US & Canada

Ohio authorities: Ariel Castro is girl's father

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Media captionThe BBC visits Lorain Avenue in Cleveland to find out how the missing girls cases impacted a community

Ariel Castro, the man accused of holding three women hostage for about a decade in Ohio, fathered a child who was also rescued from his house, US authorities have confirmed.

He has been charged with the kidnap and rape of Amanda Berry, 27, Gina DeJesus, 23 and Michelle Knight, 32.

A DNA test proved Ms Berry's six-year-old daughter, born in captivity, was his child, investigators said.

The four were rescued on Monday when Ms Berry escaped and raised the alarm.

Meanwhile, on Friday Ms Knight returned home from hospital, the last of the three to do so.

Ohio prosecutors have said they plan to seek aggravated murder charges that could carry the death penalty against Mr Castro, 52. The charges relate to alleged forced miscarriages.

'Torture chamber'

On Thursday, Cuyahoga County prosecutor Tim McGinty said the murder charges were based on evidence from Ms Knight that Mr Castro had impregnated her, then physically abused and starved her to induce five miscarriages while she was being held captive.

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Media captionLillian Castro: "My son is sick and I have nothing to do with what my son did"

"This child kidnapper operated a torture chamber and private prison in the heart of our city," Mr McGinty said.

Earlier that day, Mr Castro had appeared in court in Cleveland, but did not enter a plea.

He is charged with four counts of kidnapping, covering the three initial abduction victims and the young girl, named Jocelyn, who was apparently conceived and born in captivity.

The former school bus driver also faces three counts of rape, one against each woman.

Bail was set at $8m (£5.1m), meaning he will remain in custody.

He has been placed on suicide watch and will be kept in isolation, his court-appointed lawyer Kathleen DeMetz told reporters.

According to CBS News, Mr Castro confessed to his crimes in a long, hand-written letter found in the house, which investigators believe may have been intended as a suicide note.

In the 2004-dated letter, he said he had been raped as a child by a relative, a law enforcement source told the US network.

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Media captionProsecutor Brian Murphy: "Mr Castro stands before you a captive"

Mr Castro reportedly called himself a "sexual predator", but he also asked to donate all his money to his victims after his death.

Ariel Castro's two brothers, Pedro and Onil, also appeared in court on unrelated minor charges. They had been arrested, but police found no evidence linking them to the crime.

The three women were all abducted after accepting rides from Mr Castro, according to a leaked police report.

They told officials they could only remember being outside twice during their time in captivity.

Cleveland City Councilman Brian Cummins said the women had told police they had only gone as far as a garage on the property, disguised in wigs and hats.

Mr Cummins, citing police information, said the victims had been kept apart inside the house until their captor felt he had enough control to allow them to mingle.

Ms Berry, whose disappearance in 2003 the day before her 17th birthday was widely publicised in the local media, returned to her sister's home on Wednesday.

A few hours later, Gina DeJesus, who went missing in 2004 at the age of 14, was also brought home.