Ariel Castro charged with rape and kidnap in Ohio case
- 9 May 2013
- From the section US & Canada
Police in the US state of Ohio have charged a man with the kidnapping and rape of three women held captive for a decade at a house in Cleveland.
Ariel Castro, 52, owned the house from which Amanda Berry, 27, Gina DeJesus, 23, and Michelle Knight, 32, were rescued on Monday.
His brothers Pedro, 54, and Onil, 50, were arrested but police have said they will not be charged.
Police said earlier that the women had been bound with ropes and chains.
They said the women could only remember being outside twice during their time in captivity - and were then only allowed into the garage while in disguise.
Their discovery has gripped Cleveland, where they were widely believed to be dead.
The police have defended their actions over the previous decade, saying that they had nothing in the way of calls or complaints indicating that anything was amiss in the house on Seymour Avenue.
Brothers 'not involved'
In a news conference on Wednesday afternoon, authorities said Mr Castro would be charged with four counts of kidnapping, covering the three victims and Ms Berry's six-year-old daughter Jocelyn, alleged to have been born in captivity.
Mr Castro was also charged with three counts of rape - one against each woman.
Police told a news briefing in the city that more than 200 pieces of evidence had been taken from the home where the three women were held captive.
They said interviews with the women had yielded enough information to charge Ariel Castro, and that further charges could be added.
Police say Mr Castro has been co-operating with them, waiving his right to silence and agreeing to a test to establish Jocelyn's paternity.
But prosecutor Victor Perez said there was no evidence that his brothers, Pedro and Onil Castro - arrested along with him - "had any involvement in the commission of the crimes committed".
"Ariel kept everyone at a distance," added deputy police chief Ed Tomba.
He said the women were not held in one room, "but they did know each other and they did know each other was there".
A source close to the case told the BBC that while in captivity one of the women became pregnant many times and suffered multiple miscarriages.
Another woman became pregnant and was so badly beaten she lost the baby, the source added.
The source also said one woman was forced to help Ms Berry deliver her daughter and was threatened with death if the child did not survive.
Ms Knight remains in hospital, while the two others have been released to their families.
On Wednesday hundreds of people gathered around the DeJesus family home, cheering as 23-year-old Gina DeJesus was brought from hospital.
Ms DeJesus, wearing a bright yellow hooded shirt, was escorted into her home by a woman with her arm around her, giving the well wishers a brief wave.
'House always locked'
Members of her family later appealed to neighbours to help find a fourth missing girl, Ashley Summers, who has not been seen since 2007 when she was 14 years old.
"There are not enough words to say or express the joy that we feel for the return of our family member Gina, and now Amanda Berry, her daughter and Michelle Knight who is our family also," said Sandra Ruiz, Ms DeJesus' aunt, in a news conference outside their house.
Ashley's aunt Debra Summers said the FBI had been in touch with the family - adding that they were "hoping for our miracle too".
Ms Ruiz praised the FBI and Cleveland police for their long-time support, and asked neighbours not to retaliate against the Castro family.
Felix DeJesus, Ms DeJesus' father, said people needed to watch out for children in their neighbourhood, exhorting the community to "fix" the problem.
Ms Berry arrived at her sister's home shortly before midday on Wednesday, along with her daughter.
She disappeared in 2003 aged 16, but escaped on Monday with the help of a neighbour who heard her screaming and kicking a door while her alleged captor was out of the house.
When police arrived they also found Ms DeJesus and Ms Knight in the house.
Ms DeJesus had gone missing aged 14 in 2004, while Ms Knight had disappeared in 2002, aged 20.
Ariel Castro reportedly fled the neighbourhood and was arrested at a nearby McDonald's restaurant, according to local media.
His son, Anthony Castro, told London's Daily Mail newspaper that his father would not let him inside on his last visit to Seymour Avenue.
"The house was always locked," he said. "There were places we could never go. There were locks on the basement. Locks on the attic. Locks on the garage."
Meanwhile, there has been an online backlash against self-proclaimed psychic Sylvia Browne, who in 2004 told Ms Berry's mother, Louwana Miller, on TV her daughter was dead and that her last words had been "goodbye, mom, I love you".
Ms Miller died in 2006 of heart failure, aged 43.