Grisly Entries

Castro Captives Kept Diaries Revealing Torture, Rape, Beatings and More

The three women held captive by Arial Castro for 10 years in his Cleveland house kept detailed diaries in which they chronicled their ordeal.

Tony Dejak/AP

Ariel Castro was sentenced Thursday to life in prison without the possibility of parole for the kidnapping, rape, and torture of three young women. Ahead of his sentencing, prosecutors filed a memo revealing that Castro’s captives kept diaries in which they documented the details of the time they spent held hostage. The memo does not take direct quotes from the diaries, but takes the women’s words and recounts what happened. Details from the memo include:

In 2002, Castro picked up Michelle Knight in his car by telling her he’d give her a puppy to give to her son. In 2003, Amanda Berry was walking home from work when Castro pulled up and asked if she wanted to see his daughter. One year later, he asked Gina DeJesus if she needed a ride home from school.

The women wrote that Castro chained them up by their ankles in a dark room and sexually abused them regularly. He allowed one or two cold showers a week and let them eat once a day.

If one of the women made an attempt to break free, they were beaten by Castro while the rest were forced to watch.

The women were forced to use plastic toilets that Castro kept in their bedrooms, often full.

In 2006, Michelle Knight saved the life of Amanda Berry’s baby with Castro by giving it CPR when it was born not breathing.

A few months after Berry’s baby was born, Knight herself got pregnant. In an effort to prevent her from bringing another child into the house, Castro beat and starved the pregnant Knight and successfully aborted the pregnancy—for which he was charged and pled guilty to aggravated murder.

In the diaries, the women wrote of missing their families and hoping to escape. They wrote that Castro would often wield a gun and tell them stories about other people he’d kidnapped who never made it back to their homes.

Once, when Castro had a visitor to the house, he locked all three of the women in a car in his garage and kept them there for three days.

The memo quotes clinical psychologist Dr. Frank Ochberg, who concludes that Castro’s poor treatment and manipulation of the girls through small favors over time led them to develop Stockholm syndrome. “Little by little, you are allowed ‘the gifts of life.’ You are like an infant, totally dependent on your mother for survival,” wrote Ochberg. “As you receive these gifts of life, without consciously realizing what is occurring, you feel some warmth—even love—toward that life giver.”