Ariel Castro charged with kidnapping, rape of three Cleveland women

By Christine Hauser and Steven Yaccino
The New Denver post

The Cleveland city prosecutor, Victor Perez, announced the charges against Ariel Castro, 52, at a news conference late Wednesday afternoon.

Ariel Castro, 52, is charged with four counts of kidnapping — covering all three captives and the daughter born to one of them while she was held — and three counts of rape.
Ariel Castro, 52, is charged with four counts of kidnapping — covering all three captives and the daughter born to one of them while she was held — and three counts of rape.

Earlier in the day, two of the women, Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus, each arrived at a family home for the first time since their disappearance about a decade ago. The third abducted woman, Michelle Night, who vanished at age 20 in 2002, remained

Ariel Castro, 52, is charged with four counts of kidnapping — covering all three captives and the daughter born to one of them while she was held — and three counts of rape.

in good condition Wednesday at the city’s Metro Health Medical Center, according to a hospital spokeswoman.

The years of captivity ended late Monday when Berry, who had not been seen since she left her job at a local Burger King on April 21, 2003, when she was 17, appeared at the front door of 2207 Seymour Ave., where the police said she and the other women were held. Accompanied by a young child as she tried to flee, she screamed: “I need help! I need help! I have been kidnapped for 10 years!” before fleeing with the help of neighbors.

On Wednesday, Berry’s sister’s home, about a 10-minute drive from the Seymour Avenue residence, was decorated with balloons, yellow ribbons and posters welcoming her back as crowds gathered across the street, as directed by the police, to await her return. Before noon, a motorcade escorted by police motorcycles pulled up to the home, and several people hurried into the residence, with at least one person holding a child.

Berry, whose mother died when she was captive, was inside the house briefly before her sister, Beth Serrano, stepped outside and spoke to a crush of reporters, saying Amanda and her daughter were home and wanted to “thank the public and media for their support.”

Appearing to fight tears, she also requested privacy for her sister, her niece and herself as they recover and before they could make a further statement.

At the home of DeJesus, crowds cheered as the young woman arrived home, amid a large police presence. The crowd chanted “Gina! Gina!” as she walked into the house with her face covered, while friends and relatives hugged in the front yard. Clusters of balloons filled the yard.

Her aunt, Sandra Ruiz, made a brief statement to reporters outside the home. She thanked the authorities and the community for their help.

“Thank you again for your prayers and support,” Ruiz said. “There are not enough words to say or express the joy that we feel for the return of our family member Gina.”

At the news conference, the authorities said they now think that Castro’s brothers, Pedro, 54, and Onil, 50, who were arrested after two neighbors freed Berry, were unaware that the women were being held in their brother’s home.

After two neighbors freed Berry by kicking in the chained front door and helped her make an urgent call to 911, the three Castro brothers were arrested.
As authorities continued investigating, more details trickled out about what the women endured throughout their captivity. Chief Michael McGrath of the Cleveland police, told the “Today” show Wednesday that the women had been tied up inside the house and that investigators had found ropes and chains.

McGrath, asked about the reports that the women were physically bound, said, “We have confirmed that. We have confirmation that they were bound, and there were chains and ropes in the home.”

But he said the investigators would have a better understanding of how often they were restrained when the interviews were completed Wednesday. He also said they were “very rarely” allowed outside or “released out in the backyard once in a while, I believe.”

A law enforcement source who is familiar with the investigation said that authorities had recovered more than 200 items from the house, including various types of bondage materials. The source insisted on anonymity because of the continuing investigation.

Another law enforcement source, who also did not want to be identified because the source was not authorized to speak about the investigation, said that the three women had been sexually abused and that at least initially, they were kept in separate rooms.

A working theory, the source said, is that the women “just dealt with Ariel” and not the other brothers. The source added that authorities are working to find out whether Ariel Castro, who knew DeJesus because she was a close friend of his daughter Arlene, also knew Berry and Knight.

In the Seymour Avenue neighborhood, people searched their memories over the years as they tried to understand how the women could have been held there undetected so long. One neighbor had noticed occasional late-night deliveries of groceries to the boarded-up shoe box of a house where the women were kept, in a rough-edged West Side Cleveland neighborhood.

Another neighbor remarked on a porch light that burned at night, even though many of the windows were covered.

“Why would an abandoned house have a porch light on?” he recalled thinking.

Still another said his sister had once seen a figure in an upstairs window, pounding on the glass.

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