Ariel Castro, the convicted kidnapper who kept three women captive in his Cleveland home for a decade, has been found hanged in his prison cell. Castro had previously pleaded guilty to the charges against him to avoid the death penalty.
Prison officials at the Ohio Correctional Reception Center discovered Castro’s body hanging in his cell at 9:20 pm Tuesday local time (01:20 GMT Wednesday). After various attempts to revive him his body was transferred to The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead an hour later.
“Inmate Ariel Castro was found hanging in his cell this evening at 9:20 pm at the Correctional Reception Center in Orient. He was housed in protective custody which means he was in a cell by himself and rounds are required every 30 minutes at staggered intervals,” JoEllen Smith of the Ohio Department of Corrections said in a statement.
Castro pleaded guilty to 937 charges, including rape and murder in his August trial and in doing so escaped the death penalty. Judge Michael Russo sentenced Castro to life imprisonment plus 1,000 years for his crimes, declaring that there was no place in the world for his brand of criminal.
The 52-year-old former bus driver held Michelle Knight, 32, Gina DeJesus, 23, and Amanda Berry, 27, in his house in Cleveland for around a decade. He kept the women bound in chains and raped them. He also fathered Berry’s daughter, who was six years old at the time the women were rescued on May 6, 2013.
Despite pleading guilty to the charges against him, Castro insisted during his trial that he was not “a violent man.” He claimed that he had been sexually abused as a child and had become addicted to pornography and was a compulsive masturbator.
“I am not a monster. I am a normal person. I am just sick. I have an addiction just like an alcoholic has an addiction,” he said, claiming that he had not orchestrated the kidnapping and he acted on the spur of the moment. He said that he was very sorry for what he had done.
Michelle Knight, the only one of Castro’s victims to testify to the sentencing court, said to the hearing that Castro was a regular church-goer and used to come home after the services to torture the women.
“You will face hell for eternity,” she said at the sentencing. “I spent 11 years in hell. Now your hell is just beginning.”