Forced abortions, chains in the basement, and cruel mind games. What the three captured Cleveland women told police after they were rescued.
Just two days after three missing women were rescued from a Cleveland home, an official police report—obtained by local news source WKYC—exposes the horrific conditions the women say they endured behind closed doors. In the grisly report, Michelle Knight, Amanda Berry, and Gina DeJesus explain in vivid and horrific detail how their alleged kidnapper, Ariel Castro, successfully held them captive for nearly a decade.
“All three women victims stated that Ariel chained them up in the basement,” the report reads. “But eventually he let them free from the chains and let them live upstairs on the second floor.” Once on the second floor, the physical, sexual, and mental abuse the women endured daily only worsened. They were rarely permitted to leave the house—they remember doing so only twice—and when they did, were forced to don humiliating wigs to mask their identity.
When Castro had guests over to his home on Seymour Avenue, he made sure they were invisible. “He would bring the women upstairs to the attic, tie them up, and tape their mouths,” reported Fox 8 Cleveland. The 52-year-old would then blast music throughout the house, silencing any attempts the women made to scream for help. According to one of DeJesus’s cousins, Castro further humiliated the women by forcing them to eat cake and “celebrate” National Abduction Day each year.
But among the most repulsive passages in the report is Castro’s treatment of the women after impregnating them—a product of his continual rape of all three. Reliving the scene for police, the women paint a horrifying picture of Castro’s forced “barbaric abortions”; he would allegedly starve the women for up to two weeks before “punch[ing] them in the stomach until they miscarried.”
According to the report, Michelle Knight was forced to endure the inhumane termination not once but five times. If surviving five savage abortions wasn't enough, Knight was then forced by Castro—at the threat of death—to deliver Amanda Berry's baby. The women explained how Castro provided nothing other than an inflatable baby pool meant to hold “the mess.” Castro allegedly terrorized Knight throughout the birth: “He said if the baby died, that he’d kill her,” the report reads. When Berry’s baby stopped breathing moments after leaving the womb, Knight had no choice but to perform CPR. She “breathed for her” until she could breathe on her own, the women recounted.
How exactly Castro was able to keep all three women from escaping—after he had stopped chaining them to the basement ceiling—is unclear. But a thorough read of the report suggests one of his main tactics was fear. Amanda Berry, who escaped to save all three after Castro left without “locking the big door,” told police she was terrified that he was “testing her” by leaving it unlocked.
Castro, 52, faces four charges of kidnapping and three charges of rape.
After 10 years in Cleveland’s house of horrors, the oldest kidnapping victim is finally free. Now all she has to do is get back to her family.
Loud cheers greeted Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus as they arrived at their homes Wednesday afternoon, almost one decade after they were abducted, subjected to prolonged sexual and psychological abuse, and apparently bound with ropes and chains, in the Cleveland house of horrors.
Michelle Knight, seen here as a teenager in an undated photo, disappeared in 2002. (Knight family)
The happy homecoming came on the same day that 52-year-old Ariel Castro was charged with four counts of kidnapping and three counts of rape, and police officers pulled out more than 200 items of evidence from Ariel Castro’s home on Seymour Avenue.
Castro reportedly only let the women, whom he allegedly forced to wear disguises, outside twice in 10 years to walk from the house to the garage. Castro was arraigned this morning in a Cleveland Municipal Court and is being held on bond for $2 million in each case. His brothers, Onil and Pedro, were not charged in the kidnapping after police interviewed the women and Castro, who waived his right to remain silent and spoke with investigators.
The alleged Cleveland kidnapper’s brothers are friendly drunks with no apparent jobs or girlfriends. They lived with their Jehovah’s Witness mom. And now they’re pariahs.
Of Cleveland’s three Castro brothers, it was the middle one, Ariel, 52, who seemed to have his life in order.
Neighbors describe the other siblings—Pedro, 54, and Onil, 50—as kind and polite but nearly always drunk. No one could remember how they earned a living. Ariel, on the other hand, who was charged Wednesday with the rape and kidnapping of three women he allegedly held hostage in his home for nearly a decade, worked a day job for 20 years as a schoolbus driver until he was fired in November. While his brothers got around town on bicycles, Ariel owned a motorcycle and cars, including a Jeep Cherokee and a red Toyota pickup. He had at one time filled in on bass in a local band, Grupo Fuego. He didn’t drink nearly as prolifically as his two siblings did.
From left: Onil Castro, Ariel Castro, and Pedro Castro. Ariel Castro, suspected of keeping three women captive inside his decrepit house for a decade, was charged May 8 with kidnapping and rape. (AP)
He had girlfriends, and as far as others knew, took care of a beautiful little girl named Jocelyn. Later, of course, it would be found that the girl was birthed in captivity by Amanda Berry, one of the three women Castro is accused of kidnapping.
The domestic-violence and abduction allegations didn’t stop him. Nor did telling a kid on the bus he drove, ‘Lay down, bitch.’ Michael Daly on how Cleveland proved the perfect home for the alleged kidnapper.
Cleveland seems to be a great city to be a monster.
