Monday 14 October 2019

Kidnap suspect fathered girl, six

Ariel Castro was ordered held on eight million US dollar bail (AP/Cuyahoga County)
Ariel Castro was ordered held on eight million US dollar bail (AP/Cuyahoga County)
Ariel Castro appears in Cleveland Municipal court charged with kidnapping and rape (AP)
Ariel Castro was charged with four counts of kidnapping and three counts of rape (AP/Cleveland Police Department)
Amanda Berry, right, hugs her sister Beth Serrano after being reunited in a Cleveland hospital (AP)
Investigators at a house in Cleveland where police say three women were found (AP/Mark Duncan)
Members of the FBI evidence team remove items from a house in Cleveland after three women who went missing were found (AP)

A DNA test confirmed another dark twist in the story of three women imprisoned in an Ohio house for about 10 years.

Kidnap and rape suspect Ariel Castro is the father of a six-year-old girl who escaped from the house in Cleveland along with the women, a prosecutor said.

As the investigation into the women's ordeal continued, the FBI also said no human remains were among more than 200 pieces of evidence collected from the house.

Two of the women, including the one who gave birth to the girl, returned to relatives' houses earlier this week. The third woman, Michelle Knight, was released from hospital with a request that her privacy be respected. "Michelle Knight is in good spirits and would like the community to know that she is extremely grateful for the outpouring of flowers and gifts," the statement said. No information would be provided about her next steps, said MetroHealth Medical Centre spokeswoman Phyllis Marino.

Castro is in jail under suicide watch while prosecutors consider what charges they might bring against him, including the possibility of ones carrying a death penalty. He is currently charged with rape and kidnapping.

Castro was represented at Thursday's hearing by public defender Kathleen Demetz, who said she was acting as his adviser if needed until he was appointed a full-time lawyer once he was charged by a grand jury. She said she could not speak of his guilt or innocence and advised him not to give any media interviews that might jeopardise his case.

Family members have portrayed Castro as a "monster" who terrorised the mother of his children, frequently beating her, playing twisted psychological games and locking her indoors. The stories have surprised people who knew him as a musician who played bass in several bands around Cleveland the last two decades.

A police report said Castro impregnated one of his captives at least five times and made her miscarry by starving her and punching her in the stomach. The report also said another one of the women, Amanda Berry, was forced to give birth in a plastic children's pool.

Tests by the state attorney general's office on a sample of Castro's DNA confirmed that he was the father of Ms Berry's six-year-old daughter, who was rescued from his house, the office said. After her release, the girl returned home with Ms Berry, 27. Officials also were entering the DNA profile into a national database to see if it linked Castro to other crimes.

The three women said Castro chained them up in the basement but eventually let them live on the home's second floor. Each woman told a similar story about being abducted after accepting a ride from him.

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