Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Breaking News

May 10, 2013

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

CLEVELAND (AP) — The man accused of holding three women captive for a decade in his Cleveland home terrorized the mother of his children, frequently beating her, playing twisted psychological games and locking her indoors in the years before their relationship disintegrated, her relatives say.

Several relatives of Grimilda Figueroa, who left Ariel Castro years ago and died after a long illness last year, painted a nightmarish portrait of Castro's family life 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 late sister's torment. "That's when I got scared and I ran downstairs to get my parents."

Prosecutors said Thursday they may seek the death penalty against Castro as police charged that he impregnated one of his captives at least five times and made her miscarry by starving her and punching her in the belly. The allegations were contained in a 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."

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 that none of the women — or her 6-year-old child — had ever been 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.

During his brief arraignment Thursday, Castro tried to hide his face, tucking his chin inside his shirt collar. He appeared to close his eyes during the hearing and awkwardly signed documents while handcuffed. He did not speak or enter a plea.

In court, prosecutor Brian Murphy said Castro used the women "in whatever self-gratifying, self-serving way he saw fit."

Kathleen DeMetz, a public defender assigned to represent him at the hearing, didn't comment on his guilt or innocence or object when prosecutors recommended that bail be set at $5 million. The judge, instead, ordered Castro held on $8 million bail.

Castro was arrested Monday, when Berry broke out of his run-down house and called 911 while he was away. Police found the two other women inside. The women had vanished separately between 2002 and 2004, when they 14, 16 and 20.

Police then entered the house and found the other women, who flung themselves into the officers' arms.

Berry and former captive Gina DeJesus, 22, went home with relatives on Wednesday. Knight was reported in good condition at a Cleveland hospital.

Castro's two brothers, who were arrested with him but later cleared of involvement in the case, appeared in court on unrelated charges Thursday and were released.

Figueroa's relatives said Castro often forced her to remain inside her home and forbade her from using the telephone. After warning her not to leave, he would test her to see if she obeyed, Caraballo 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.

On a recent visit to Castro's rundown home, his friend Ricky Sanchez said he heard noises "like banging on a wall" and noticed four or five locks on the outside door. While he was there, a little girl came out from the kitchen and stared at him. But she didn't say anything.

"When I was about to leave, I tried to open the door," he said. "I couldn't even, because there were so many locks in there."

Relatives say that in 1996, Figueroa finally left Castro after he hit her for the last time. After one particularly bad beating, Figueroa ran outside with one of her sons, crying out to neighbors just as the captive women did.

"The neighbors went across the street to get her," Elida Caraballo said. "And that was the last time she ever stepped in the house."

 

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Breaking News
  • Judge: Pence contradicted himself on gay marriage INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — A federal judge has taken Indiana Gov. Mike Pence to task, saying Pence told the court he had no power to enforce Indiana's gay marriage ban and then ordered executive agencies to do so following court rulings. Judge Richard Youn

    August 20, 2014

  • Friends honor Indiana teen killed in plane crash PLAINFIELD, Ind. (AP) — Friends of a central Indiana teenager who died in a Pacific Ocean airplane crash honored him as his high school's soccer team played its first home game of the season. Dozens of people wearing white T-shirts bearing Haris Sul

    August 20, 2014

  • Indiana wants ban on abortion pill law lifted INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — State attorneys are asking a federal judge to lift an order blocking an Indiana abortion pill law that critics claim targets a Planned Parenthood clinic in Lafayette. The attorneys say women could seek the procedure elsewhere. Th

    August 19, 2014

  • Central Indiana reservoir foes back river trails DALEVILLE, Ind. (AP) — Environmental groups are proposing a system of trails to promote use of the White River in central Indiana rather than damming it for a planned seven-mile-long reservoir. The Mounds Greenway proposed by the groups would connec

    August 19, 2014

  • Semi hits concrete that fell from I-74 bridge ST. LEON, Ind. (AP) — State police say semitrailer crashed after it struck a large piece of concrete that fell from a bridge onto Interstate 74 in southeastern Indiana. Sgt. Noel Houze says the section of concrete was about 2 cubic feet and fell Mon

    August 19, 2014

  • Woman pleads guilty of trying to abduct baby MUNCIE, Ind. (AP) — A central Indiana woman has pleaded guilty to charges stemming from an attack during which police say she wrapped an electrical cord around a mother's throat and demanding she hand over her 3-week-old daughter. Thirty-five-year-o

    August 19, 2014

  • Loretta Rush Indiana's 1st female chief justice

    August 6, 2014

  • US Exhibition Basketb_Kova.jpg Doctors say Paul George faces long rehab after leg break

    Doctors say Paul George's biggest battle is yet to come, and it may take a year or more before he returns to the Pacers lineup.

    August 2, 2014 1 Photo

  • Mideast Israel Palest_Kova (1).jpg Netanyahu warns Hamas against more rocket fire

    Israel's prime minister has warned Hamas that it will "pay an intolerable price" if it continues to fire rockets at Israel and that Israeli troops will operate as long as necessary to restore calm for Israeli citizens.

    August 2, 2014 1 Photo

  • Toledo Water Problems_Kova.jpg Ohio's 4th-largest city, Toledo: Don't drink the water

    Toxins possibly from algae on Lake Erie fouled the water supply of the state's fourth-largest city Saturday, forcing officials to issue warnings not to drink the water and the governor to declare a state of emergency as worried residents descended on stores, quickly clearing shelves of bottled water.

    August 2, 2014 1 Photo

Latest news
Featured Ads
Only on our website
AP Video
Japan Landslide Rescuers Struggle in Heavy Rain Raw: Severe Floods, Fire Wrecks Indiana Homes Endangered Red Wolves Face Uncertain Future Raw: Russian Aid Convoy Arrives in Ukraine Hamm Talks Emmy Chances Okla. Policeman Accused of Sex Assaults on Duty Raw: Egypt Bus Crash Kills at Least 33 Two Bodies Found in Adjacent Yards Dominican Republic Bans Miley Cyrus Concert Raw: Israeli Air Strike in Gaza Raw: Rescue Efforts Suspended at Japan Landslide Raw: Bodies of MH17 Victims Arrive in Malaysia Raw: Smaller Marches in Ferguson Attorney: Utah Eatery Had Other Chemical Burn Farm Resurgence Grows With Younger Crowd Microbrewery Chooses Special Can for Its Beer Ky. Firefighters Hurt in Ice Bucket Challenge Federal Investigation Will Look at Use of Force Community Deals With Michael Brown Aftermath US: We Do Not Pay Ransom to Terrorists
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Obituaries
Poll
Kelly Lafferty's video on Tom Miller