CLEVELAND, Ohio — The reactions to Ariel Castro’s death have ranged from tears to calling him a coward to demands for an investigation. But the three women who suffered in his control for about decade remained silent.
Michelle Knight, Georgina DeJesus and Amanda Berry have not said a word about Castro’s death.
The man who snatched them off the street, chained them in his house and raped them repeatedly, was found hanged in an Ohio prison Wednesday.
While there were strong opinions about Castro from many, a spokeswoman said Wednesday the three women would not make a statement.
Maria Castro-Montes, Castro’s cousin, said she cried when she heard the news and immediately thought of the victims. Would they be glad or angry about Castro’s death?
“I just hope these victims can move past this now. I know they wanted him to live out a life sentence, but really, was he suffering behind bars?” She said. “I mean, getting meals, sleeping in a nice, warm, soft bed. You know, those girls didn’t even have that luxury when they were being held captive in his home. They were being raped. They were being tortured. They were being beaten.”
Castro, 52, was found hanged with a bedsheet, Coroner Dr. Jan Gorniak said Wednesday. He was being held at the Correctional Reception Center in Orient.
Prison medical staff tried to revive him but failed.
Castro was taken to The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead at 10:52 p.m.
The Cuyahoga County prosecutor had tough words in the wake of Castro’s death.
“These degenerate molesters are cowards,” Timothy J. McGinty said. “… This man couldn’t take, for even a month, a small portion of what he had dished out for more than a decade.”
Attorney questions the suicide
Castro was not a part of the general prison population, officials said.
“He was housed in protective custody which means he was in a cell by himself and rounds are required every 30 minutes at staggered intervals,” JoEllen Smith of the corrections department said in a statement.
“A thorough review of this incident is under way,” she added.
At least two investigations will be done, according to another corrections department statement.
The prison director commissioned a review team, to be made up of legal, medical, mental health, security and operational professionals not directly involved in the incident, to analyze Castro’s death.
But Castro attorney, Craig Weintraub, said more precautions against a possible suicide should have been taken.
Castro’s attorneys had requested permission for an independent forensic psychologist to evaluate their client, but were denied by officials, he said.
If Castro was believed to be suicidal, he should have been under stricter protection, he said.
Some will see his death as “a happy ending to this story, and a quick ending and justifiable,” Weintraub said. “But we’re in a civilized society and no one should really be celebrating this.”
No place in the world
In handing down a sentence last month, Judge Michael Russo told the kidnapper there was no place in the world for his brand of criminal.
Castro pleaded guilty to 937 counts, including murder and kidnapping, in exchange for the death penalty being taken off the table.
The charges stem from his kidnapping, rape and assault of Knight, abducted in 2002; DeJesus, abducted in 2004; and Berry; abducted in 2003.
Castro is the father of Berry’s 6-year-old daughter.
All three women kept diaries with Castro’s permission, providing many of the details of their abuse.
“I cried every night. I was so alone. I worried what would happen to me and the other girls every day,” Knight, 32, said, as she addressed her abductor head-on during his sentencing. “I will live on. You will die a little every day.”
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