Ohio Suspect's Brothers: Hope He 'Rots In Jail' - WSPA.com

Ohio Suspect's Brothers: Hope He 'Rots In Jail'

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House where 3 missing women; Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus, and Michelle Knight where found alive. House where 3 missing women; Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus, and Michelle Knight where found alive.
Amanda Berry on FBI handout Amanda Berry on FBI handout
Gina DeJesus on FBI handout Gina DeJesus on FBI handout
CLEVELAND, OH -

Monday, May 13, 2013

The two brothers of the Cleveland man accused of holding three women captive for about a decade say they have no sympathy for him. One called him a "monster" who he hopes "rots in jail."

Onil and Pedro Castro told CNN that they want Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight to know how sorry they are for their ordeal.

The brothers were initially taken into custody but released after investigators said there was no evidence against them. Brother Ariel Castro has been charged with rape and kidnapping and is being held on $8 million bond.

Pedro Castro says he was shocked to learn DeJesus was a victim, because they'd known her father for a long time and Ariel even went to a vigil for her when she went missing.

Friday, May 10, 2013

The man accused of holding three women captive for a decade in his home terrorized the mother of his children, frequently beating her, playing twisted psychological games and locking her indoors in the years before their relationship disintegrated, her relatives say.

Several relatives of Grimilda Figueroa, who left Ariel Castro years ago and died last year after a long illness, painted a nightmarish portrait of Castro's family life as authorities made public horrifying details of the abuse endured by the imprisoned women.

In interviews with The Associated Press on Thursday, the relatives described Castro as a "monster" who abused his wife and locked his family inside their own home. Their views were at odds with those of some of Castro's family and a neighbor, who knew the former school bus driver only as a happy and respectful man.

Figueroa's relatives said Castro savagely beat her, pushing her down a flight of stairs, breaking her nose and dislocating her shoulder, among other injuries. Her sister, Elida Caraballo, said Castro once shoved Figueroa into a cardboard box and closed the flaps over her head.

"He told her, 'You stay there until I tell you to get out,'" said Caraballo, who cried as she recounted her late sister's torment. "That's when I got scared and I ran downstairs to get my parents."

Castro, to frighten his wife, kept a mannequin wearing a dark wig propped up against a wall and sometimes drove around the neighborhood with it, relatives said.

"He threatened me lots of times with it," said Angel Caraballo, Castro's nephew, who used to play with his cousins at the house where the kidnapped women were found. "He would say, 'Act up again, you'll be in that back room with the mannequin.'"

One day, Figueroa was returning home with her arms full of groceries when Castro jumped into the doorway with the mannequin, frightening her so badly that she fell backward and smashed her head on the pavement, Elida Caraballo said.

Prosecutors said Thursday they may seek the death penalty against Castro as police charged that he impregnated one of his captives at least five times and made her miscarry by starving her and punching her in the stomach. The allegations were contained in a police report that also said another one of the women, Amanda Berry, was forced to give birth in a plastic kiddie pool.

Cuyahoga County prosecutor Timothy McGinty said his office will decide whether to bring aggravated murder charges, punishable by death, in connection with the pregnancies that were terminated by force. McGinty said Castro will be charged for every act of sexual violence, assault and other crimes committed against the women, suggesting the counts could number in the hundreds, if not thousands.

Castro, 52, is being held on $8 million bail under a suicide watch in jail, where he is charged with rape and kidnapping.

"Capital punishment must be reserved for those crimes that are truly the worst examples of human conduct," McGinty said. "The reality is we still have brutal criminals in our midst who have no respect for the rule of law or human life."

A sample of Castro's DNA was delivered to state crime investigators Thursday afternoon and tests confirmed that he is the father of a 6-year-old girl rescued from his house, Attorney General Mike DeWine said in a statement Friday.

Officials also were entering the DNA profile into a national database to see if it links him to other crimes. The profile didn't match any other Ohio cases, but national results were pending as of Friday morning, DeWine said.

The three women said Castro chained them up in the basement but eventually let them live on the home's second floor. Each woman told a similar story about being abducted after accepting a ride from him.

Berry, now 27, told officers that she was forced to give birth in a plastic pool in the house so it would be easier to clean up. Berry said none of the women - or the 6-year-old - went to a doctor during their captivity.

Michelle Knight, now 32, said her five pregnancies ended after Castro starved her for at least two weeks and "repeatedly punched her in the stomach until she miscarried." She also said Castro forced her to deliver Berry's baby under threat of death if the baby died. When the newborn stopped breathing, Knight said, she revived her through mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

During his brief arraignment Thursday, Castro tried to hide his face, tucking his chin inside his shirt collar. He appeared to close his eyes during the hearing and awkwardly signed documents while handcuffed. He did not speak or enter a plea.

