Woman found dead in Columbia neighborhood

A 47-year-old woman with multiple gunshot wounds was found dead in the driver seat of a parked car in a Columbia neighborhood Saturday morning, marking Howard County’s first homicide of the year, police said.

Police identified the victim as Deborah Castellano.

A witness called police after noticing Castellano inside a Toyota Corolla parked outside of her home in the 9600 block of Basket Ring Road, which is less than a mile from Blandair Park and Oakland Mills High School.

Police said she recently moved to the area. She was dead upon arrival of responding officers.

Police in Howard County have reported an overall decrease in crime, with last year marking a five year-low, according to a release from the department.

Police reported four homicides for the past three years. Friday marked the anniversary of the double-shooting at St. Peter's Episcopal Church in Ellicott City. The suspect shot himself afterward.

“We have focused heavily on identifying emerging crime patterns and repeat offenders,” said police Chief William McMahon in a statement.

Howard police have focused attention on repeat offenders through the Repeat Offenders Proactive Enforcement Section, which has increased surveillance efforts and arrests. The department also attributed declines to new statistics-driven policing efforts that directs patrols based on crime.

Howard County’s violent crime rates decreased from 204 to 194 in 2012, while the statewide violent crime rate is 494.

Baltimore County, which has also reported a declines in crime, reported an overall decrease of 518 violent crime cases. There were 23 homicides in Baltimore County last year.

Anyone with information about the Columbia shooting is asked to call police at 410-313-STOP. Callers may remain anonymous. Police are offering a reward of up to $2,000 for information.

Baltimore Sun reporter Jessica Anderson contributed to this report.

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