Cleveland Kidnapping Suspects Face Arraignment - News - LawOfficer.com

Cleveland Kidnapping Suspects Face Arraignment

Ariel Castro charged with kidnapping and rape

 


 

MEGHAN BARR and THOMAS J. SHEERAN,Associated Press | Thursday, May 9, 2013

CLEVELAND (AP) — The man accused of raping and kidnapping three women, who were missing for about a decade before being found alive at his home, was ordered held Thursday on $8 million bail.

LawOfficer Cleveland Escape Coverage

Ariel Castro looked down at the ground for almost the entire arraignment hearing, biting his collar and signing documents with his handcuffed hands. He didn't speak.

The women found alive after a decade in captivity endured lonely, dark lives inside a dingy home where they were raped and allowed outside only a handful of times in disguises while walking to a garage steps away, investigators say. One of their young daughters was also freed from the house.

The 52-year-old former school bus driver has emerged as the lone suspect.

Assistant county prosecutor Brian Murphy said the women were beaten repeatedly and sexually assaulted. He said Castro used the women "in whatever self-gratifying, self-serving way he saw fit."

While many questions remain about how Castro maintained such tight control over the women for so many years before one of them made a daring escape Monday, the horrors they suffered are beginning to come to light.

Castro lured the women into his vehicle, according to court documents filed Thursday.

Castro's daughter, Arlene Castro, appeared on ABC's "Good Morning America" on Thursday. She tearfully described being embarrassed and devastated upon learning of her father's suspected role in her good friend Gina DeJesus' kidnapping. Arlene was walking home from school with DeJesus in April 2004 just before she disappeared.

"I would like to say I'm absolutely so, so sorry," she said. "I really want to see you Gina and I want you to meet my kids. I'm so sorry about everything."

Police say the women were apparently bound by ropes and chains at times and were kept in different rooms. They suffered prolonged sexual and psychological abuse and had miscarriages, according to a city councilman.

Castro has been 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.

Kathleen DeMetz, a public defender who represented Castro in court, said he would be transferred from a city jail medical unit — where defendants charged with sex crimes or considered a suicide risk are normally held. She said he would probably be under suicide watch while at the county jail.

Castro did not have a chance to talk to his two brothers, who were arrested and cleared without charges, DeMetz said.

The women and Castro have given lengthy statements to police that have helped build their case, said Deputy Police Chief Ed Tomba.

None of the women, though, gave them any indication that Castro's two brothers, who had been in custody since Monday, were involved, Tomba said. Prosecutors brought no charges against the brothers, citing a lack of evidence. The brothers appeared in court before Castro, on unrelated charges, and were in the process of being released.

Pedro Castro, 54, pleaded no contest to an open container charge while two charges against Onil Castro, 50, were dismissed.

"Ariel kept everyone at a distance," Tomba said.

One thing that remains a mystery, he said, is how the women were kept in the house so long.

"As far as the circumstances inside the home and the control he may have had over those girls ... I think that's going to take us a long time to figure that out," he said.

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.

At a news conference, authorities would not discuss the circumstances of their kidnapping and captivity.

City Councilman Brian Cummins earlier 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.

They never saw a chance to escape over the last 10 years until this week when Amanda Berry broke through a door and ran to freedom, alerting police who rescued the other two women while Castro was away from the house.

In newly released police audio tapes, a 911 dispatcher notifies officers on Monday that she's just spoken to a woman who "says her name is Amanda Berry and that she had been kidnapped 10 years ago."

An officer on the recorded call says, "This might be for real."

After police arrive at the house, women can be heard crying in the background. Then an officer tells the dispatcher: "We found 'em. We found 'em."

Tomba said of Berry, "Something must have clicked and she saw an opportunity and she took that opportunity."

He 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.

Also in the house was Berry's 6-year-old daughter. A paternity test on Castro was being done to establish whether he fathered the child.

While prosecutors announced charges against Castro, federal agents searched a vacant house near where the women had been held. Officials would only say their search was an attempt to get evidence in the case against Castro, but they refused to say what they found or what led them there.

Castro was in custody and couldn't be reached for comment. A brother-in-law has said the family was shocked after hearing about the women at the home.



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


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