Suspected killer was in U.S. illegally: reports

KEARNYA 36-year-old Chestnut St. resident, who was reportedly in the United States illegally, stabbed the mother of his three children to death in their second-floor apartment, Hudson County Prosecutor Esther Suarezsaid.

Jose Castro-Lavado, originally from Peru, was arrested April 10 by Kearny police officers in connection with the death of Luisa Cristina Reyna-Tello, 46.

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He has been charged by the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Homicide Unit with first-degree murder, third-degree possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose and fourth-degree unlawful possession of a weapon.

Suarez said on April 10, at approximately 6:45 p.m., Kearny police officers were dispatched to 133 Chestnut St., on a 911 call of a medical injury. Upon arrival, officers said they observed the lifeless victim, Reyna-Tello, who had apparent stab wounds.

The victim, who reportedly lived in the apartment with Castro-Lavado, was pronounced dead at the scene at approximately 7:10 p.m. The cause and manner of death are pending an investigation by the Regional Medical Examiner’s Office. The results of that investigation were not available as of presstime (check during the weeks for any potential updates to this story.)

A New York City-based TV journalist told The Observer she interviewed a teenager who lived near the scene. The boy said he’d heard loud noises coming from the apartment.

“I heard screaming,” the boy said. “She was saying, ‘My mom, my mom, why my mom?’ That’s what really stuck with me.

The Prosecutor’s Homicide Unit is actively investigating the case with assistance from the KPD.  

Anyone with information about the homicide is asked to immediately contact the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office at 201-915-1345 or to leave an anonymous tip on the Prosecutor’s Office official website at

All information is kept confidential.

Kevin Canessa | Journalist & Webmaster

Kevin Canessa Jr. is a journalist and webmaster at The Observer. He is responsible for the editorial content on the newspaper’s website, the production of the e-Edition, covering the Nutley Police Department and more behind the scenes. From 2006 to 2008, he served as the editor of The Observer, where he introduced the newspaper to its first-ever blog — which included podcasts, audio and video for the very first time. Originally from Jersey City, Kevin lived in Kearny until 2004, lived in Port St. Lucie. Fla., for four years until February 2016 and in 2016, moved back to Kearny to return to The Observer full time. Click Here to send Kevin an email.