Cleveland kidnapper Ariel Castro found dead in cell
Man who held three women captive for nearly a decade is believed to have taken his own life
Ariel Castro (right) listens to his attorney Craig Weintraub during Castro’s sentencing on kidnapping, rape and murder in Cleveland, Ohio August 1st. Photograph: Aaron Josefczyk/Reuters
A general view of the exterior of the house where three women who had disappeared as teenagers approximately ten years ago were found alive on May 7th in Cleveland, Ohio. Photograph: Bill Pugliano/Getty Images
Amanda Marie Berry (L) and Georgina Lynn Dejesus are pictured in this combination photograph in undated handout photos released by the FBI. Berry, missing since April 2003, when she was 16, and Dejesus, missing since April 2004, when she was 14, were found in Cleveland, Ohio May 6th, not far from where they were abducted. A third girl, Michelle Knight, was found at the same house. Photograph: FBI/Handout/Reuters
Castro, a former school bus driver, was sentenced to life in prison last month for the kidnapping, rape and beatings of three Cleveland women he held captive for years in his house. He was found dead in his Ohio prison cell late last night.
Castro, who was under protective custody and isolated from other inmates at the Correctional Reception Center in Orient was found hanged at about 9.20pm 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 1st to life plus 1,000 years in prison without the possibility of parole for abducting his three victims between 2002 and 2004 and keeping them imprisoned in the dungeon-like confines of his house, where they were starved, beaten and sexually assaulted for 10 years.
He pleaded guilty in July to a total of 937 offences, 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.
A deal with prosecutors spared Castro a possible death penalty for murder. 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.
Castro 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 the assistance of neighbours who heard Berry’s cries for help.
Rescued along with them was Berry’s 6-year-old daughter, fathered by Castro and born during her mother’s captivity.
Castro was both defiant and apologetic while showing no remorse in a rambling final statement he submitted to the court. While he said he was sorry for his actions, he insisted “I am not a monster.” “If you asked my daughter she would say, my dad is the best dad in the world,” Castro said.
Cuyahoga County Judge Michael Russo, describing Castro as suffering from “extreme narcissism,” said the crimes were so extreme that the former school bus driver should never emerge from prison.