Wichita attorney Martin Bauer, who investigated the case as part of a custody dispute involving Hughes' daughter, said Castro was the leader of a group of families and individuals who lived on a large piece of property on North Oliver in Valley Center.
"There were women particularly who were having some difficulty at that time in their life and he was helping them," said Bauer.
One of those women was Patricia Hughes. She became part of Castro's group in the late 90s. She eventually married Brian Hughes and had a daughter.
- In February 2001, Patricia collected a $700,000 dollar life insurance policy when her friend Mona Griffith (also a member of Castro's group) died in a plane crash.
- In June 2003, Patricia died while reportedly trying to rescue her 2-year-old daughter from a pool on the property. Her husband, Brian Hughes, collected $1.2 million in insurance money.
- In March 2006, Brian Hughes had an accident while working on his brother's truck in South Dakota. Since he's no longer married, a $500,000 insurance check is cashed by a friend named Kara Lemier, a friend who is also part of the group.
- In keeping with Brian Hughes' wishes, guardianship of his daughter went to another group member named Jennifer Hutson. Hutson died in September 2008 after a head-on collision with a gravel truck.
"The maternal grandparents came to us, as we've said in the pleadings, very concerned because of not one, but two deaths of this little girl's parents under unusual circumstances," said Bauer.
He helped the grandparents gain custody. And in doing so, he learned that none of the insurance money collected before or after the child's parents died had been earmarked for her.
Bauer said the investigation revealed a pattern of someone in the group dying and the others living off the insurance proceeds. He also said most of those who died had unusually large policies relative to their age and income levels.
Bauer believes there are about ten such deaths. All of them involve people connected to Castro and all of them were ruled accidents.
"We didn't have enough information to suggest they were anything other than, as reported, random deaths. But it was just the shear number said 'somebody's very unlucky' or is there in fact something wrong," said Bauer.
Of all the people named in this story, only Perez has been accused of a crime. The Sedgwick County District Attorney's office must still decide whether to formally charge him with murdering Patricia Hughes.