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Ohio missing women case: Ariel Castro charged with kidnap, rape

May 8, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
Kidnapping and rape charges were filed Wednesday against a man arrested after three women missing for about a decade were found alive at his Cleveland home.

Homeowner Ariel Castro, 52, was charged with four counts of kidnapping and three counts of rape. He was scheduled to be arraigned Thursday morning.

His brothers, 54-year-old Pedro and 50-year-old Onil Castro, were not charged. Prosecutors said there was no evidence they had any part in the crime.

Chains, locks and rope were found inside the home where the three women were held captive. Cleveland police told ABC News that officials have not yet confirmed if and how the materials were used. Investigators said padlocks were also found on the doors leading to the basement, attic and garage of the house. Police say the three women didn't go outside the home for 10 years except twice.

"They left the house and went into the garage in disguise, so those were the two times they were mentioned or they can recall," said Dep. Chief Ed Tomba of the Cleveland Police Department.

FBI investigators have finished searching the home, and will now question the freed women and the three brothers.

Police say Amanda Berry, 27, Michelle Knight, 32, and Gina DeJesus, 23, were held at the house in a residential area just a few miles from where they disappeared. Investigators said they were held against their will since going missing between 2002 and 2004.

The three women were subjected to prolonged sexual and psychological abuse and suffered miscarriages, Councilman Brian Cummins said Wednesday. He said that many details remain unclear, including the exact number of pregnancies and the conditions under which the miscarriages occurred. The councilman also said the women were kept in the basement for some time without having access to the rest of the house.

According to Cleveland ABC affiliate WEWS-TV, Ariel Castro captured the women by offering to give them rides home.

The report also said Knight told law enforcement she was repeatedly raped by Castro. Knight said he impregnated her five time and that he would punch her in the stomach to cause miscarriages.

While in captivity, Berry delivered her baby, 6-year-old Jocelyn, in a plastic pool in the house. Knight said Berry almost died during labor, but then Knight performed mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

According to WEWS, the little girl had never seen a doctor before her rescue.

The three women, as well as the girl, broke free from the home on Monday evening and were taken to an area hospital. DeJesus and Berry were released from the hospital Wednesday and reunited with their families. Knight was reported in good condition at Metro Health Medical Center. Authorities say a paternity test was going to be conducted to determine whether Castro was the father.

Berry arrived at her sister's home Wednesday morning to the cheers of hundreds of neighbors and swarms of journalists. Shortly after, her sister Beth Serrano thanked everyone for their effort and support over the years, adding, "please respect our privacy until we are ready to make our statement, and thank you."

Investigators say Ariel Castro had been friends with DeJesus' family, and he even helped pass out missing person fliers for her when she disappeared in 2004. When neighbors gathered for a candlelight vigil just last year, Castro was there too, comforting the girl's mother.

Tuesday, Cleveland police said there was no record of anyone calling about criminal activity at Castro's house. However, since then, neighbors have been speaking out. One says she called police several years ago after seeing a naked woman crawling in the backyard.

In 2011, another neighbor called police after hearing pounding on some of the doors of Castro's house.

Both neighbors say police looked around but never went inside the home where the three women were eventually found. The FBI is now investigating those claims.

The man who helped rescue Berry, Charles Ramsey, has become an online sensation.

Interview clips from Ramsey have been auto-tuned, posted on Facebook and Twitter, and are gaining popularity on YouTube.

Ramsey heard Berry in the house, kicked in the door and pulled her to safety. He appeared on "Good Morning America" on Wednesday and talked about how it feels to be called a hero. He said he just did what he had to do.

All three women were abducted separately between 2002 and 2004. Berry vanished in 2003 when she was 16 while on her way home from her job at Burger King.

DeJesus, then 14, disappeared the following year while walking home from school. Knight vanished in 2002 when she was 20 years old.

In 2008, Ariel Castro was stopped at a gas station for driving a motorcycle without a helmet or proper registration. The police officer let him go when Castro said he was a school bus driver.

The Associated Press and ABC News contributed to this report.


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