COLUMBUS, Ohio (CBSNewYork/AP) — Ariel Castro, the man who held three Cleveland women captive for roughly a decade, committed suicide in an Ohio state prison facility, officials said early Wednesday morning.
Ohio corrections spokeswoman JoEllen Smith said Castro, 53, was found hanging in his cell around 9:20 p.m. Tuesday at the Correctional Reception Center in Orient, Ohio. Prison medical staff performed CPR before Castro was transported to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
As CBS 2’s Weijia Jiang reported, Castro was not on suicide watch, but was under protective custody in a cell by himself. Guards were required to check on him every 30 minutes.
The three women – Gina DeJesus, Amanda Berry and Michelle Knight — disappeared separately between 2002 and 2004, when they were 14, 16 and 20 years old, respectively. They escaped May 6, when one of the women broke part of a door and yelled to neighbors for help. Castro was arrested that evening.
The last time he spoke publicly — at his sentencing hearing — Castro insisted he was a good person.
At the hearing, Castro offered a rambling and at times defiant statement and apologized to his victims, insisting that he is not a violent person.
“I’m not trying to make excuses here. I’m just saying… they’re trying to say I’m a violent person and I’m not a violent person,” Castro said. “These people painted me as a monster. I’m not a monster, I’m sick.”
Castro blamed his crimes on an addiction to masturbation and pornography, but told the court that his victims engaged in consensual sex with him.
“Most of that sex that went on in that house, practically all of it, was consensual,” he said. “These allegations about being forceful on them — that is totally wrong.”
Moments later, a judge sentenced Castro to life in prison plus 1,000 years. He spent less than four months in captivity.
A reporter for Cleveland CBS affiliate WOIO-TV spoke with DeJesus’ aunt, who said she was concerned about how the women Castro kidnapped would take the news.
“And then she also said, ‘well, now he has to answer to God. That was it. He has to answer to God,’” said WOIO-TV reporter Lydia Esparra.
The victims were rescued in May, when Berry escaped from Castro’s home. Knight faced him a final time during the sentencing hearing in late July.
“Days never got shorter,” she said. “Days turned into nights, nights turned into days, years turned into eternity.”
Back in Ohio, Castro’s neighbors called the suicide an appropriate end to a horror story.
“I think he did those girls a favor by taking his own life, because he took theirs,” a neighbor said.
Police reportedly found a suicide note in Castro’s house the day he was arrested. In it, Castro claimed he was sick and needed help.
Officials in Ohio were investigating his death Wednesday, and planned to release more details along the way.
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