Cleveland Kidnap Suspect Charged with Rapes, Abductions

Cleveland victims reportedly raped, tortured and forced to have abortions.

May 8, 2013, 10:35 AM

May 8, 2013 — -- Inside the dungeon-like basement of alleged kidnapper Ariel Castro, the Cleveland man reportedly raped his three victims for a decade, caused one woman to abort five pregnancies by punching her in the gut, and required a second victim to deliver his baby in a plastic kiddie pool.

The women, individually abducted a decade ago, were kept bound by chains in the home's cellar until their "spirits were broken" and they were allowed access to the rest of the house, a police official told ABC News.

A decade of torment ended on Monday when the women escaped, and charges today were brought against Castro, 52, including four counts of kidnapping and three counts of rape, prosecutors said.

Castro's two brothers, Onil Castro, 50, and Pedro Castro, 54, who were arrested with him, were not charged, officials said.

"There is nothing that leads us to believe that they were involved or they had any knowledge of this," Cleveland Police Deputy Chief Ed Tomba told reporters.

Ariel Castro is expected to be arraigned in a county court on Thursday. Following a grand jury hearing, Castro may face additional charges, Cleveland Chief Assistant Prosecutor Victor Perez said.

All three women -- Michelle Knight, 32, Gina DeJesus, 23, and Amanda Berry, 27 -- were abducted within miles of each other between 2002 and 2004.

In each case, Castro stopped the then-girls on the street and offered them a ride. In the case of Gina DeJesus, a friend of his daughter's whom he allegedly abducted in 2004, he promised to bring the girl home to see her classmate.

Instead, he brought all three women to 2007 Seymour Ave. in Cleveland, where they were believed chained, raped and not permitted to leave the home for a decade, according to ABC News affiliate WEWS-TV, citing a law enforcement source.

Knight, Castro's first alleged kidnapping victim, told police she was impregnated five times by Castro, WEWS reported. In each case, she reportedly was made to abort the fetus when he punched her in the belly.

Berry, however, delivered her tormentor's apparent child six years ago, the law enforcement source told WEWS. The little girl, named Jocelyn, was rescued with her mother and the other women.

Police said they were conducting a paternity test and were not yet certain the baby was fathered by Castro.

Knight helped deliver Berry's child in a plastic kiddie pool, a source told WEWS. Castro told Knight if Berry's baby died, so would she. At one point, the source said, baby Jocelyn stopped breathing, but Knight gave her mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, saving the girl's life.

Only DeJesus told investigators she did not believe she ever became pregnant despite repeated rapes, WEWS reported.

Police said Castro is cooperating. He was read his Miranda rights, but chose to waive them and has provided police with a "detailed statement," Deputy Chief Tomba told reporters.

Chains, locks and lengths of rope were discovered inside the Cleveland home on Seymour Avenue, police said.

The women said they only remembered being outside the house twice in 10 years and only very briefly, police told reporters. Investigators said there was no evidence to support claims that the women had been seen in the backyard, naked and in chains.

Berry finally tried to escape the home on Monday, when Castro left a heavy door unlocked but kept a screen door latched, WEWS reported.

"For whatever reason, something must have clicked and she saw an opportunity and she took that opportunity," Tomba said.

Berry began screaming for help through the door when she saw a neighbor next door. That man, Charles Ramsey, helped kick open the door, freeing the women and the little girl.

Neighbors described Ariel Castro as friendly, often seen outside tinkering with cars and even attending vigils for the missing girls. Family members and court documents depicted the suspect in a different light.

Castro was violent, according to family members of his late wife, Grimilda Figueroa. Speaking on condition of anonymity, a family member called him "a monster."

Ariel Castro "was nice when he was outside, but behind closed doors he was an animal, two-faced. He had done terrible things to [Grimilda] and treated her like trash," the source said.

Castro, a fired school bus driver, was arrested in 1993 on a domestic violence charge that was later dropped.

All four victims were taken to a hospital on Monday for examination.

Today, Berry and DeJesus were reunited with their families as cheering crowds greeted their returns. Only Michelle Knight remained at Metro Medical center, but was in "good condition."

"We appreciate all you've done for us for past 10 years," Berry's sister, Beth Serrano, told the media gathered outside her home. "We are elated."

Police said said witness questioning has not turned up a connection between Castro and Ashley Summers, another teen who vanished in the same neighborhood in 2007.

"There is no new information that's come to light about her," Tomba said. "Ashley Summers is an active, open investigation."

The women, Cleveland Police Chief Michael McGrath said, are currently "doing very well under these circumstances."

"It really is amazing," he said. "It has to be a tribute to the girls, to be perfectly honest with you. They must be some really, really strong individuals."

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