Ohio man charged with rape, kidnapping
CLEVELAND — A Cleveland man suspected of keeping three women captive inside his decrepit house for a decade was charged on Wednesday with kidnapping and rape, accused of holding them under conditions so oppressive that they were allowed outside for only a few moments in disguise and never saw a chance to escape until this week.
Investigators said the women apparently were bound with ropes and chains, and a city councilman briefed on the case said they were subjected to prolonged sexual and psychological abuse and suffered miscarriages.
Ariel Castro, a 52-year-old former school bus driver, was charged with four counts of kidnapping — covering the captives and the daughter born to one of them — and three counts of rape, against all three women.
The women, now in their 20s and 30s, vanished separately between 2002 and 2004. At the time, they were 14, 16 and 20 years old.
Prosecutors brought no charges against Castro's two brothers, who were arrested along with him on Monday, saying there was no evidence they had any part in the crimes.
Castro owns the run-down home where the women were rescued on Monday, after one of them broke through a screen door to freedom while Castro was away. The discovery electrified Cleveland, where many people had come to believe the missing young women were dead.
Deputy Police Chief Ed Tomba said it was the only opportunity they ever had to escape. “Something must have clicked, and she saw an opportunity and she took that opportunity,” he said.
Tomba said the women could remember being outside only twice during their entire time in captivity. “We were told they left the house and went into the garage in disguise,” he said.
The women were not kept in the same room but knew about one another, he said.
He said a paternity test on Castro was being done to establish who fathered the now 6-year-old child of former captive Amanda Berry.
At a news conference, authorities would not discuss the circumstances of their kidnapping or give further details about the women's ordeal. But City Councilman Brian Cummins said: “We know that the victims have confirmed miscarriages, but with who, how many and what conditions we don't know.”
“It sounds pretty gruesome,” he added.
Castro was in custody and couldn't be reached for comment. A brother-in-law has said the family was shocked on hearing about the women at the home.
Neighbors said that over the years, Castro took part in the search for one of the women, Gina DeJesus, helped pass out fliers, performed music at a fundraiser for her and attended a candlelight vigil, where he comforted her mother.
None of the women said anything that indicated Castro's brothers, Pedro, 54, and Onil, 50, were involved, Tomba said. “Ariel kept everyone at a distance,” he said.
A court hearing for Castro was set for Thursday morning.
The deputy chief said there was no evidence to indicate any of the women had been outside without clothes, despite claims from a neighbor who said a naked woman was seen crawling around the backyard.
Cleveland police have disputed claims by neighbors that officers had been called to the house before for suspicious circumstances. They said nothing in their records supports that.
Earlier Wednesday, Berry, 27, and DeJesus, who is in her early 20s, were welcomed home by jubilant crowds of loved ones and neighbors with balloons and banners. Family members protectively took them inside, past hundreds of reporters and onlookers.
Neither woman spoke.
“Give us time and privacy to heal,” said Sandra Ruiz, DeJesus' aunt. Ruiz urged the public not to retaliate against the Castros or their families.
DeJesus' father pumped his fist after arriving home with his daughter, and urged people across the country to watch over the children in their neighborhoods — including other people's kids.
“Too many kids these days come up missing, and we always ask this question: How come I didn't see what happened to that kid? Why? Because we chose not to,” he said.
The third captive, Michelle Knight, 32, was reported in good condition at Metro Health Medical Center, which a day earlier had reported that all three victims had been released. There was no immediate explanation from the hospital.
Castro also was questioned about 14-year-old Ashley Summers, who disappeared near his house in 2007. But Tomba said there was no new information linking that case to Castro.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- A bipartisan push on toxic chemicals makes some Democrats fume
- Gun used by agent who helped jail Capone headed to museum
- 7 shot at Florida spring-break house party
- Mysteries of dark matter come to light in Science study
- Global warming is slowing down the circulation of the oceans — with potentially dire consequences
- Republican presidential hopefuls near-unanimity on the issue of their own guns
- Attorneys: Sterilizations were part of plea deal talks
- Burgettstown man charged with murder escapes psychiatric hospital
- Sen. Reid follows same old script for Democrats as he endorses Schumer as successor
- Pentagon shielded Chilean torture, slaying suspect
- Run from Cuba, Americans cling to claims for seized property