Arrest made in 2000 killing at Cobb County hotel

On Dec. 7, 2000, Rodney Castlin was working as the night manager of a Cobb County hotel when robbers shot him in the chest, killing the 36-year-old married father. Castlin’s wife was expecting the couple’s fourth child when he was killed.

Since then, Castlin’s killer has remained at large, even though his family never gave up hope. Monday, the U.S. Marshals Service announced an arrest in the cold case. James Lorenzo Randolph, 32, was arrested without incident in Columbia, S.C., according to Supervisory Inspector Gavin Duffy with the U.S. Marshals. Randolph was booked into the Richland County jail and is accused of killing Castlin, according to police.

Early Monday, Castlin’s wife got the phone call the family had always hoped for, Castlin’s mother said. Gwen Castlin told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution her family had been talking about Rodney’s death in recent days. His birthday would have been Oct. 23.

“We all had been taking about it. then we get the call,” Gwen Castlin said. “The tears were happy tears, but then we just lost it.”

In December 2000, Castlin was working the night shift at the Wingate Inn off Barrett Parkway when he walked out from a back room to check on some commotion at 10:30 p.m. That’s when Castlin walked into two robbers who demanded money, then demanded more, and then shot him before fleeing, according to police. A hotel clerk was also wounded.

Almost 2,000 people attended the funeral for the father of three, who was voted “Most Humorous” by his senior class at the former Walker High School in Decatur. Castlin was working nights at the Wingate so he could return to college for a business degree.

Police admittedly had few clues in the slaying until recently.

“This case remained cold until the recent investigation by the Cobb County District Attorney’s Office Cold Case squad, working hand in hand with the Cobb County Police and Sheriff, made a significant break in the case, identifying James Lorenzo Randolph as a suspect in the murder,” Duffy said in an emailed statement Monday afternoon.

No information was released about how Randolph was linked to the case, which remains under investigation, DA Vic Reynolds said.

“This case is not over,” Reynolds said in an emailed statement. “But we are pleased that a significant step toward justice for Mr. Castlin’s family has been taken. We look forward to bringing this suspect to face trial in Cobb County as soon as possible.”

Reynolds also said a second arrest could follow.

“We are actively looking at a second suspect,” Reynolds told The AJC.

Since her son’s death, Gwen Castlin said his four children, ranging in age from 13 to 26, are excellent students and athletes. Eighteen-year-old Kyle, just 4 years old when his father died, is a member of the Columbia University basketball team, Castlin said.

“That’s what makes it more sad. He had such wonderful kids that have done so wonderful in school,” Gwen Castlin said. “We’ve had all kinds of good things to happen, but that memory won’t go away.”

Randolph is expected to be returned to Cobb County.

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