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Ohio man who held 3 women captive found hanged

By Andrew Welsh-Huggins

AP Legal Affairs Writer

LAST UPDATED: 09:09 a.m. HST, Sep 04, 2013

COLUMBUS, Ohio » The Cleveland man serving a life sentence for holding three women captive in his home for a decade hanged himself in his prison cell with a bedsheet, officials said today in another shocking twist in the case that transfixed and appalled the city.

Ariel Castro, 53, was found hanging Tuesday night at the state prison in Orient, said JoEllen Smith, a spokeswoman for the corrections system. Prison medical staff performed CPR before Castro was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

"He took the coward's way out," said Elsie Cintron, a neighbor who lived up the street from the former school bus driver. "We're sad to hear that he's dead, but at the same time, we're happy he's gone, and now we know he can't ask for an appeal or try for one if he's acting like he's crazy."

Through a spokeswoman, his three victims declined to comment.

Castro was sentenced Aug. 1 to life in prison plus 1,000 years after pleading guilty to 937 counts, including kidnapping and rape, in a deal to avoid the death penalty. At his sentencing, he told the judge: "I'm not a monster. I'm sick."

A scornful Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Tim McGinty said: "This man couldn't take, for even a month, a small portion of what he had dished out for more than a decade."

Castro had been in a cell by himself in protective custody because of his notoriety, meaning he was checked every 30 minutes, but was not on a suicide watch, which entails constant supervision, Smith said. She said Castro used a bedsheet.

An autopsy showed the death was suicide by hanging, said Dr. Jan Gorniak, Franklin County coroner.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio asked the prison system to conduct a full investigation.

Castro's captives -- Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight -- disappeared separately between 2002 and 2004, when they were 14, 16 and 20 years old.

They were rescued from Castro's run-down house in a tough Cleveland neighborhood on May 6 when Berry broke out a screen door and yelled to neighbors.

Elation over the women's rescue turned to shock as details emerged about their captivity. Castro fathered a child with Berry while she was being held. The girl was 6 when she was freed.

Investigators also disclosed that the women were bound with chains, repeatedly raped and deprived of food and bathroom facilities. Knight told authorities that Castro impregnated her repeatedly and made her miscarry by starving her and punching her in the belly. Berry was forced to give birth in a plastic kiddie pool.

On Castro's old street today, freshly planted landscaping was in bloom on the site where his house stood before it was demolished by the city a month ago. Satellite TV trucks returned to record the scene.

Castro's suicide "does give a little bit of closure to the families and people that got affected by what he did," resident Jessica Burchett said, "but at the same time he deserved to be in there for his life because of what he did to those girls."

No one answered the door at the home of Castro's mother and brother.

His lawyers tried unsuccessfully to have a psychological examination of Castro done in jail before he was turned over to state authorities following his guilty plea, his attorney, Jaye Schlachet, said today. Schlachet would not comment further.

Members of the Guardian Angels volunteer patrol group stationed themselves in their red berets outside DeJesus' home and said her family didn't want to be bothered as the community absorbed the news.

"I ask the community to continue to respect the privacy of the survivors so that they can move forward with their lives," Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson said in a statement.

The prison where Castro hanged himself, a so-called reception center for newly arrived inmates, is filled with nearly twice the 900 prisoners it was meant to hold, according to state data.

Stress is high and assaults are up at the prison, but Tim Shafer, an official with the guards' union, said: "Just like out in the public, suicides happen, and you just can't prevent every one of them."

Castro was watched closely in the Cuyahoga County Jail in the several weeks between his arrest and his guilty plea, with logs noting his activity every 10 minutes. He was taken off the suicide watch in June after authorities concluded he was not a suicide risk.

In an interview last month, Castro's lawyers said that their client clearly fit the profile of someone with a sociopathic disorder and that they hoped researchers would study him for clues that could be used to stop other predators.

Associated Press writers Thomas J. Sheeran in Cleveland and Kantele Franko in Columbus contributed to this report.

