Suspect charged with kidnapping, rape

Felix DeJesus pumps his fist after bringing home his daughter, Gina, Wednesday in Cleveland.

Tony Dejak

CLEVELAND — A Cleveland man arrested after three women missing for a decade were found alive at his run-down home was charged Wednesday with kidnapping and raping them. Prosecutors brought no charges against his brothers, saying there was no evidence they had any part in the crime.

Ariel Castro, 52, was charged with four counts of kidnapping — covering all three captives and the daughter born to one of them while she was held — and three counts of rape against the three women.

The former school bus driver owns the peeling home where the women were rescued on Monday, after one of them broke through a screen door while Castro apparently was away.

At a news conference, authorities gave few details on the women’s ordeal. But police said earlier in the day that they were apparently bound with ropes and chains, and a city councilman briefed on the case, Brian Cummins, said that they were subjected to prolonged sexual and psychological abuse and suffered miscarriages.

Deputy Police Chief Ed Tomba said the women could remember being outside only twice during their entire time in captivity. “We were told they left the house and went into the garage in disguise,” he said.

And their first opportunity to escape didn’t come until Monday, he said. The women were not kept in the same room, but knew they were not alone, he said. He also said a paternity test on Castro was being done to establish who fathered the now 6-year-old child of captive Amanda Berry. Castro’s brothers, Pedro, 54, and Onil, 50, were also arrested after the women were rescued, but there was no evidence they had any part in the crime, Cleveland Prosecutor Victor Perez said.

Earlier Wednesday, Berry and former captive Gina DeJesus were welcomed home by jubilant crowds of loved ones and neighbors with balloons and banners. Family members protectively took them inside, past hundreds of reporters and onlookers.

Neither woman spoke, and their families pleaded for patience and time alone. “Give us time and privacy to heal,” said Sandra Ruiz, DeJesus’ aunt. Ruiz thanked police for rescuing the women and urged the public not to retaliate against the suspects or their families.

The third captive, Michelle Knight, 32, was reported in good condition at Metro Health Medical Center.

Neighbors said that Ariel Castro took part in the search for one of the missing women, helped pass out fliers, performed music at a fundraiser for her and attended a candlelight vigil, where he comforted her mother. As recently as 2005, Castro was accused of repeated acts of violence against his children’s mother.

DeJesus, who disappeared in 2004 and is in her early 20s, arrived home in the afternoon Wednesday to chants of “Gina! Gina!” Wearing a bright yellow hooded sweatshirt, she was led through the crowd and into the house by a woman who put her arm around the young woman’s shoulders and held her tight.

Her father pumped his fist after arriving home with his daughter, and he urged people to watch over the children in their neighborhoods — including other people’s kids. “Too many kids these days come up missing, and we always ask this question: How come I didn’t see what happened to that kid? Why? Because we chose not to,” he said

Berry arrived at her sister’s home, also festooned with dozens of colorful balloons and signs, one reading “We Never Lost Hope Mandy.” Hundreds cheered wildly but weren’t able to get a glimpse of Berry as she went in through the back.

A 2005 domestic-violence filing in Cuyahoga County Domestic Relations Court accused Ariel Castro of twice breaking the nose of his children’s mother, knocking out a tooth, dislocating each shoulder and threatening to kill her and her daughters three or four times in a year.

The filing for a protective order by Grimilda Figueroa also said that Castro frequently abducted her daughters and kept them from her.

In 1993, Castro was arrested on a domestic-violence charge and spent three days in jail before he was released on bail. A grand jury did not return an indictment against him, according to court documents, which don’t detail the allegations.