Ariel Castro remained at liberty there for year after year, even though three kidnapped women were imprisoned in his house and his ex-wife had told the domestic-violence court that he had brutalized and terrorized her and their children.
Police in protective suits on May 8 investigate homes down the street from the house where three women were held captive for close to a decade in Cleveland. (Matt Sullivan/Getty)
In her petition for an order of protection, ex-wife Grimilda Figueroa stated that Castro had “broken petitioner’s nose (twice), ribs, lacerations, knocked out tooth, blood clot on brain, (inoperable tumor), dislocated shoulder, (twice, once on each side) threatened to kill petitioner and daughters 3 to 4 times just this year.”
For getting in his car.
In a suicide note allegedly written several years ago by Ariel Castro, the suspected kidnapper of Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus, and Michelle Knight reveals who he thinks is responsible for their abduction: them. The 52-year-old, who is currently being held with his two brothers—Onil, 50, and Pedro, 54—says the teens are to blame for getting in his car. In the letter, first discovered by WOIO, the self-declared sex addict fails to acknowledge his own role in the crime, or even so much as mention the repeated sexual and physical abuse he had inflicted on the women.
A Facebook page allegedly belonging to Cleveland kidnapping suspect Ariel Castro surfaced Wednesday morning. A look inside the page reveals a musician and loving grandfather—no sign of a monster who kept three women locked in his house as sex slaves.
Police find chains and ropes in Castro house.
Amanda Berry, the 27-year-old woman who first broke free from Ariel Castro’s house and revealed that she and two other women had been held for more than a decade, returned home Wednesday. Meanwhile, new evidence indicated all three Cleveland women held in captivity for a decade were not only sexually and physically abused—they were also tied up, police announced Wednesday. “We have confirmation that they were bound, and there was chains and ropes in the home,” Chief Michael McGrath told NBC. Although their physical states were “very good,” McGrath says they were likely allowed outdoors only “once in a while.” The grisly details, initially discovered through interviews with the women, have been corroborated by evidence in the house. Ariel, Pedro, and Onil Castro—the three brothers accused of the crimes—are likely to be charged Wednesday.
Ariel Castro, accused of kidnapping three Cleveland women, was a school bus driver with a long, long list of traffic infractions. Steve Miller digs up the suspect’s rap sheet.
Despite a driving record that included numerous points for moving violations and a move by the state to suspend his license, Ariel Castro drove a school bus for the Cleveland Metropolitan School District for over 20 years, before being fired in November 2012.
Cleveland Police Department image of Ariel Castro. (Beateworks/Corbis; Cleveland Police Department/AP)
Records show Castro had numerous encounters with local police while driving, from illegal parking in July 1995 to failing to obey a traffic device in January 2001.
The infractions pose yet another question as to how Castro was able to carry on his life in a most average fashion, even as he allegedly held three women against their will in his modest four-bedroom, one-bath home on Cleveland’s west side.
See the best TV moments of Charles Ramsey.
We first met Charles Ramsey, the hero who rescued three Cleveland women from close to a decade of captivity, in this amazing interview. His plain white T-shirt counterbalanced his colorful personality, and Ramsey’s intensity and wit shone through as he described his decisive actions. But first, he mentioned his meal at McDonald’s. Delicious.
The interview made him an Internet celebrity. Before long, “Charles Ramsey” was trending on Twitter, YouTubers were paying him Auto-Tuned homage, and Antoine Dodson was welcoming him into the pantheon of hilariously expressive local TV interview subjects.
(Here’s the requisite Gregory Brothers auto-tune:)
Then, breaking news! In an interview with Cleveland’s Plain Dealer, Ramsey revealed that he had been eating a Big Mac when he heard Amanda Berry’s screams—and that he brought the Big Mac with him as he went to rescue her.
Madeleine McAnn’s been missing for six years. But the escape of three Cleveland women this week offers new hope for the British girl’s parents.
Just last week the parents of missing Briton Madeleine McCann marked the six-year anniversary of their daughter’s disappearance by attending a poignant ceremony in their hometown church in Leicestershire, England. They made the local television rounds, reminding holiday makers heading to the Algarve, Portugal, where Madeleine disappeared in 2007, to take along posters of what their daughter would look like now. A few days later, Madeleine’s mother, Kate, set off for Portugal to revisit the scene where her daughter disappeared in an attempt to “feel closer” to her. She said she felt more optimistic than ever that her daughter would be found.
Kate McCann, mother of missing British girl Maddie, looks on near a poster of Maddie as her and husband Gerry McCann speak to journalists on their way out of Tribunal Civil de Lisboa in Lisbon on February 10, 2010. (Francisco Leong/AFP/Getty)
Those feelings were amplified on Monday when three American women who had been missing for a decade were found in a ramshackle house in Cleveland. Amanda Berry, who was abducted when she was 16, Gina DeJesus, who was abducted when she was 14, and Michelle Knight, who went missing at the age of 20, were rescued on Monday night. The women had been abducted on separate occasions, and they had lived together in captivity for a decade before Berry literally broke through the door of the house and caught the attention of the neighbors. A 6-year-old girl identified as Berry’s daughter was also discovered with the women.
