Details of Disappearance
Daniela and her mother, Liliana, were last seen in Hialeah Gardens, Florida on May 30, 2016. They have never been heard from again. Liliana's sister, Yamileth Moreno Ramirez, reported them missing on May 31 after she was unable to reach them and found out Daniela hadn't been to school in almost a week.
When police checked the Morenos' apartment at 107th Avenue and northwest 50th Street in Doral, Florida, they found the door locked and Liliana's Toyota Corolla parked outside. Liliana's purse, wallet, passport, driver's license and credit cards were in the apartment, and there was food sitting out on the stove.
Police stated the state of the apartment lead them to believe Liliana and Daniela had left in a hurry. Although there were no indications of a struggle, investigators immediately suspected foul play was involved in the case because they didn't believe Liliana would have left her purse and identification behind.
Gustavo Alfonso Castaño is suspect in the Morenos' disappearances. He was the last person to see them before they disappeared. A photo of him is posted with this case summary. He knew Liliana because they worked in similar fields, he in construction and she in architecture.
He is Daniela's biological father, but he stated he never had a romantic relationship with Liliana. Castaño stated they maintained a cordial relationship in order to co-parent Daniela effectively.
Liliana's family stated Castaño was married to another woman when Daniela was born, and that he had only recently become involved in his daughter's life. They described Liliana's relationship with Castaño as "stormy" and stated he'd threatened to hurt her or her family, all of whom live in Colombia, and that she'd contacted the Colombian consulate with concerns about Castaño.
Castaño stated he met with Liliana and Daniela at their apartment at 11:00 a.m. on May 30, and that Liliana was cooking at the time and invited him to share the food. He declined and asked them to come with him to the Home Depot. He said he got into a heated argument with Liliana while he was driving them there, and she asked him to pull over and let them out.
Castaño dropped them both off near the Florida Turnpike and Okeechobee Road. This was the same area where they'd had lunch two days before. Castaño said Liliana scratched his right forearm as she was getting out of his van.
He drove to the nearby warehouse where he worked, did some work there, then turned around and went back to the place where he'd dropped Liliana and Daniela off, but they weren't there anymore.
Castaño said he never saw Daniela and Liliana again. He called Yamileth in Colombia the next day to ask if she knew where Liliana was, something Yamileth found strange, since he had never called her before.
Yamileth contacted some of Liliana's friends in Florida and asked them to check up on her and Daniela. Later that day she reported them both missing.
Castaño's warehouse is also in the area where he supposedly dropped the Morenos off. It was burglarized shortly after they disappeared, and a neighboring business, Discount Prints was also burglarized at the same time.
Discount Prints had a closed-circuit surveillance system and cameras installed on the outside of the building; the only item stolen from the business was a digital video recorder (DVR). The owner of Discount Prints said that on May 31, Castaño had gone to the business, asked about the surveillance system and inspected the DVR that was later stolen.
Castaño's cellular phone records indicate he was in close proximity to his warehouse at the time it was burglarized. Police found some paperwork relating to Liliana in a dumpster near the warehouse.
On June 2, Castaño contacted and spoke to various relatives from Miami, Florida through New Jersey, telling them he loved them, and he gave $5,000 and a new credit card to his ex-wife. He also rented a van from Home Depot in Hialeah Gardens.
Concerned that he might be planning to harm himself, police issued a county-wide BOLO (be on the lookout) bulletin for him and the rental van.
At 11:40 p.m. Castaño was located in a distraught state inside the van, in the parking lot of the Home Depot he'd rented it from. He inflicted superficial cuts on his neck with a box cutter as law enforcement officers arrived on the scene. The police subdued him with a Taser. One of their Taser shots hit him in the face and Castaño lost his right eye as a result.
Daniela was a student at John I. Smith K-8 Center at the time of her disappearance. Investigators believe she and her mother were murdered, but no one has been charged in their disappearances.