VANCOUVER, Wash. (KOIN) — It’s been nearly 2 decades since a 49-year-old man known as “Jesus Mike” was murdered by masked gunmen in his house.
Jesus Mike, whose real name was Michael Casteel, died on September 22, 1997.
His daughter, Monica, was there the night of the murder. Although she was just 8 at the time, she tells KOIN 6 News she sensed her dad knew something bad was going to happen.
“I’d been in situations previously, so I kind of knew,” Monica began. “He had cash, he had drugs. I mean, that’s what he did.”
Detective Kevin Harper was also there that night. He remembers talking to Monica just minutes after she witnessed her father’s murder.
Monica told police at the scene the gunmen took cash from her dad and told him to lie face down on the floor. That’s when one of them shot him in the back of the neck.
“I was in bed right here,” Monica recalled. “They put a gun to the back of his neck and I remember him falling to the ground. He had false teeth and I remember his teeth falling out and he just fell on the ground. He was dead instantly.”
Harper said police knew Casteel’s name long before his murder investigation.
“He was a street-level marijuana dealer, his primary income was from that,” he said. “There were a couple bars he frequented and if he had money he’d show people… He liked to flash his cash.”
Records kept by Vancouver Police Dept. show Casteel had been robbed before.
He had recently sold pot to an undercover cop, but cracked a deal with prosecutors and turned in his supplier. He had also come into a pile of cash just before his death.
“People speculated that he [had] informed on the wrong person or talked about the wrong person,” Harper said. “Whether or not that’s true, there’s plenty of other reasons for a homicide like this to occur.”
So, who killed Jesus Mike?
Harper said his department investigated 3 sets of suspects that brought up 20-30 names. But they never came close to charging anyone for the murder.
Nineteen years later, Harper says he still believes the case can be solved if people come forward and help investigators fill in the gaps.
But Monica says she has moved on.
“I guess I kind of want to know who did it. But then I kind of, at the same time, don’t. None of that is going to change anything for me, it’s not going to make a difference,” she said. “I’m always going to miss my dad. He was my world.”