Murdered teen’s life honored by foundation teaching other students, offering scholarships

Erin Rios Castro Foundation 5K Saturday raises scholarship money for teens affected by violence

SAN ANTONIO – A horrific tragedy four years ago has been turned into a platform for love and education.

Erin Rios Castro was murdered by her on-and-off-again boyfriend on her 19th birthday. During Teen Dating Violence Awareness month, her family honors her by serving others.

“I’ve always said if it could happen to her, it could happen to anyone. She’d speak up for herself and someone else that needed it. Fearless, you know? She was spicy!” said Erin’s mom, Rena Castro.

In September 2018, Erin Castro and Joshua Garcia got into an argument. Police said Garcia stabbed her before running her over with his car so she wouldn’t call the police.

In June 2021, Garcia was sentenced to 35 years in prison for the murder. He will serve that consecutively with another 20-year sentence for hitting Erin with a car back in 2016. She survived that assault.

“It starts out nice. It’s a grooming process, I believe,” Rena Castro said. “Before Erin knew it, she was almost brainwashed. She wasn’t the same Erin. The old Erin wouldn’t have let somebody treat her the way she was being treated towards the end.”

That’s why Rena Castro set aside her pain to create the Erin Rios Castro Foundation, where her family visits schools to teach teens about dating violence and healthy relationships.

“You have a voice. Use it and love yourself, and know that you’re worth it. You’re not alone. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. Get help,” Rena said.

They instruct parents and students to look for verbal abuse, such as the following:

  • Threats
  • Incessant calling
  • Constant accusations of cheating
  • Degrading/negative comments
  • Twisting partner’s words

They also want people to understand emotional abuse signs:

  • Isolation from family/friends
  • Intense jealousy/rage
  • Body shaming
  • Taking personal items
  • Constant Interrogations

The foundation also gives out scholarships to teens who have been affected by domestic violence.

“Affected in any way. That can be yourself affected, or a loved one, maybe you’ve seen your parents or your neighbors, or your aunt, uncle, cousin, friend,” Rena Castro said.

This Saturday is the annual 5K event that funds those scholarships, and Rena hopes the public will turn out to support the cause.

“We all want to help the next generation and the next group of girls. I see Erin in so many of the girls I talk to, and it breaks my heart, and I want them to break that chain, Rena said.

The 3rd annual Erin Rios Castro Foundation 5K will be at Woodlawn Lake Park on Saturday, Feb. 19, 2022. Packet pick-up begins at 8:00 a.m., and the race starts at 9:00 a.m. on that day.

There will be community leaders, games, prizes and resource booths.

To apply for the scholarship, you can find the application on the foundation website.

Anyone who is suffering abuse or knows someone who needs help can find a list of resources on KSAT’s Domestic Violence page.


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About the Authors:

Courtney Friedman is a KSAT anchor and reporter. She has an ongoing series called Loving in Fear, confronting Bexar County’s domestic violence epidemic. She's also covered Hurricane Harvey, the shootings in Sutherland Springs and Santa Fe, and tornadoes throughout Texas. She’s a California native and proud Longhorn who loves calling SA home.