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Skyler wrote:
Good for him.
on September 3,2013 | 06:47PM
Grimbold wrote:
He has finally done the right thing. I wish him well in the beyond. A good criminal. I wished more were like him.
on September 4,2013 | 12:04AM
mikethenovice wrote:
There are no winners in a criminal act.
on September 4,2013 | 05:09AM
lowtone123 wrote:
He took the easy way out that coward.
on September 4,2013 | 08:57AM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
2 EZ
on September 3,2013 | 06:59PM
volcanohereicome wrote:
Oh, well, no great loss.
on September 3,2013 | 07:01PM
residenttaxpayer wrote:
Saved the taxpayers a lot of money......goodbye and good riddance.....
on September 3,2013 | 07:01PM
cojef wrote:
It's always about money, isn't it. ????
on September 4,2013 | 08:00AM
Dbung wrote:
Wow! The ladies lasted 10 years in his perverted prison and he couldn't last a few months.
on September 3,2013 | 07:13PM
whatzupwitdat wrote:
COWARD! He should've done this 10 years ago!
on September 3,2013 | 07:41PM
mikethenovice wrote:
He should have made closure with the victims by saying sorry at least.
on September 4,2013 | 05:10AM
ricekidd wrote:
well folks! I guess we all have to pay the Piper... Some of US believe he got off easy...but he paid his due... remember you Suicide, you repeat it over and over and over....Forever. You repeat your own suicide again and again... WOW if you don't call that living Hell than what do you call it...? What goes around comes around...
on September 3,2013 | 07:46PM
RKC808 wrote:
Have fun in Hell.
on September 3,2013 | 07:54PM
Bothrops wrote:
Saved us some money
on September 3,2013 | 07:59PM
serious wrote:
Yes, it cost Florida $6,000,000 to convict and house Ted Bundy through years of appeals.
on September 4,2013 | 02:42AM
aomohoa wrote:
Good, he belongs it hell and it will save the taxpayers a lot of money. Now those poor women know he can never hurt anyone again.
on September 3,2013 | 07:59PM
Bdpapa wrote:
Good, let him rot in hell!
on September 3,2013 | 08:08PM
scooters wrote:
YES! Sure saved the public lots of money. Good riddance!!!!
on September 3,2013 | 08:08PM
primowarrior wrote:
He probably had done to him in prison what he did to those girls. The difference was, those girls were strong and survived.
on September 3,2013 | 08:31PM
2localgirl wrote:
No loss to humanity but a lost soul never the less. I hope that he had recently found the Lord Jesus in his heart before his demise. The women forgave him. A waste of a life.....I pray he was forgiven....
on September 3,2013 | 10:15PM
iwanaknow wrote:
Justice denied.
on September 3,2013 | 10:20PM
WalkoffBalk wrote:
He could have been used for testing new medical drugs. I don't think he would become superhuman from the drugs like in b-movies.
on September 3,2013 | 11:07PM
LMO wrote:
I don't believe it was suicide.
on September 4,2013 | 01:50AM
mikethenovice wrote:
We all have to make choices in life.
on September 4,2013 | 05:08AM
salsacoquibx wrote:
From a thousand years to 1 month in prison..seems like Castro had the last laugh..no justice indeed
on September 4,2013 | 05:34AM
TMJ wrote:
He got off easy.
on September 4,2013 | 06:35AM
krusha wrote:
Dude took the easy way out. Too bad he couldn't suffer like he made his victims suffer. Guys like this are the real demons of society instead of the imaginary ones described in holy books.
on September 4,2013 | 06:41AM
cojef wrote:
Ho hum, another pervert bites the dust.
on September 4,2013 | 08:05AM
joseph007 wrote:
couldn't happen to a nicer fellow. saves the taxpayer money.
on September 4,2013 | 08:09AM
false wrote:
Heaven or hell nonsense. This guy might be dancing with 99 virgins. We will never know.
on September 4,2013 | 08:24AM
Mei mei wrote:
he is paying his sentence in a very well deserved place - at least tax payers don't have to foot the bill to keep him alive for the remainder of his life....
on September 4,2013 | 10:13AM
DABLACK wrote:
Did he have "Help" to hang himself ??????? Just curious !!
on September 4,2013 | 10:14AM
redneckMT wrote:
I would have helped him.
on September 4,2013 | 10:25AM
redneckMT wrote:
Let the ACLU of Ohio pay for the investigation.
on September 4,2013 | 10:26AM
Jonas wrote:
He deserved worse, but we don't hand out penalties that would have been sufficient for the pain and suffering he caused those girls. In the end, death is exactly the desired end result. I don't know why we cater to criminals. Personally, I would've thrown a bunch of rope in his cell and made sure he had a strong support bar in the roof above him.
on September 4,2013 | 11:08AM
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