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The Castro case: Missed opportunities

| Sunday, May 12, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Unless you're a regular at “sadomaso” parties, it's unlikely that you'll ever see a poor soul being led around naked on a leash.

Unlikely, that is, unless you were a neighbor of Ariel Castro.

“Neighbors of accused kidnapper Ariel Castro have revealed they saw three naked young girls crawling in the backyard of his house on all fours with dog leashes around their necks and three men controlling them, but amazingly police never responded to their call,” reported London's Daily Mail.

Two years ago, according to CNN, Nina Samoylicz, a neighbor living three doors down from Castro, reported to police that she and some friends saw a naked woman crawling on her hands and knees in Castro's backyard and attempted to talk to her but Castro intervened.

Samoylicz said the police didn't take her seriously when she called and that Castro erected tarps in his backyard a week later to block her view.

Another neighbor, Israel Lugo, living two houses from Castro, said he reported to police in November 2011 that his sister heard pounding from an upper floor of Castro's house and saw a woman and baby at a window half-blocked by a wooden plank.

The police responded by knocking on the front door but left when no one answered. “They walked to the side of the house and then left,” Lugo told USA Today.

Lugo also said his mother, Elsie Cintron, called the police about a year later to report that Castro was bringing an excessive number of bags full of McDonald's food to his house.

Again, the police responded but didn't enter the house.

In 2004, the police went to Castro's house responding to a report that he had left a child on his school bus at a depot. Again, the police didn't enter the house, found no criminal intent, and the issue was dropped.

A year later, Castro was accused of repeated acts of violence against his common-law wife, Grimilda Figueroa.

“A 2005 domestic-violence filing in Cuyahoga (County) Domestic Relations Court accused Castro of twice breaking the nose of his children's mother, knocking out a tooth, dislocating each shoulder and threatening to kill her and her daughters three or four times a year,” reported ABC News. “The filing for a protection order by Figueroa also stated that Castro frequently abducted her daughters and kept them from her.”

In less than three months, the court dismissed the protection order.

In an article by Jon Swaine in Cleveland for London's Telegraph, Figueroa's sister, Elida Caraballo, recounted the violent abuse by Castro.

“I would go over to the house and be knocking at the door, and she was there and he wasn't, and I'd say, ‘Open the door,' and she'd say, ‘I can't, he locked it,'” explained Caraballo. “He broke her nose, her ribs, her arms. She was put into a box. He locked her in and told her, ‘When you're ready to come out, I'll tell you to come out.'”

Figueroa fled Castro's house “following a particularly bad beating in 1996,” Swaine reported. “After helping her remove her possessions, police detained Castro, but charges were dropped.”

Figueroa died last year at age 48 from a brain tumor. She stated in her 2005 domestic abuse case that she had “a blood clot on the brain,” an “inoperable tumor,” caused by Castro's violence.

Ralph R. Reiland is an associate professor of economics at Robert Morris University and a local restaurateur (rrreiland@aol.com).

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