Like McCann, the mothers of the missing women had never given up hope. Last year, on the eighth anniversary of DeJesus’s disappearance, her mother wore a bright yellow T-shirt with a photo of her daughter taken days before she disappeared with the words “Have You Seen Me?” Berry’s mother died three years after the abduction, news that her daughter would have learned only after she was freed this week. Knight’s mother had always assumed her daughter ran away by choice and had waited for years to hear from her. "The discovery of these young women reaffirms our hope of finding Madeleine, which has never diminished," the McCanns said in a statement. "Their recovery is also further evidence that children are sometimes abducted and kept for long periods. So we ask the public to remain vigilant in the ongoing search for Madeleine. Our thoughts are with the women in America and their families."
Anthony Sowell was sentenced to death in 2011 after raping and killing 11 Cleveland women. Read the shocking details of how that case—much like this week’s escape of three kidnapping victims—raises questions about Cleveland police's failure to follow clues, says Michael Daly.
If you are stunned that three Cleveland women could be held captive for a decade without being discovered, then you are unacquainted with the case of Anthony Sowell, also known as the Cleveland Strangler.
Photos of women whose bodies were found at the home of Anthony Sowell on a missing person board November 17, 2009; Sowell in court December 9, 2009, charged with killing 11 women and dumping their remains around his home. (Tony Dejak/AP)
Sowell was a registered sex offender who remained at liberty despite a series of sexual-assault complaints against him, until the police finally acted and discovered the bodies of 11 murdered women in his house and backyard.
At least some of those murders and rapes could have been prevented if the police had not reacted so indifferently when a distraught woman called them in September 2008, after being repeatedly raped, beaten, and choked by Sowell. She had at one point sought refuge in a bathroom, where she saw a headless body wrapped in plastic and positioned in a sitting position in the bathtub.
If three women were held hostage for 10 years on your block, would you notice? Christine Pelisek talks to shocked residents of Cleveland’s west side about the red flags they missed.
For many years, 52-year-old Ariel Castro was a neighborhood fixture on Seymour Avenue on Cleveland’s west side, greeting neighbors with a friendly, “Hello, God bless.”
“He would come home with these big ass bags of McDonald’s in his hands,” says Edwin Garcia, 19, who lives just down the street, of the former school bus driver. “We always just thought he was getting himself a big breakfast and lunch.”
What’s obvious now is that something much more sinister was going on inside the Castro home, where police say Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus, and Michelle Knight were held as hostages ever since they vanished without a trace over a decade ago in their teens or early 20s.
When Amanda Berry called 911 after being held captive for 10 years, the Cleveland dispatcher didn’t keep her on the line until police came—but quibbled over her address and rushed to get off the phone. David Freedlander on the blowback.
The voice was frantic, pleading, sounding even more frightened than the usual call to 911.
A police officer keeps the public away from the house where three women, who disappeared as teens about a decade ago, were found alive May 7, 2013 in Cleveland, Ohio. Inset: Amanda Berry (Bill Pugliano/Getty)
“Hello, police. Help me, I’m Amanda Berry. I’ve been kidnapped and I’ve been missing for 10 years, and I’m, I’m here, I’m free now.”
But one of the first people Berry reached out to after a decade in captivity didn’t comfort her, didn’t assure her that help was soon on the way, didn’t even keep her on the phone until police arrived.
In a matter of hours, a dishwasher in Cleveland went from a good neighbor to an international hero. Abigail Haglage rounds up what we know so far about the honorable Charles Ramsey.
As the city of Cleveland rejoices over the rescue of three kidnapped women, the Internet is busy crowning a new king. Meet Charles Ramsey, the self-effacing Clevelander whose quick offer of assistance to Amanda Berry has made him an international hero.
By Tuesday morning, Ramsey was not only ruling YouTube, but Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr to boot. Outgoing and friendly with a comedian’s flair, his now-viral video reliving the rescue of Berry (and, eventually Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight) is nothing if not charming. The brief clip is pure feel-good YouTube time; not because he touts his own heroism, but because he doesn’t.
“I was just eating my McDonald’s” he tells local reporters, who ask how the incident began. The nod to America’s favorite fast-food franchise earned him a personalized tweet from the Big Mac masters themselves. “We salute the courage of Ohio kidnap victims & respect their privacy,” McDonald’s tweet reads. “Way to go Charles Ramsey—we'll be in touch.”
The alleged kidnappers of three Cleveland women reportedly raped the captive women, resulting in up to five pregnancies. We’re following the latest developments here.
Ariel Castro, the Cleveland man accused of kidnapping and raping Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight, appeared in court Thursday morning, where bond was set at $8 million.
The Ohio man who rescued three women from captivity Monday is trending on Twitter. And he's joined the pantheon of hilariously expressive people—from Kai to Antoine Dodson—who became Internet stars overnight.
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What’s turned Los Angeles into a culinary boomtown? Chef Roy Choi and New Yorker staff writer Dana Goodyear know.