Ariel Castro, the man convicted of kidnapping three women, locking them up in his home in Cleveland for almost a decade, and repeatedly sexually assaulting them, committed suicide on Tuesday night in his Ohio prison cell.
The Ohio Department of Corrections released a statement saying that 53-year old Castro was found hanging in his cell at the Correctional Reception Center in the village of Orient at 9:20pm local time. Prison medical staff tried to resuscitate Castro before transferring him to The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center in Columbus. He was pronounced dead at 10:52pm.
Earlier this year Castro was sentenced to life imprisonment without parole plus 1,000 years for the kidnapping and sexual assault of Gina DeJesus, 23, Amanda Berry, 27, and Michelle Knight, 32, whom he held captive in a padlocked basement. He pleaded guilty to 937 charges relating to his treatment of the three women.
Bound with ropes and duct tape the girls were raped and abused over the course of year during their captivity. According to the police Castro forced Ms Knight to miscarry at least five times through starvation and abdominal beatings. During Ms Berry’s captivity he fathered a child, now a six-year old girl. He has been barred from ever seeing her.
During his sentencing he told the judge “I’m not a monster, I’m a normal person, I am just sick, I have an addiction. He likened it to alcoholism. He also added that he never planned to kidnap the girls but had acted on the spur of the moment.
Of the three girls involved only Michelle Knight appeared in court to speak out. I spent 11 years in hell. Now your hell is just beginning, she said. “You will face hell for eternity. From this moment on, I will not let you define me, or affect who I am. I will live on, you will die a little every day.
The girls were abducted between 2002 and 2004. Castro apparently lured one with the promise of a puppy and the other by inviting her in to meet his daughter. At the time DeJesus was 14, Berry 16 and Knight 20. It was 6 May 2013 when Amanda Berry managed to break down part of a door and scream for help from the neighbours. Castro was arrested that same day.
Because of the notoriety of his case Ariel Castro had been put in protective custody away from other inmates but was not placed on suicide watch. According to the Department of Corrections Castro was subject to checks every 30 minutes. Suicide watch means constant surveillance. Due to a deal made with prosecutors he was not given the death sentence but Judge Michael Russo did say to Castro that there was ‘no place in the world’ for people who enslave others.
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