PEABODY — A 43-year-old man was ordered held without bail today on charges that he murdered his 23-year-old girlfriend.

A not-guilty plea was entered on Franklin Castano’s behalf in Peabody District Court in the slaying of Solannly Paulino in Peabody. He also is charged with discharging a firearm within 500 feet of a dwelling.

According to the Essex district attorney’s office, Castano showed up Thursday morning at the Lynn police station, prompting a homicide investigation centering on an apartment at 50 Keys Drive in Peabody.

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A spokeswoman for the office declined Thursday to elaborate on what had transpired at the police station or whether Castano had confessed. Paulino’s family said they were told that Castano “gave himself up.”

Castano had a history of arrests for beating and threatening Paulino, and her family told the Globe Thursday that they had begged her to leave him. But he was obsessive and controlling, they said, and whenever she broke it off, he would harass her, following her until she took him back.

In one 2012 incident in Lynn, Castano was arrested for dragging Paulino by her hair and threatening to kill her with a machete and a butcher knife. Prosecutors tried to have him held without bail for being dangerous, prosecutors said.

Instead, a judge set bail at $500, which court documents show Paulino herself posted. All charges against Castano were ultimately dismissed, as was one assault charge against Paulino stemming from a 2010 fight.

“What worries me is people will hear this case and think, ‘Why didn’t she leave?’” said Anthony DiPietro, executive director of Healing Abuse Working for Change, an anti-domestic violence group based in Salem. “I think the most important answer to start with is: It’s not necessarily a choice when you have somebody you’re afraid of who you know is capable of being really dangerous.”

It usually takes between five and seven attempts to leave an abusive relationship, he said, and often the leaving is the most dangerous part.

“It actually increases the likelihood that things will get serious and escalate, and possibly result in a homicide,” said DiPietro, who came to the courthouse for Castano’s arraignment today.

Victims of domestic violence or their families can call HAWC’s 24-hour hotline at 1-800-547-1649 for advice and resources.