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Ariel Castro might have strangled himself for sexual pleasure

Ohio officials suggest in a new report it's possible Cleveland kidnapper Ariel Castro may have died of auto-erotic asphyxiation, not suicide. (Associated Press)

A report from the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction suggests that Ariel Castro might not have intended to kill himself, but may have done so accidentally while attempting to choke himself for sexual pleasure. The man who kidnapped and repeatedly raped Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight in his Cleveland home was found dead in his prison cell last month, having served just a few weeks of a life sentence.

Castro’s death was previously classified as a suicide, but the circumstances led officials to suggest auto-erotic asphyxiation as the cause:

Castro’s pants and underwear were pulled down to his ankles when he was found Sept. 3 in his cell at a prison reception center south of Columbus, the report said. He had a sheet wrapped around his neck, which was attached to a window hinge, investigators said.

Officials also found a Bible open to John Chapters 2 and 3 and pictures of Castro’s family arranged “in a poster-board fashion,” according to the report.

Those facts were forwarded to the state highway patrol “for consideration of the possibility of auto-erotic asphyxiation,” the report said. . . .

Castro did not leave a suicide note and “multiple levels of assessment” did not find tendency toward suicide, the report said. A comprehensive mental health evaluation found “no evidence of serious mental illness or indications for suicide precautions were present,” according to the report.

The day he died, he expressed interest in the possibility that he would serve his time segregated from the general prison population.

As a result of those facts, no motivation for suicide was found, the state concluded.

Associated Press

The report also concluded that guards responsible for watching over Castro falsified logs before his death, skipping required checks.

Castro was sentenced in August after pleading guilty to charges of rape, kidnapping and assault, as well as aggravated murder for causing Knight, whom he impregnated, to miscarry.

For past coverage of this case, continue reading here.

Max Ehrenfreund writes for Wonkblog and compiles Wonkbook, a daily policy newsletter. You can subscribe here. Before joining The Washington Post, Ehrenfreund wrote for the Washington Monthly and The Sacramento Bee.


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