In court, prosecutor Brian Murphy said Castro used the women "in whatever self-gratifying, self-serving way he saw fit."

Kathleen DeMetz, a public defender assigned to represent him at the hearing, didn't comment on his guilt or innocence or object when prosecutors recommended that bail be set at $5 million. The judge, instead, ordered Castro held on $8 million bail.

Castro was arrested Monday, when Berry broke out of his run-down house and called 911 while he was away. Police found the two other women inside. The women had vanished separately between 2002 and 2004, when they 14, 16 and 20.

Police then entered the house and found the other women, who flung themselves into the officers' arms.

Berry and former captive Gina DeJesus, 22, went home with relatives Wednesday. Knight was reported in good condition at a Cleveland hospital.

Castro's two brothers, who were arrested with him but later cleared of involvement in the case, appeared in court on unrelated charges Thursday and were released.

Figueroa's relatives said Castro often forced her to remain inside her home and forbade her from using the telephone. After warning her not to leave, he would test her to see if she obeyed, Caraballo said.

Some relatives of Castro have said they were shocked by the allegations against him. An uncle, Julio Castro, said it's been difficult news to absorb.

"Of course we have taken it hard," he said. "We only knew one Ariel, my sweet nephew. He was a sweet, happy person, a musician. We didn't have the slightest idea of the second person in him."

Juan Perez, who lives two doors down from Castro, said Castro was always happy and respectful. "He gained trust with the kids and with the parents. You can only do that if you're nice," Perez said.

On a recent visit to Castro's rundown home, his friend Ricky Sanchez said he heard noises "like banging on a wall" and noticed four or five locks on the outside door. While he was there, a little girl came out from the kitchen and stared at him. But she didn't say anything.

"When I was about to leave, I tried to open the door," he said. "I couldn't even, because there were so many locks in there."

Relatives say that in 1996, Figueroa finally left Castro after he hit her for the last time. After one particularly bad beating, Figueroa ran outside with one of her sons, crying out to neighbors just as the captive women did.

"The neighbors went across the street to get her," Elida Caraballo said. "And that was the last time she ever stepped in the house."

Thursday, May 9, 2013 

Cleveland man arraigned on rape, kidnap charges

A Cleveland man has been arraigned on charges of rape and kidnapping days after three women missing for about a decade were found alive at his home.

Ariel Castro appeared in court Thursday morning. He looked down at the ground while lawyers spoke to the judge. Bond was set at $2 million on each case.

Police say they've talked with both Castro, who is a former school bus driver, and the three women at length in building their case.

While they're not revealing many details, police do say the women were kept inside Castro's house for all but a few brief minutes over the last 10 years.

The three women disappeared separately between 2002 and 2004 and were found Monday after one of them screamed for help to escape and contacted police. 

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Ohio man charged with kidnap, rape as women found

Authorities have filed kidnapping and rape charges against a Cleveland man arrested after three women missing for about a decade were found alive at his home.

Homeowner Ariel Castro was charged Wednesday. Brothers Pedro and Onil Castro are held but face no charges right now.

The men are in custody and can't be reached for comment. Their brother-in-law has said the family is "totally shocked" after hearing about the women at the home.

The three women disappeared separately between 2002 and 2004 and were found Monday after one of them screamed for help to escape and contacted police.

Police say ropes and chains were among evidence collected inside the house. A city councilman says the women were subjected to prolonged sexual and psychological abuse and suffered miscarriages.

Suspect in Ohio helped neighbors look for missing

In the years after his friend's daughter vanished while walking home from school, Ariel Castro handed out fliers with the 14-year-old's photo and performed music at a fundraiser held in her honor.

When neighbors gathered for a candlelight vigil just a year ago to remember the girl, Castro was there too, comforting the girl's mother.

Castro, just like everyone else in the tight-knit, mostly Puerto Rican neighborhood, seemed shaken by the 2004 disappearance of Gina DeJesus and another teenager who went missing the year before.

Now he and his brothers are in custody after a frantic 911 call led police to his run-down house, where authorities say DeJesus and two other women missing for about a decade were held captive.

Authorities have until Wednesday evening to bring charges against the men.

Amanda Berry, 27, Michelle Knight, 32, and DeJesus, about 23, had apparently been held captive in the house since their teens or early 20s, police said.

Berry went to her sister's home Wednesday morning. Shortly after, her sister Beth Serrano thanked everyone for their effort and support over the years, adding "please respect our privacy until we are ready to make our statement, and thank you."

