the apartment complex where he lived with his parents.

His cellphone was found in that area.

“We start canvassing the area, looking for cameras,” said Camacho.

Cadaver dogs, Border Patrol agents and FBI agents searched the area.

But there was no sign of Jerry.

“A case like this, I wouldn't say it weighs heavy on me but it's one that is ever-so-present. To get closure for the family, if that’s the case, or find remains, to find him, to find answers,” said Camacho.

Police do not believe Jerry's disappearance is a homicide.

“We could not find signs of foul play,” said Camacho.

But exactly what could have happened to him?

“The possibilities are endless,” said Camacho.

Camacho hopes someone will finally come forward.

“We as a department feel that somebody may have seen him do something,” said Camacho.

Terri Castillo has a different theory.

“They hurt him. They did something terrible to him,” she said.

The last text message sent from his phone at almost 3 a.m. read, “Please help me.”

“For someone to text 'please help me' tells me that they need help immediately,” said Castillo.

The Castillos no longer believe their son is alive.

“I really wish he was, but my heart and soul tell me otherwise,” said Castillo.

But she and her husband cannot rest until they find out what happened to Jerry.

“We don’t even have the strength to get up, believe it or not, even after three years,” said Castillo.

It's the unknown that eats me. It's daily, from the moment I wake up until I lay my head down on my pillow,” said Castillo.

The family is offering a reward for information on what happened to Jerry.

“Please, if you know something, however small, please come forward,” said Terri Castillo.

If you have any information, you are asked to call Crimestoppers

at 915-566-8477.

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