News

Cleveland kidnapper commits suicide

Cleveland kidnapper commits suicide

Ariel Castro, 53, sits in the courtroom during his sentencing for kidnapping, rape and murder in Cleveland, Ohio in this August 1, 2013 file photo. Photo: Reuters/Aaron Josefczyk/Files

By Kim Palmer

CLEVELAND (Reuters) – Ariel Castro, sentenced to life in prison for the kidnapping, rape and beatings of three Cleveland women he held captive for years in his house, was found hanged in his Ohio prison cell late on Tuesday, a state corrections official said.

The former school bus driver, who was under protective custody and isolated from other inmates at the Correctional Reception Center in Orient, was found dead at about 9:20 p.m. when prison staff were making their rounds, Rehabilitation and Correction Department spokeswoman JoEllen Smith said.

After prison medical personnel tried to resuscitate him, Castro, 53, was transferred to an area hospital and pronounced dead about 90 minutes later, she said.

Castro was sentenced on August 1 to life plus 1,000 years in prison without the possibility of parole for abducting his three victims and keeping them imprisoned in the dungeon-like confines of his house, where they were starved, beaten and sexually assaulted for about a decade.

He was taken into custody just after the three women he held captive – Amanda Berry, 27, Gina DeJesus, 23, and Michelle Knight, 32 – were freed from the house with assistance from neighbors who heard Berry’s cries for help and came to her aid.

Rescued along with them was Berry’s 6-year-old daughter, fathered by Castro and born during her mother’s captivity.

Capping one of the most sensational U.S. crime stories in recent memory, Americans were elated by news that the three women had been found alive and freed but were stunned by the circumstances of their ordeal.

Castro pleaded guilty in July to a total of 937 offenses, including kidnapping, rape, felonious assault and a charge of aggravated murder under a fetal homicide law for the forcible miscarriage of one of his three victims.

His plea deal with prosecutors spared Castro a possible death penalty for murder.

SUICIDE NOTE

Castro had been incarcerated since August 5 at the Correctional Reception Center, a prison processing facility outside Columbus, the state capital, about 150 miles southeast of Cleveland.

He was to remain there while undergoing a series of mental and physical evaluations before being transferred to a more permanent lockup, prison officials said.

“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,” Smith added.

Cuyahoga County prosecutor Tim McGinty acknowledged after Castro’s sentencing that a suicide note and confession written by Castro was found by authorities at his residence when they searched his home following his arrest in May.

But McGinty dismissed the letter as an attempt of Castro, whom he described as a “narcissist”, to feel sorry for himself and to place blame on his victims.

The house where the three women were held, bound with chains and ropes for periods of time, has since been torn down along with two homes on adjacent lots.

A longtime bus driver for Cleveland public schools until he was fired in 2012 after a series of disciplinary actions against him, Castro had kidnapped each of his victims by luring them into his car with offers of a ride.

The three vanished without a trace between 2002 and 2004 – two of them as teenagers – and were rescued on May 6, 11 years after the first of them disappeared.

At his sentencing, Castro apologized for his actions but also sought to blame his behavior on a sexual obsession and his own history of being abused as a child, declaring: “I am not a monster.”

Confronting Castro in court during that proceeding, Knight told him: “I spent 11 years of hell. Now your hell is just beginning.”

(Writing by Steve Gorman; Editing by Alison Williams)

Recent Headlines

2 hours ago in Local

Below Normal Run Off Expected in the Missouri River Basin

Fresh
Missouri River Mulberry Bend 60111

The Corps of Engineers says runoff in the Missouri River Basin above Sioux City, Iowa, was two point six million acre feet during April, eighty nine percent of average.

3 hours ago in Local

Building the Future at SDSU

SDSU Swine Unit Ground Breaking

The physical outline of the campus at South Dakota State University has changed quite a bit in the last few years.

3 hours ago in Local

SD School Districts Working with New Funding Formula

teacher1

Schools across South Dakota are adapting to a new funding formula passed by this year’s legislature.

18 hours ago in Local

Fortenberry Gives a Lukewarm Endorsement

Trump SC 102815

A lukewarm endorsement at best as Nebraska Congressman Jeff Fortenberry reacts to the swift change of events

18 hours ago in Local

“Gun” Cell Phone Cases Banned in Minnesota

The Minnesota Senate unanimously passed a bill banning sale or possession of cell phone cases that look like guns