Shortly after 4 p.m. October 1, food truck operator Troy Thomas tweeted an urgent bulletin to his 1,855 followers: "The rolling stove was stolen today if anyone has seen it please let me know."
Within minutes, foodies and other truck operators bombarded 5,000 more people with retweets and replies. Here is a sampling:
@WCFLA: The Rolling Stove has been stolen! Call police if you see it. Not a joke!
@MsCheezious: if anyone sees @theRollingStove truck...call police...it has been stolen PLEASE RT."
@SugarRushMIAMI: Find the stove! RT
@FoodTruckinvasion: Gang need ur help. If you see the Rolling Stove truck call. No joke, truck has been stolen.
Thomas posted a similar plea for help on Facebook, which generated an equally vigorous response. By the end of the evening, the Rolling Stove was a trending topic on Twitter. The Miami Herald and WPLG Channel 10 covered the caper too. The social media buzz had the traditional media outlets marveling at the food truck community's ability to mobilize a BOLO via tweets and status updates.
The truck was recovered two hours later. Forgotten, though, was the story of the truck's theft, which might or might not be have something to do with the murder of a 25-year-old, Puerto Rican-born homebody named Yamil Rosaly Jr. Shortly after dawn October 1, Yamil's mom, Claudia, discovered her son's lifeless body on the front porch. His face had been bashed in. "I feel destroyed," she says tearfully. "He was a good boy who never roamed the streets or had any vices."
Claudia, as well as other relatives and friends of Yamil's, believe Nagib Castillo, a 25-year-old Colombian cook for the Rolling Stove, might have had something to do with their loved one's death. Castillo admitted to Hialeah police detectives that he had gotten into a vicious fistfight with Yamil, but he insisted he did not kill his friend.
A short, chubby young man with a thin goatee and almond-shaped brown eyes, Yamil was born in San Juan in 1983. Four years later, Claudia left her husband and relocated to Miami, where Yamil attended Lora Park Elementary, Miami Springs Middle School, and Miami Springs Senior High.
Yamil got into a lot of fights as a kid because older, bigger children picked on him, says longtime friend Romy Vidal. The boy and his mom moved from efficiency to efficiency in east Hialeah. However, she has never relocated too far from the Burger King where she has worked for the past 15 years. "Yamil always lived within ten blocks of my house," Vidal says. "He loved playing basketball and football at the park."
In high school, Yamil collected baseball caps and liked hip-hop music. "He had about 30 to 40 hats," Vidal recalls. "And he was always the first one on the block to get the latest new rap album."
While attending Miami Springs High, Vidal and Yamil met Castillo, whom Vidal describes as a teen who was constantly in trouble with the law. "We never really got to know Nagib because he was in and out of juvie," Vidal says. "He'd go in for six months and then we would see him when he was released. But it wouldn't last long."
Prior to his violent death, Yamil was a "homebody" who spent his free time searching YouTube for new music artists and played Xbox games against online opponents. "He was superfriendly and a social drinker," his cousin Veronica Soto says, "so it's not like he didn't know how to have a good time."
In 2004, Yamil was kicked out of Miami Springs for skipping too many classes, Vidal and Soto recall. "That was his biggest regret," Vidal says. "He spent close to two years just moping around his house."
Finally, in 2006, his mom's brother got Yamil a job at Dollar Rent a Car, where his uncle is a customer service representative, near Miami International Airport. During his first year of employment, Yamil walked 25 city blocks from his house to Dollar, Vidal says. "He finally saved up enough money to buy a white Mitsubishi Galant. He took pride in his car. He added rims and a $1,500 sound system to it."
Vidal and Soto can't remember the exact date, but a few months before his death, Yamil ran into Castillo, and the pair began hanging out. "Nagib was more laid-back and chill than when he was in high school and getting in trouble," Vidal says. "I wasn't hanging out as much with Yamil, so I guess Nagib filled the friendship void."
Yamil, Castillo, and others would play basketball every Friday and Saturday. The new BFFs would also spend a lot of time drinking together. "There were tons of photos of Yamilito and Nagib together on Facebook," Soto says. "They would throw parties for each other."
