Jaime Castano, a part-time real estate agent and New York University student — who is neither of those things anymore — was arrested Monday for what police say is a bizarre and unmotivated attack on a female friend that has baffled not only cops but Castano’s own mother.
According to reports from police and prosecutors, Castano’s terrifying crime took place on August 23, when a a 19-year-old woman was asleep in Castano’s NYU dorm room at 80 Lafayette Street in New York City’s Greenwich Village district.
For some reason, police say the 20-year-old Castano, who was studying to earn a real estate license and was already a part-time agent at the New York real estate firm Citi Habitats, lit his sleeping companion on fire.
When the woman awoke and frantically attempted to douse the flames, he filmed her on his cell phone, singing throughout the woman’s ordeal. Castano then posted the video on the social media site Snapchat.
Both Castano and his alleged victim were heavily intoxicated at the time of the fiery attack. In fact, the young woman, whose name has not been made public, was so drunk that she didn’t remember the trauma of being set on fire in her sleep. She woke up at about 6 a.m. with painful burns on her torso, according to documents filed in the case.
Castano was charged Tuesday with assault and reckless endangerment for the incident, which NYU officials said they failed to report to police until late October out of respect for the victim’s desire to keep the police out of it. But a university spokesperson later said that NYU officials regretted that decision, and should have reported the crime immediately.
“I really don’t understand, I’m trying to make sense of all this,” Castano’s mother, Leena Heiman of Miami, Florida, told the New York news site DNAInfo, adding that the woman Castano allegedly confessed to burning “was a very good friend of my son. In his right mind he would never hurt her.”
Heiman said her son called her on Tuesday from police custody and told her, “Don’t worry mom, you have nothing to worry about. I have nothing to hide.”
Heiman may have to worry about how to get her son out of jail, however. He was being held on a $50,000 bond, or $25,000 cash bail.
In a similar but even more horrific fire attack reported earlier by the Inquisitr, three men in Ventura Beach, California, set a sleeping homeless man on fire Saturday. The homeless man was thankfully saved by a passing Good Samaritan.
Citi Habitats said it had since “severed our association with this part-time agent,” due to the alleged fire attack. New York University said that Jaime Castano, a native of Colombia who later moved with his family to Miami, has been expelled after the incident.