Man who kidnapped three women and held them captive in his home for at least a decade, Ariel Castro has been found dead in his state prison cell.
On May 6, 2013, three women from Cleveland, Ohio – Amanda Berry, Georgina “Gina” DeJesus, and Michelle Knight – were rescued from captivity in a Cleveland house owned by their kidnapper, Ariel Castro. Knight had disappeared in 2002 at age 21, Berry in 2003 at age 16, and DeJesus in 2004 at age 14. A six-year-old daughter of Berry, fathered by Castro, was also rescued. The women were discovered after Berry escaped the house with her daughter and contacted police.
Castro, 53, was sentenced to life in prison plus 1,000 years without the possibility of parole last month for the kidnapping, rape and beatings of the three Cleveland women.
The three women were kidnapped between 2002 and 2004. Castro then kept them imprisoned in the dungeon-like confines of his house where they were starved, beaten and s*xually assaulted for 10 years.
In July he pleaded guilty to a total of 937 offenses, including kidnapping, r*pe, and aggravated murder, for the forcible miscarriage of one of his three victims.
Castro was found hanged at about 9:20pm last night when prison staff were making their rounds, Rehabilitation and Correction Department spokeswoman JoEllen Smith said.
Ohio Rehabilitation and Correction officials said convicted kidnapper Castro, 52, was found hanged in his prison cell at the Correctional Reception Centre in Orient, Ohio at about 9:20pm local time.
Prison medical staff performed CPR, and Castro was transported to the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Centre. He was pronounced dead at 10:52pm.
Officials say he committed suicide and his lawyers have pointed out that they had unsuccessfully tried tried to have him put under psychological examination before he was handed over to state authorities.
Castro was recently sentenced to life in prison plus 1000 years for holding three women – Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michele Knight – captive for more than a decade and repeatedly r*ping them.
The three women disappeared between 2002 and 2004. They escaped on May 6, when one of them yelled to neighbours for help.
The sister of former hostage Gina DeJesus said her family was not making a statement regarding Castro’s death, but called it a “sad situation”.
Castro was isolated from other prison inmates for his own protection.
Ohio Department of Correction spokeswoman JoEllen Smith said Castro “was in a cell by himself and rounds are required every 30 minutes at staggered intervals”. He was reportedly on suicide watch.
“Upon finding inmate Castro, prison medical staff began performing life saving measures. Shortly after he was transported to OSUMC where he was pronounced dead at 10:52pm,” Smith said in a statement.
“A thorough review of this incident is under way and more information can be provided as it becomes available pending the status of the investigation.”
Castro’s lawyers tried unsuccessfully to have a psychological examination of Castro done at the Cuyahoga County Jail, where Castro was housed before he was turned over to state authorities following his conviction, attorney Jaye Schlachet told The Associated Press. Schlachet said he could not immediately comment further.
In an interview last month after Castro’s conviction, Schlachet and attorney Craig Weintraub said their client clearly fitted the profile of sociopathic disorder and that they hoped researchers would study him for clues that could be used to stop other predators.
At his sentencing hearing on August 1, Castro had insisted he was not evil but rather addicted to sex.
“I’m not a monster. I’m sick,” he pleaded.
Despite having pleaded guilty to 977 charges related to his victims’ brutal decade-long ordeal, including many r*pes and the murder of a foetus through beating its mother, Castro said he was not a violent man.
Castro said he had himself been s*xually abused as a child and had grown up obsessed with s*x, addicted to p*rnography and a compulsive masturbator.
He said he had not plotted the three kidnaps, but had acted on impulse.
“I am not a monster. I am a normal person. I am just sick. I have an addiction just like an alcoholic has an addiction,” he said.