Soto didn't understand why Yamil, who had never been arrested, wanted to hang out with someone who had a criminal record. When he was 20, Castillo was arrested for armed burglary. According to a Hialeah police report, on April 7, 2006, Castillo and his girlfriend, Christine Taveras, broke into a house at 480 W. 42nd Pl. while the residents were inside. One of the victims claimed Castillo had brandished a gun. Six days later, Castillo was cuffed while working the stove at an Applebee's in Doral.
The victim picked him and Taveras out of a photo lineup. According to the report, Castillo confessed to the crime, stating "he needed to burglarize to feed his crack habit." He pleaded guilty and received five years of probation, which he violated twice by not paying $500 fines he still owes.
On March 30, 2010, Castillo was driving a red Chevrolet sedan near NW 50th Street and 97th Avenue in Doral when he was pulled over by a Miami-Dade Police officer working a burglary detail. According to a police report, the cop saw Castillo "circling the area, which has been victim to residential burglaries." The officer claims he found a fake social security card in Castillo's wallet. "My mother got it for me so I can work because I don't have any papers," Castillo allegedly said. He was criminally charged with fraudulent and criminal use of an ID, but prosecutors declined to move forward with the case.
When Soto asked Yamil why he was around Castillo so much, she claims her cousin told her: "I don't judge anyone."
Shortly after dusk September 30, Yamil invited Soto to hang out at his house. She took a pass when he informed her Castillo would be there. He was also bringing along his girlfriend and Rolando Tato, another employee of the Rolling Stove. Thomas had given them the night off after a heavy rain. He left the food truck in Castillo's possession.
Around 9:15 p.m., Yamil called his friend Maggie (she asked that her real name not be used), who was seven months pregnant. "He just wanted to tell me how happy he was for me," she says.
During the conversation, Maggie says, she overheard Castillo and Tato asking Yamil when he was going to get off the phone. "I guess they wanted him to join the party," she says. "Around 11:30 p.m.,Yamil texted me that he was having a good night."
Throughout the evening, Yamil and Castillo were goofing around by giving each other "nut-checks," a game in which one male friend softly taps or slaps another male friend's testicles when he is not looking, according to secondhand accounts told to Maggie, Soto, and two friends who spoke on background. Around 3 a.m., Tato allegedly left the party. A few minutes later, he received a phone call from Castillo's girlfriend that Yamil had "nut-checked" her boyfriend again. Castillo began hitting Yamil, who defended himself.
Claudia slept through the commotion. She never realized her son was in any danger, even though neighbors told police they heard yelling. The neighbors didn't call 911 or come out to see what was going on. According to the Miami-Dade medical examiner, Yamil died at 3:41 a.m.
Sometime during the day, detectives first made contact with Tato, who subsequently called Castillo to tell him the cops were looking for him, according to Thomas, the food truck owner.
Later that afternoon, Tato called Thomas to ask about the location of the Rolling Stove. Thomas believed Castillo was on his way to a food truck rally at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood. But when Thomas arrived, neither Castillo nor the food truck was there. That's when Thomas sounded the alarm on Twitter and Facebook.
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Thomas says he found out Castillo panicked after learning the police were looking for him. He left the truck near the Restaurant Depot on NW 12th Avenue in Miami and, along with his girlfriend, went to the Hialeah Police Department headquarters around 6 p.m. "They questioned Nagib for three hours and they let him go," Thomas says. "He acknowledged getting into a straight old fistfight with Yamil, but there was no gun involved and no bludgeoning involved like some of Yamil's friends have suggested around town."
Soto and Yamil's parents claim Hialeah police officials have not questioned Castillo's girlfriend or Tato, who are obvious witnesses. The department's spokesman, Eduardo Rodriguez, declined to comment because Yamil's death remains an open case. Meanwhile, Castillo is still grilling burgers for the Rolling Stove. His boss didn't fire him.
"[Castillo] has worked hard to turn his life around," Thomas insists. "He got into trouble when he was younger." But not anymore, the Rolling Stove mastermind asserts. Thomas says Castillo is so ashamed of his past that he wears long-sleeve shirts to hide his gang tattoos. "All he wants to do now is support his family," Thomas says. "He has never been late to work or called in sick or taken a dime from the register. In the United States, you are innocent until proven guilty."