The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

September 4, 2013

Kidnapper Ariel Castro found hanged in jail cell, officials say

Ariel Castro, the man who had been sentenced to spend his life in prison for holding three Cleveland women captive for a roughly decade, was found hanged in his cell Tuesday night, Ohio officials said.

Castro, 53, was found hanging at 9:20 p.m. at the Ohio Correctional Reception Center in Orient, according to the Ohio Department of Corrections. Prison medical staff began performing life saving measures and Castro was transported to a hospital where he was pronounced dead at 10:52 p.m.

Castro was sentenced Aug. 1 to life in prison plus 1,000 years on his guilty plea to 937 counts including kidnapping and rape. He had been housed in protective custody in a cell by himself and rounds are required every 30 minutes at staggered intervals, a corrections department statement said.

“A thorough review of this incident is under way,” officials said.

The three women disappeared separately between 2002 and 2004. They escaped May 6, when one of them broke part of a door and yelled to neighbors for help. Castro was arrested that evening.

Justice was swift for Castro after Amanda Berry, Gina De Jesus and Michelle Knight were rescued by neighbors. Berry gave birth to a daughter, now 6, fathered by Castro while she was held in brutal conditions in his home, which was later demolished.

Castro gave a lengthy farewell at his sentencing a few weeks ago in a rambling speech and claimed the abuse included consensual sex.

During court hearings, officers told of how the women were chained to poles in the basement or to a bedroom heater. One woman was forced to wear a motorcycle helmet while chained in the basement and, after she tried to escape, had a vacuum cord wrapped around her neck, officials said.

Castro repeatedly starved and beat Knight each time she was pregnant, forcing her to miscarry five times, authorities said. Castro also forced Knight to safely deliver on Christmas Day 2006 the child he fathered with Berry. That same day, prosecutors said, Castro raped Knight yet again.

Knight, the only one of his victims to ultimately face him in court, would not forgive Castro saying that he “tormented me constantly, especially on holidays.”

“I spent 11 years in hell,” Knight told Castro at his sentencing. “Now your hell is just beginning. I will overcome all that happened, but you’re going to face hell for eternity.

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