As word of Berry's homecoming spread, a large crowd swelled in the street outside the home decorated with dozens of balloons, and homemade signs, one reading "We Never Lost Hope Mandy."

A 6-year-old girl believed to be Berry's daughter also was found in the home Monday, police Deputy Chief Ed Tomba said. He wouldn't say who the father was.

About a week ago, Castro took the 6-year-old girl to a nearby park, where they played in the grass, said Israel Lugo, a neighbor who lives down the street. "I asked him whose kid was it, and he told me his girlfriend's daughter," Lugo said.

The women were reunited with joyous family members but remained in seclusion Tuesday. They were rescued after Berry kicked out the bottom portion of a locked screen door and used a neighbor's telephone to call 911. An officer showed up minutes later and Berry ran out and threw her arms around the officer, a neighbor said.

Police identified the other two suspects as the 52-year-old Castro's brothers, Pedro Castro, 54, and Onil Castro, 50. Calls to the jail went unanswered, and there was no response to interview requests sent to police, the jail and city officials.

A relative of the three brothers said their family was "totally shocked" after hearing about the missing women being found at the home.

Juan Alicea said the arrests of his wife's brothers had left relatives "as blind sided as anyone else" in their community. He said he hadn't been to the home of his brother-in-law Ariel Castro since the early 1990s but had eaten dinner with Castro at a different brother's house shortly before the arrests were made Monday.

Police would not say how the women were taken captive or whether they were sexually assaulted. Police spokesman Sammy Morris confirmed on Wednesday that the ropes and chains were among evidence collected inside the house by law enforcement officials.

Police Chief Michael McGrath told NBC's "Today" show on Wednesday that the women were restrained and "released out in the back yard once in a while."

McGrath said he was "absolutely" sure police did everything they could to find the women over the years. He disputed claims by neighbors that officers had been called to the house before for suspicious circumstances. "We have no record of those calls coming in over the past 10 years," he said.

Investigators also are talking with relatives of at least one other missing woman from the neighborhood.

The aunt of a 14-year-old girl who disappeared in 2007 near the house where the missing women were found says the girl's mother has spoken with the FBI about her niece.

"We're hoping for our miracle too," said Debra Summers, who described her niece, Ashley Summers, as not the type of girl who would leave without coming back.

Ariel Castro owned the home where the three girls were found in a neighborhood dotted with boarded-up houses just south of downtown.

His son, Anthony Castro, said in an interview with London's Daily Mail newspaper that he now speaks with his father just a few times a year and seldom visited his house. He said on his last visit, two weeks ago, his father wouldn't let him inside.

"The house was always locked," he said. "There were places we could never go. There were locks on the basement. Locks on the attic. Locks on the garage."

Anthony Castro, who lives in Columbus, also wrote an article for a community newspaper in Cleveland about the disappearance of Gina DeJesus just weeks after she went missing, when he was a college journalism student.

"That I wrote about this nearly 10 years ago - to find out that it is now so close to my family - it's unspeakable," he told The Plain Dealer newspaper.

Most everyone in the neighborhood knew Ariel Castro.

Neighbors say he played bass guitar in salsa and merengue bands and gave neighborhood children rides on his motorcycle.

Tito DeJesus, an uncle of Gina DeJesus, played in bands with Castro over the last 20 years. He recalled visiting Castro's house but never noticing anything out of the ordinary.

Juan Perez, who lives two doors down from the house, said Castro was always happy and respectful. "He gained trust with the kids and with the parents. You can only do that if you're nice," Perez said.

Castro also worked until recently as a school bus driver.

He was friends with the father of Gina DeJesus, one of the missing women, and helped search for her after she disappeared, said Khalid Samad, a friend of the family.

"When we went out to look for Gina, he helped pass out fliers," said Samad, a community activist who was at the hospital with DeJesus and her family on Monday night. "You know, he was friends with the family."

Antony Quiros said he was at the vigil about a year ago and saw Castro comforting Gina DeJesus' mother.

One neighbor, Francisco Cruz, said he was with Castro the day investigators dug up a yard looking for the girls.

Castro told Cruz, "They're not going to find anyone there," Cruz recalled.

Cleveland officials said an internal review of police communications records found that officers went to the house twice since 2000 on unrelated calls.

"Media reports of multiple calls to the Cleveland Police reporting suspicious activity and the mistreatment of women at 2207 Seymour are false," city spokeswoman Maureen Harper said in a statement.

Two neighbors said they called police to the Castro house on separate occasions.

Elsie Cintron, who lives three houses away, said her daughter saw a naked woman crawling in the backyard several years ago and called police. "But they didn't take it seriously," she said.

