May 6, 2013
Amanda Berry and her 6-year-old daughter escape from their captor’s house after nearly a decade of imprisonment, bringing help to the other two abducted girls in the house
Ariel Castro kidnapped three girls between 2002 and 2004, offering them rides before bringing them to his house, luring them inside, and binding them. His first victim, Michelle Knight (21 at time of kidnapping, 2002), was bound by her hands, feet, and neck and left for three days without food before she was finally fed. She was raped repeatedly and testified she was impregnated several times, but Castro’s beatings caused miscarriages; Castro confessed to the beatings and rapes, but claims Knight was probably never pregnant.
The second girl abducted, Amanda Berry (16 at time of kidnapping, 2003), was also raped repeatedly and delivered a baby girl. Castro forced Knight to assist in the birth in 2006, and if the baby did not survive Knight would be killed. The baby stopped breathing at one point, but Knight was able to resuscitate her. Over the next 6 years, Castro would occasionally take the child out of the house, introducing her as his “girlfriend’s” daughter.
The final girl taken, Gina DeJesus (14 at time of kidnapping, 2004), was raped repeatedly as well.
At his trial, Castro claimed he was a sex and porn addict, that he was “a good person” and “not a monster,” and had been masturbating from a young age. He also claimed “most” of the sexual acts were consensual. Castro blamed the FBI for not catching him sooner, as well as blaming the victims for “not being virgins” which he discovered when he had “sex” with each for the first time. He attempted an apologetic attitude, saying “I hope they can find in their hearts to forgive me because we had a lot of harmony going on in that home.”
Castro took a plea deal, pleading guilty to 937 criminal counts including rape, kidnapping (one for each of the women and another for his daughter by Berry), assault, aggravated assault, and aggravated murder (for the forced miscarriages). He was sentenced to life in prison plus 1,000 years, with no possibility of parole.
A month into his sentence, Castro hanged himself in his cell with a bed sheet.