Cleveland captor faces rape, kidnapping charges

Crime | Rachel Cooper

Cleveland captor faces rape, kidnapping charges

Ariel Castro appears in Cleveland Municipal court.
Associated Press/Photo by Tony Dejak

Ariel Castro, the man accused of holding three Cleveland women hostage for nearly a decade, was charged on Wednesday with three counts of rape and four counts of kidnapping. Castro, 52, a former school bus driver, did not speak when he appeared in court to hear the charges read. He bit his collar and signed documents with handcuffed hands while the judge set his bond for $8 million. 

Castro kept Gina DeJesus, Michelle Knight, and Amanda Berry in separate rooms, bound by ropes and chains, according to police. Officials also said Castro inflicted sexual and psychological abuse on his captives, who had several miscarriages during their imprisonment. Officials ordered a paternity test on Castro to determine whether he is the father of the 6-year-old said to be Berry’s daughter.

The child, along with the three grown women, made a miraculous escape Monday after Castro left the house. A neighbor heard Berry banging on the front door and screaming. After the man helped free her, Berry borrowed a neighbor’s phone to call police.

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Neighbors said they had no idea anything unusual was going on in Castro’s home. The women can remember going outside only two times during their 10-year captivity. They were in disguises and would walk to a garage a few steps away. They were 14, 16, and 20 years old when they were taken. Castro lured them into his car and took them to the dingy house where they stayed until this week.

A dispatcher radioed officers on Monday saying she had just spoken to a women who "says her name is Amanda Berry and that she had been kidnapped 10 years ago." On the recorded call, an officer responded, "This might be for real."

Hundreds of people welcomed home Berry, 27, and DeJesus, who is in her early 20s, on Wednesday with banners and balloons. Michelle Knight, 32, is at a Cleveland hospital in good condition. DeJesus’ father pumped his fist in the air when he brought his daughter home and her mother, Nancy Ruiz, said, "This is the best Mother's Day I could ever have."  

Castro has a history of domestic violence according to his wife’s father and brother. Grimilda Figueroa, Castro’s wife, filed for a protective order because he would often abduct her daughters and keep them from her. He is charged with breaking Figueroa’s nose twice, knocking out a tooth, dislocating her shoulder, and threatening to kill her and her daughters. Figueroa died in April 2012 from cancer. According to his brother-in-law, Castro would not let his wife go anywhere without him, did not allow her visitors, and kept her from picking her daughters up from school.

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