Another neighbor, Israel Lugo, said he heard pounding on some of the doors of the house in November 2011. Lugo said officers knocked on the front door, but no one answered. "They walked to side of the house and then left," he said.

"Everyone in the neighborhood did what they had to do," said Lupe Collins, who is close to relatives of the women. "The police didn't do their job."

Police did go to the house twice in the past 15 years, but not in connection with the women's disappearance, officials said.

Michelle Knight's mother, Barbara Knight, told the "Today" show that she hasn't seen her daughter yet, but hopes she knows she loves and missed her. She said they had a tense relationship before Michelle's disappearance and at the time thought her daughter maybe just didn't want to see her family anymore. She said Michelle Knight's child had been removed from the home just before her disappearance, and thought perhaps she had vanished because she was upset about "the baby."

"I know she's probably angry at the world because she probably thought she'd never be found," she said.

Knight added that she hopes their past tension can heal, and she wants to take her daughter back to Florida, where she now lives.

In 1993, Castro was arrested two days after Christmas on a domestic-violence charge and spent three days in jail before he was released on bond. The case was presented to a grand jury, but no indictment was returned, according to court documents, which don't detail the allegations. It's unclear who brought the charge against Castro, who was living at the home from which the women escaped Monday.

Four years ago, in another poverty-stricken part of town, police were heavily criticized following the discovery of 11 women's bodies in the home and backyard of Anthony Sowell, who was later convicted of murder and sentenced to death.

The families of Sowell's victims accused police of failing to properly investigate the disappearances because most of the women were addicted to drugs and poor. For months, the stench of death hung over the house, but it was blamed on a sausage factory next door.

Following public outrage over the killings, a panel formed by the mayor recommended an overhaul of the city's handling of missing-person and sex crime investigations.

Many of the women's loved ones and friends had held out hope of seeing them again,

For years, Berry's mother kept her room exactly as it was, said Tina Miller, a cousin. When magazines addressed to Berry arrived, they were piled in the room alongside presents for birthdays and Christmases she missed. Berry's mother died in 2006.

Just over a month ago, Miller attended a vigil marking the 10th anniversary of Berry's disappearance.

Over the past decade or so, investigators twice dug up backyards looking for Berry and continued to receive tips about her and DeJesus every few months, even in recent years. The disappearance of the two girls was profiled on TV's "America's Most Wanted" in 2005. Few leads ever came in about Knight.

Knight vanished at age 20 in 2002. Berry disappeared at 16 in 2003, when she called her sister to say she was getting a ride home from her job at a Burger King. About a year later, DeJesus vanished.

Jessica Aponce, 24, said she walked home with DeJesus the day the teenager disappeared.

"She called her mom and told her mom she was on her way home and that's the last time I seen her," Aponce said. "I just can't wait to see her. I'm just so happy she's alive. It's been so many years that everybody thinking she was dead."

The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children's CEO, John Ryan, said Berry, DeJesus and Knight likely would be honored by his group.

"I think they're going to be at the top of the list," he said.

Charges Possible Wednesday In OH Kidnappings

Charges could be filed today against the three men Cleveland Police say held three women captive for a decade.

 

Ariel Castro and his brothers are in jail but haven't been charged in the missing-persons case. They could appear in court as early as Wednesday morning.

A 911 call led police to his house near downtown Cleveland where the three women, who disappeared over several years, were found Monday.

Police in Cleveland are facing questions about their handling of missing-person cases, with the discovery of three women held captive for years in a house in the city.One neighbor says a few years ago a naked woman was crawling on her hands and knees in the backyard of the house.And another neighbor heard pounding on the home's doors, and plastic bags covered the windows. Neighbors say both times police showed up but never went inside.

Captive's uncle says saw nothing unusual

An uncle of one of the three women held captive for years in a Cleveland house, says over the years he's played in bands with Ariel Castro, one of the men accused of holding Gina DeJesus and two others.

Tito DeJesus says he had even visited inside the house where the women were held, but says he never noticed anything out of the ordinary.

Police have not said how the women were hidden or whether they were kept in restraints.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Families celebrate return of three women missing for years

The sign outside a Cleveland home reads, "Welcome Home Gina."
 
It's the home of the parents of Gina DeJesus, one of the three women who'd been missing for about a decade and were found yesterday in a home in downtown Cleveland. Police say they'd apparently been held captive in the house since they disappeared. Three brothers, including the owner of the home, are under arrest.
 
Police say the 6-year-old girl who was also found in the home is believed to be the daughter of Amanda Berry, one of the three women who'd been missing.
 
An aunt of Gina DeJesus says the women all showed great strength to survive in the years since they disappeared. Sandra Ruiz spoke after visiting with all three women.
 
