Wednesday 13 December 2017

Prison to probe 'coward' Castro's jail-cell suicide

Ariel Castro was sentenced to 1000 years term for holding three women captive for 10 years.
Ariel Castro was sentenced to 1000 years term for holding three women captive for 10 years.

Philip Sherwell New York

Ariel Castro was sentenced to a 1,000-year term for holding three women captive for 10 years. Top left: victim Amanda Berry with sister Beth after her release.

US Prison authorities opened an inquiry after Ariel Castro, the Cleveland man jailed for 1,000 years last month after holding three young women captive for a decade, hanged himself in his cell.

Castro's lawyers criticised the authorities after it emerged that the former school bus driver was not under suicide watch when, according to a preliminary post-mortem examination, he hanged himself with a bedsheet on Tuesday night.

Staff found him in his cell at Correctional Reception Centre in Orient, Ohio, where new convicts are prepared for life in prison.

Castro was being held in solitary confinement in "protective custody", meaning he was checked every 30 minutes, jail officials said.

But he was taken off suicide watch, which involves constant observation, in June while awaiting trial after authorities determined he was not a risk. They said that a review was being launched.

Police found a suicide note and confession that Castro had written in 2004 when they searched his home in May. But his lawyer said yesterday that the authorities repeatedly denied him a psychologist or a psychological evaluation.

"We requested the opportunity for our retained independent psychologist to see and evaluate Mr Castro in both the county jail and in the prison reception centre," said Jaye Schlachet. "We were denied and thwarted in each of our attempts. If the state of Ohio is going to incarcerate an individual they should protect that individual from themselves and others. This is not good for the system and not good for the families."

Two of Castro's victims, Gina DeJesus (23) and Michelle Knight (32) were said to have "mixed feelings" over his death.

Jackie Figaro Roman, an aunt of Ms DeJesus, reportedly said: "Gina is a little confused. We are trying to protect her because we have to remember, she was a 14-year-old girl (when she was kidnapped). But Gina and Michelle won't have to think about him because he's not around any more."

Amanda Berry (27), the third victim, has not commented.

Thomas McGinty, the district attorney who led the prosecution, called sex offenders such as Castro "cowards" and implied that he had opted for the easy way out. "This man couldn't take, for even a month, a small portion of what he had dished out for more than a decade," he said.


"These degenerate molesters are cowards. Let this be a message to other child kidnappers: there will be a heavy price to pay when you are caught. You won't enjoy the captive side of the bars."

Castro's suicide was greeted on social media with a mixture of celebration at the death of a "monster" and regret that he would not spend the rest of his life incarcerated, as his victims had hoped.

At Castro's sentencing hearing, Ms Knight said the death penalty was too good for him. "You took 11 years of my life away and I have got it back," she said. "I spent 11 years in hell and now your hell is just beginning."

Castro's mother Lillian Rodriguez and his two brothers, who were initially arrested with him but quickly cleared of any involvement, did not respond to requests for comment. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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