Fil Am Fugitive Arrested In California

by Joseph G. Lariosa

CHICAGO (jGLi) – Manila-born Filipino American Giovanni “Popoy” Spiller was scheduled to appear in court for status hearing of the first degree murder filed against him before Cook County Criminal Circuit Judge Henry R. Simmons in Chicago, Illinois 15 years ago when he cut off the electronic monitoring device clamped in his leg and fled to the Philippines.

On Monday, Feb. 27, the Chicago Tribune announced the arrest of Spiller at his suburban home in southern California last week, ending an international manhunt that had tracked the suspect from Chicago to Memphis and the Philippines.

Spiller, who later changed his name to Johnny Harrington to escape detection, will be due back in court on March 7.

Spiller was accused in the cold-blooded shooting death of Filipino American businessman, Roberto “Bobby” Castillo, on Nov. 29, 1996 outside Golden Cue, a pool hall, at 3241 West Montrose Avenue in Chicago’s northside.

One of Castillo’s two children, Carlo, who was then 22 years old, told this reporter that his 53-year-old father, a real estate businessman, and two friends were in the Golden Cue that day. Witnesses told Carlo that Popoy, who was also inside the Golden Cue, had a heated exchange with his father. Carlo added Popoy challenged his father to a fight but his father declined the dare.

It was while his father was walking away when Popoy shot his father in the back as well as other parts of the body, Carlo said.

.45 CALIBER PISTOL USED IN SHOOTING

Police investigators said Popoy used a .45 caliber pistol in the shooting.

Carlo said the feud between his father and Popoy started when his father and Popoy had an argument at “IC” (Imus, Cavite) restaurant in nearby Irving Park Road a month before the shooting incident. IC restaurant had since closed.

Castillo is a native of Taal, Batangas while Spiller is a native of Manila born to a Filipino mother and a black American father.

Bobby Castillo’s widow, Irene Castillo, was quoted by the Tribune as being “very glad to hear” of the arrest of Spiller.

Spiller was arrested by the FBI on Feb. 21 in the San Jacinto Valley community of Hemet after a tip to Chicago Tribune “Fugitives from Justice” website by a person, who contacted Chicago police. Hemet is 90 miles southeast of Los Angeles.

Spiller is now being held at Robert Presley Detention Center in Riverside, California pending extradition to Chicago.

The Tribune said, Spiller’s “case featured a low bond, an apparent lack of cooperation by the Filipino government and spotty law enforcement oversight that allowed the manhunt to drift for years.”

During his arraignment in January 24, 1997, Spiller entered a not guilty plea.

Spiller was arraigned following his surrender on Dec. 18, 1996. He fled shortly after the shooting incident at about 6:20 p.m. in front of Golden Cue pool hall.

Although out on bond, Spiller, reportedly a former truck driver, was restricted from leaving his Chicago home. An electronic monitoring (EM) device was clamped on his ankle to monitor his movement 24 hours a day. Only in time of emergency can Spiller be allowed to leave home.

If he violated the electronic monitor procedures, his $20,000 bond deposit would be canceled and confiscated by the authorities. If he is rearrested after violating the electronic monitoring procedures, he will be jailed and will be denied bond until the duration of the trial of his case. (lariosa_jos@sbcglobal.net)

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