They've been released from a hospital, and taken to an undisclosed location in the Cleveland suburbs.
 
Meanwhile, there are reports that police may have missed some earlier opportunities to find the three missing women. Neighbors of the house where the women were found say police were called twice in recent years to investigate suspicious activity there. One man says he heard pounding on doors at the house. Another neighbor says her daughter once saw a naked woman crawling on her hands and knees in the backyard.

Ohio woman missing for decade has daughter

A Cleveland police official says a 6-year-old girl found in the house where three missing women were kept for years is the daughter of one of them.

A frantic 911 call led police to a house near downtown Cleveland, where the three women were found Monday.

Police say Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight were held inside the house since they were in their teens or early 20s.

Cleveland police Deputy Chief Ed Tomba says the girl is believed to be Amanda Berry's daughter.

Knight disappeared in 2002, Berry in 2003 and DeJesus about a year after that.

Officials say three brothers, ages 50 to 54, are in custody.

Police: No complaints about house where 3 women were kept
 
Cleveland officials say they have no records of anyone calling about criminal activity at the house where three kidnapped women were kept for years before being found.
 
Police said Tuesday they went to the home in 2004 for an unrelated investigation but no one answered the door.
 
Missing women released from hospital
 
The three women who disappeared a decade ago in Cleveland and were found alive are out of the hospital.
 
Metro Health Medical Center says all three were released Tuesday morning.

Key events in Ohio missing women case

Three women who disappeared in Cleveland a decade ago were found safe Monday, and police arrested three brothers accused of holding the victims against their will. A timeline of key events in the case:
 
- Aug. 23, 2002: Michelle Knight, 20, vanishes. She was last seen at a cousin's house near Lorain Avenue and West 106th Street.
 
- April 21, 2003: Amanda Berry, 16, disappears after leaving her job at a Burger King at the corner of Lorain Avenue and West 110th Street, a few blocks from her home.
 
- January 2004: Police go to Ariel Castro's home at 2207 Seymour Ave., about 3 miles from where Knight and Berry were last seen. No one answers the door. Child welfare officials had alerted police that Castro, a school bus driver, apparently left a child unattended on a bus. Police later spoke to Castro and determined there was no criminal intent.
 
- April 2, 2004: Georgina "Gina" DeJesus, 14, disappears while walking home from school. She was last seen at a telephone booth at the corner of Lorain Avenue and 105th Street.
 
- March 2, 2006: Berry's mother, Louwana Miller, 43, dies after being hospitalized with pancreatitis and other ailments. She had spent the previous three years looking for her daughter.
 
- May 6, 2013: Knight, Berry, DeJesus and a 6-year-old girl believed to be Berry's daughter are found at Castro's home. Police arrest three brothers, Ariel Castro, Pedro Castro and Onil Castro, in connection with the women's disappearances.

3 missing women found in Ohio, 3 brothers arrested

A neighbor says a woman who'd been missing for a decade was nervous, crying and appeared dressed in pajamas and old sandals as she escaped a Cleveland home where she said she'd been held captive.

Anna Tejeda says she was sitting on her porch with friends Monday when they heard someone kicking a door across the street and yelling for help. Tejeda speaks Spanish, so a friend translated her comments to The Associated Press.

She said the pleading woman, Amanda Berry, eventually kicked out the door's screen to escape and call police.

Two more women who separately went missing about a decade ago were found alive, and police arrested three brothers.

The police chief said he thinks the women were tied up at the house and held there for years.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

A former Cleveland school bus driver suspected of keeping three women captive for the past decade is scheduled to make his first court appearance later this morning.

Ariel Castro is charged with kidnapping and rape.

Police say they've talked with both Castro and the three women at length in building their case.

While they're not revealing many details, police do say the women were kept inside Castro's house for all but a brief few minutes over the last 10 years.

Police say what remains a mystery is how the women were kept in the house so long.

They got out of the house Monday when one made a daring escape out of a screen door and called 911.

 

Cleveland man arraigned on rape, kidnap charges

A Cleveland man has been arraigned on charges of rape and kidnapping days after three women missing for about a decade were found alive at his home.

Ariel Castro appeared in court Thursday morning. He looked down at the ground while lawyers spoke to the judge. Bond was set at $2 million on each case.

Police say they've talked with both Castro, who is a former school bus driver, and the three women at length in building their case.

While they're not revealing many details, police do say the women were kept inside Castro's house for all but a few brief minutes over the last 10 years.

The three women disappeared separately between 2002 and 2004 and were found Monday after one of them screamed for help to escape and contacted police.

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