Suspect Ariel Castro ‘Was a Nice Guy,’ Neighbor Says; Cleveland School Bus Driver and Brothers Arrested in ‘House of Horrors’ Kidnappings

News accounts are providing more information about Ariel Castro, the 52-year-old Cleveland school bus driver arrested as a suspect in the kidnapping of three teenage girls who were found alive Monday at a home on Seymour Avenue.

“I’m not the only one on the block that feels ashamed to know that we didn’t notice anything,” neighbor Juan Perez told Cleveland ABC-TV affiliate News 5. “He was a nice guy, he would come around and say hi. He gave the kids rides up and down the street on his four-wheeler.”

Ariel_Castro_Suspect_Kidnap_Amanda_Berry_Cleveland_Rape

Cleveland kidnap victim Amanda Berry (left); suspect Ariel Castro (center); another kidnap victim, Gina DeJesus (right)

Perez said he “didn’t think anything” of Castro’s attention to children in the neighborhood at the time. “Now it’s like, red-flag, red-flag, red-flag, somebody should’ve said something and my sister actually a few years ago heard a scream and she called police.”

The neighbor who helped rescue the girls also never suspected Ariel Castro of wrongdoing. “We seen this dude everyday,” Charles Ramsey told reporters. “I barbecued with this dude … We eat ribs and what not, and listen to salsa music.”

Police also arrested Ariel Castro’s two brothers in connection with the case. Chains and bondage equipment were reportedly found in the basement of the home at 2207 Seymour Avenue. News accounts describe as a “house of horrors” where three women were held captive as sex slaves after being kidnapped as teenagers. Amanda Berry was 16 when she was kidnapped in 2003; Gina DeJesus was 14 when she disappeared in 2004; Michelle Knight was 20 when she went missing in 2002.

Ariel Castro had been arrested for domestic violence and disorderly conduct in 1993, and had also been stopped several times for traffic violations, News 5 reported.

UPDATE: The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports more details from today’s press conference:

A 6-year-old also was found in the home, and Cleveland police Deputy Chief Ed Tomba said Tuesday that the girl is believed to be Berry’s daughter. …
Police had been to the house twice, once in 2000, another time in 2004, officials said.
Safety Director Martin Flask said: In March 2000, Ariel Castro reported to police there was a fight in the street. No report of arrests made.
In Jan. 2004, police went to the address after Castro reportedly — either intentionally or accidentally — left a child on a bus, but were unsuccessful in making contact with anyone in the home. An iInvestigation found no criminal intent by Castro, Flask said. …
Police on Tuesday morning said they had arrested Castro and his two brothers: Pedro Castro, 54 and Onil Castro, 50.

UPDATE II: USA Today reports:

Records show that Castro was arrested for domestic violence in 1993, but that a grand jury declined to indict him. They also show that Castro, 52, owned the home at 2207 Seymour Ave. where the women were found, but that the house was in foreclosure because Castro owed thousands in real estate taxes.

The New York Times reports:

The police had been called two times to a house where three young women from Cleveland, who disappeared about a decade ago and who friends and relatives feared were gone forever, were found on Monday, the authorities said on Tuesday. …
Neither of those visits by the authorities resulted in any arrests, nor was there any indication about the dramatic discovery for which [Ariel] Castro is now being held. …
On Tuesday the authorities said Mr. Castro, 52, was one of those arrested in connection with the case. Two of his brothers, Pedro, 54, and Oneil, 50, were also arrested. …
On Tuesday, the police in Cleveland said they still had to fully interview [Amanda] Berry and the other two women to get a complete picture of why and how they ended up in the house. Gina DeJesus, who along with Ms. Berry had been missing since she was a teenager, and Michelle Knight who was 20 when she vanished, followed Ms. Berry out of the house after the police arrived.
Chief Michael McGrath, of the Cleveland Division of Police, said it was because of Ms. Berry’s “brave actions” that the other two women were able to escape as well.
Also in the house was the girl, a 6-year old, believed to be Ms. Berry’s daughter. The authorities did not release the identity of the child’s father, nor did they reveal more details about the condition of the women, saying that they were concerned with their emotional well-being.

UPDATE III: “We have several unanswered questions: why and how they were taken and why they remained undetected in Cleveland this period of time,” Mayor Frank Jackson said at the Tuesday morning press conference:

A source told reporter Paul Kiska that chains and bondage were found in basement of the Seymour Avenue home where Knight, Berry and DeJesus were held captive and that the victims were, at times, tied up with chains and tape. But authorities could not confirm if the women were forced into sex slavery.
The question arose after Berry was seen carrying a young girl, who authorities believe to be her daughter, when rescued from the house of horrors early Monday night by a neighbor. …
Cleveland chief deputy Ed Tomba said Ariel Castro was interviewed extensively in 2004 regarding an incident when he was a school bus driver. Tomba said Castro either intentionally or inadvertently left a young boy on his bus. The incident was ruled accidental.
That spawned the question if Castro used his position as a school bus driver to gain access to the then young girls. Tomba said the answer remains unknown.
“Every single lead was followed up on, no matter how small. We dug up yards, we canvassed neighborhoods and we participated in vigils. The real hero here is Amanda,” Tomba said.
A neighbor told reporter Kristin Volk that they never saw Ariel Castro come out of the front door of the Seymour Avenue home and that he always used the back door. 

UPDATE IV: Castro’s next-door neighbor, Angel Cordero, who helped Charles Ramsey rescue the kidnapping victims, said Amanda Berry told him: “He’s had us locked up for ten years. He locked us in the basement with chains.”

UPDATE V: Cleveland ‘House of Horrors’: Kidnapped Girls Were Raped, Impregnated and Beaten by Three Suspects, Investigators Say

READ MORE:

 

5 Comments

  1. Pingback : ‘House of Horrors’: Kidnapped Sex Slaves Held in Chains by School Bus Driver : The Other McCain

  2. May 7, 2013  11:54 am by karenawyle Reply

    The resemblances to the novel Room are eery.

  3. May 7, 2013  5:04 pm by theebl Reply

    Frightening. Monsters.

  4. Pingback : Cleveland ‘House of Horror’ Neighbors Called 911; Police ‘Didn’t Take It Seriously’ : The Other McCain

  5. May 9, 2013  2:11 pm by letty Reply

    these fuckin debolic individuals should get the death penalty for sure!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!and also so they could go to fuckinnnnnnnnnnn hell cut there dick so they can suffer as well

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