Quantcast
  

Wednesday, April 23, 2014         

 Print   Email   Comment | View 4 Comments   Most Popular   Save   Post   Retweet

Ohio man's ex-relatives say he is a 'monster'

By Meghan Barr

Associated Press

POSTED:
LAST UPDATED: 10:52 a.m. HST, May 10, 2013


CLEVELAND » The man accused of holding three women captive for a decade in his home terrorized the mother of his children, frequently beating her, playing twisted psychological games and locking her indoors, her relatives say.

Several relatives of Grimilda Figueroa, who left Ariel Castro years ago and died last year after a long illness, painted a nightmarish portrait of life with Castro as authorities made public horrifying details of the abuse endured by the imprisoned women.

In interviews with The Associated Press on Thursday, the relatives described Castro as a "monster" who abused his wife and locked his family inside their own home. Their views were at odds with those of some of Castro's family and a neighbor, who knew the former school bus driver only as a happy and respectful man.

Figueroa's relatives said Castro savagely beat her, pushing her down a flight of stairs, breaking her nose and dislocating her shoulder, among other injuries. Her sister, Elida Caraballo, said Castro once shoved Figueroa into a cardboard box and closed the flaps over her head.

"He told her, 'You stay there until I tell you to get out,'" said Caraballo, who cried as she recounted her sister's torment. "That's when I got scared and I ran downstairs to get my parents."

Castro, to frighten his wife, kept a mannequin wearing a dark wig propped up against a wall and sometimes drove around the neighborhood with it, relatives said.

"He threatened me lots of times with it," said Angel Caraballo, Castro's nephew, who used to play with his cousins at the house where the kidnapped women were found. "He would say, 'Act up again, you'll be in that back room with the mannequin.'"

One day, Figueroa was returning home with her arms full of groceries when Castro jumped into the doorway with the mannequin, frightening her so badly that she fell backward and smashed her head on the pavement, Elida Caraballo said.

Prosecutors said Thursday they may seek the death penalty against Castro as a police report alleged that he impregnated one of his captives at least five times and made her miscarry by starving her and punching her in the stomach.

The police report that also said another one of the women, Amanda Berry, was forced to give birth in a plastic kiddie pool.

Cuyahoga County prosecutor Timothy McGinty said his office will decide whether to bring aggravated murder charges punishable by death in connection with the pregnancies that were terminated by force. McGinty said Castro will be charged for every act of sexual violence, assault and other crimes committed against the women, suggesting the counts could number in the hundreds, if not thousands.

Castro, 52, is being held on $8 million bail under a suicide watch in jail, where he is charged with rape and kidnapping.

"Capital punishment must be reserved for those crimes that are truly the worst examples of human conduct," McGinty said. "The reality is we still have brutal criminals in our midst who have no respect for the rule of law or human life."

Tests on a sample of Castro's DNA confirmed that he is the father of Berry's 6-year-old daughter, who was rescued from his house, authorities said today. Officials also were entering the DNA profile into a national database to see if it links him to other crimes.

The three women said Castro chained them up in the basement but eventually let them live on the home's second floor. Each woman told a similar story about being abducted after accepting a ride from him.

Berry, now 27, told officers that she was forced to give birth in a plastic pool in the house so it would be easier to clean up. Berry said none of the women — or her daughter — went to a doctor during their captivity.

Michelle Knight, now 32, said her five pregnancies ended after Castro starved her for at least two weeks and "repeatedly punched her in the stomach until she miscarried." She also said Castro forced her to deliver Berry's baby under threat of death if the baby died. When the newborn stopped breathing, Knight said, she revived her through mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

The FBI has not recovered human remains in its search of the house, spokeswoman Vicki Anderson said today. Agents have removed more than 200 pieces of evidence, she added, declining to say what was found.

Berry and former captive Gina DeJesus, 22, went home with relatives Wednesday. Knight was released from a Cleveland hospital today.

A statement issued today by MetroHealth Medical Center on behalf of Knight said she was in good spirits and grateful for the Cleveland Courage Fund created to aid the victims. Knight also asked that her privacy be respected.

A missing-person report on Knight filed one day after she disappeared in 2002 said without elaboration that she had a mental condition and was often confused about her surroundings.

Knight was removed from a national missing persons database in 2003 after Cleveland police couldn't locate anyone to confirm whether she was still missing, based on police policy in such cases, the department said today.

"Despite this, Cleveland police kept Michelle Knight's missing person's case open and checked on the case numerous times," the city said today. Police checked on the case as recently as November, the city said.

Some relatives of Castro have said they were shocked by the allegations against him. An uncle, Julio Castro, said it's been difficult news to absorb.

"Of course we have taken it hard," he said. "We only knew one Ariel, my sweet nephew. He was a sweet, happy person, a musician. We didn't have the slightest idea of the second person in him."

Juan Perez, who lives two doors down from Castro, said Castro was always happy and respectful. "He gained trust with the kids and with the parents. You can only do that if you're nice," Perez said.

Associated Press writers Thomas J. Sheeran, Mike Householder, Andrew Welsh-Huggins and John Coyne in Cleveland; Brendan Farrington in Florida; and Dan Sewell in Cincinnati contributed to this report along with news researcher Rhonda Shafner in New York.







 Print   Email   Comment | View 4 Comments   Most Popular   Save   Post   Retweet

COMMENTS
(4)
You must be subscribed to participate in discussions
By participating in online discussions you acknowledge that you have agreed to the TERMS OF SERVICE. An insightful discussion of ideas and viewpoints is encouraged, but comments must be civil and in good taste, with no personal attacks. Because only subscribers are allowed to comment, we have your personal information and are able to contact you. If your comments are inappropriate, you may receive a warning, and if you persist with such comments you may be banned from posting. To report comments that you believe do not follow our guidelines, email commentfeedback@staradvertiser.com.
Leave a comment

Please login to leave a comment.
aomohoa wrote:
"He gained trust with the kids and with the parents. You can only do that if you're nice," Perez said. The Perez person is naive. This is how serial killers get their victims, by being "nice." I would like to hear more about the other two men. You can't tell me they are not accessories to this crime, at least. Were they living in the house? Who are they?
on May 10,2013 | 09:55AM
cojef wrote:
According to other news sources, the two brothers had not frquented the home in which the victims were held. Aril confessed and indicated that his brothers had no knowledge of the kidnappings and rapes, exonerating them. Could be the confession was a ploy to mislead and protect them. At this point, I too am suspicious of the 2 brothers, but have wait until all facts are known.
on May 10,2013 | 10:29AM
Ratrase wrote:
Get a rope, find a big tree.....
on May 10,2013 | 12:20PM
patk wrote:
Nice people: either genuinely nice or really evil people. Not much middle ground.
on May 10,2013 | 02:17PM
IN OTHER NEWS
Breaking News