An Easter without hope-Part 1
Something that was thought to be lost that emerges new and gives joy back to those who had lost all hope. Easter can be thought of like this. It’s a time of rebirth, new beginnings and hope.
For some the Easter of 1990 in Odessa, TX was spent searching for something that was lost. Tragically, what was lost would turn out to be gone forever. On the night before Easter Sunday of 1990 in West Odessa, TX an 8 year old girl named Gloria Castillo goes missing from the home she lives in with her mother and 4 siblings. She was last seen playing in the trailer park where she lived on the evening of April 14th, her brother, Jose Castillo Jr. was allegedly the last person to see her before she disappeared. Gloria’s mother, Ninefa Castillo said that her son came inside around 6 p.m. that Saturday saying he was hungry, when she asked him where his sister was he told her she was playing. The girl’s mother said that about 10 minutes later she went to check on her and she was gone. Gloria’s mother reported her missing around 9 p.m. that night, the next day an extensive search for the 1st grader began. About 50 volunteers comprised of sheriff’s deputies, neighbors and concerned citizens spent their Easter Sunday looking for the little girl. A helicopter provided by the Texas Department of Public Safety assisted in the search. Gloria was gone. Her mother reported to the Ector County Sheriff’s Capt. Gene Kloss that Gloria was almost deaf and had some learning disabilities but said that she would never have gone off on her own, “She never goes anywhere without my permission,” she said. “She did not just wander off….someone took her.”

Gloria was described in the paper as Hispanic, about 3 feet tall, weighing about 70 pounds with short black hair. She was last seen wearing a blue-jean skirt with a zipper on the front, a blue, purple and white shirt with buttons on the shoulder and chest, and gray and white tennis shoes. A picture in The Odessa American newspaper on April 17th 1990 shows two women sitting on the steps of a trailer house and a man standing in front of them with one arm across his chest and his other hand under his chin with a look on concern on his face. The picture is of Ninefa Castillo, Gloria’s mother, as she sits with two of her neighbors in front of the home she lives in with her five children, Gloria, three sisters; Elizabeth, Maria, Cristina and her son, Jose. The people in the photo however, seem to be secondary in importance . What stands out is the empty swing in the forefront, the little red wagon behind it, a bicycle, basketball and other children’s toys that can be seen in the black and white image are obviously the intended focus. I’ve seen hundreds of Odessa American archived newspaper clippings covering murders and missing persons from the 80’s and 90’s and to be honest so far this is the best photo accompanying a story of its kind I’ve seen. (photo credit to Mark Rogers of the Odessa American circa April 17th 1990)
Seven days later a tiny body is found in a deserted field just five miles away from where Gloria went missing. It’s April and temperatures during the week from the time the girl went missing to the day a body was found in a field hit 90 degrees twice. Severe decomposition makes positive identification impossible but the clothing found on the body is shown to the mother of the missing girl and it’s painfully obvious that the search is over.
On April 21st 1990, in an open field scattered with tumbleweeds, litter, and mesquite bushes a child’s body is found wrapped in a blanket, dumped in the dirt, left to the elements for seven days and seven dark, lonely west Texas nights.

She didn’t get there on her own. She didn’t wrap herself in a blanket and wander five miles away from her home and then lay down in an empty field alone and die. Someone brought her there. There wasn’t even one of those all too often heard of “shallow graves” dug for Gloria. No, whoever put her where she was found didn’t seem to make an attempt at concealing her body at all. That, or they were in hurry to flee. Either way she was gone and the hope that what was lost would emerge and joy would be restored to her family and the community that Easter was gone.
During the search there were reports of a man with a mustache in an orange pickup seen giving candy to an unidentified girl the day that Gloria went missing. Initially it was thought that the little girl was abducted and the parents in Ector County started to panic. They weren’t letting their children walk to school anymore and teachers were taking time out of class to teach their students about the dangers of talking to strangers and what to do if someone tries to kidnap them. Eventually a statement is released in an effort to calm community tensions. In the statement made by District Attorney Gary Garrison, “because of newly discovered information in the case of Gloria Castillo, I do not believe that Ector County parents have any reason to be frightened that there is an unknown child abductor loose in our community. That apparently is not the situation in the Castillo case.” ………