Fil Am fugitive in murder case sentenced to 35 years

User Rating:  / 0

CHICAGO (FAXX/jGLi) – A Filipino American, who fled to the Philippines while facing murder charges 15 years ago in Chicago, Illinois and allegedly became a bodyguard of a Filipino politician, was sentenced Wednesday (Sept. 25) to 35 years in prison.


Giovanni D. Spiller, 67, born in Manila, Philippines, was captured last year after 15 years on the run. He was sentenced by Judge James Obbish of the Cook County Criminal Circuit Court in Chicago after a bench trial for the 1996 gun slaying of a former friend outside a pool house in the north side of Chicago.

Spiller was accused of killing another Filipino American, Roberto “Bobby” Castillo, 53, with a .45-caliber pistol outside Marie’s Cue at 3241 West Montrose Avenue on Nov. 29, 1996.

After he surrendered in 1996 after posting $20,000 for a $200,000 bond, Spiller, a truck driver, failed to show up during a court hearing on April 14, 1997, prompting Cook County Criminal Circuit Court Judge Henry R. Simmons to issue a no-bond warrant of arrest for Spiller.

Judge Simmons also ordered the confiscation of the $200,000 bond for his provisional liberty.

As soon as the alarm went off after Spiller cut off the monitoring device, Cook County sheriff deputies made a break for his home on April 13 and found Spiller gone. Spiller left the bracelet behind.

Spiller fled to the Philippines.

In early, 2012, a person, who knew Spiller, spotted him in Hemet, Southern California, and contacted the Chicago police and the FBI after reading an article from a Chicago Tribune series.

Spiller was arrested on Feb. 21, 2012 near his home in Hemet, sporting a new name, Johnny Harrington, an identity he obtained from an imprisoned criminal.

According to reports, when Spiller fled his home in Chicago, he went to Memphis, Tennessee and went to a Greyhound bus station.

Spiller later phoned a cousin that he made it back to the Philippines. It was reported that Chicago police got information that Spiller worked as a bodyguard for a Filipino government official. The report could not be verified.



Court records showed that Spiller met Castillo, 53, by the door of Golden Cue and exchanged heated words after greeting each other. This prompted Spiller to pull out his .45 pistol and fired at Castillo several times. Castillo was rushed to the Illinois Masonic hospital but he was pronounced dead on arrival. 

Autopsy report showed Castillo, a real estate businessman also of Chicago, sustained two bullet wounds on the chest, one each on the back, left leg and right forearm. 

One of Castillo's two children, Carlo, now 39, told this writer at that time that his father and two friends were going to the Grand Victoria casino at a Chicago suburb. 

Carlo added that according to information supplied to him by witnesses, Popoy was at the Golden Cue. He was told that when his father saw Popoy, they exchanged heated words. Popoy, according to Carlo, challenged his father to a fight but his father declined the dare. Carlo said that it was while his father was walking away when Popoy shot him in the back, as well as other parts of the body. 

Carlo said that the feud between his father and Popoy came into the open when his father and Popoy had an argument at the now closed "IC" (Imus, Cavite) restaurant on Irving Park Road a month before the shooting incident. 

Castillo was a native of Taal, Batangas, while Spiller, is a native of Manila and born to Filipino mother and an African-American father.

Calls placed by this reporter to Carlo Castillo and his mother, Irene Castillo, the widow of Roberto Castillo, for comments were not returned. ( This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. )