In a brief hearing Thursday morning, a judge ordered Ariel Castro, accused of kidnapping three Cleveland women and holding them in captivity for about 10 years, held in lieu of an $8 million bond:
Castro, 52, is charged with kidnapping Gina DeJesus, Michelle Knight, Amanda Berry and a 6-year-old girl, whom Berry gave birth to while she was being held captive. Law enforcement authorities say he repeatedly raped DeJesus, Knight and Berry.
Judge Lauren Moore calculated bail at $2 million per victim, including the little girl.. . .
Brian Murphy, an assistant Cuyahoga County prosecutor, sought a $5 million bond, saying Castro put the women through a “horrifying ordeal” that included repeated beatings and sexual assaults, and periods of being bound and restrained inside Castro’s home.
“They were never free to leave this residence,” Murphy said, describing the house on Seymour Avenue as “a prison for these three women.” With Castro in bright yellow handcuffs and the women reuniting with loved ones, he noted, the situation has been reversed. (Read the full article here.)
In Castro’s neighborhood, many wondered how, if the account of the case given by police is correct, he could have kept the women hidden for so long. One neighbor remembered seeing Castro with Berry’s daughter:
Moises Cintron watched Ariel Castro lift her out of a red pickup truck and take her hand. “A little affection,” Cintron observed. They stopped at the fence, as always, so the girl could pet Cintron’s miniature Dobermans, then walked to the park across the street.
Cintron always wondered about this 6-year-old girl, whom he frequently saw Castro take to the playground. But Cintron didn’t ask. He didn’t want to be labeled a “bochinchoso” — slang for a gossiper, a mark of shame in this neighborhood of Puerto Rican transplants. . .
Alongside the euphoria at their salvation is a sense of unease, a feeling that Castro isn’t the only one who might be at fault. Castro’s brazenness may very well have served as a veil. But he also may have benefited from a kind of code of silence or, at a minimum, an unwillingness to point fingers, some suspect. (Continue reading here.)
If Castro is indeed guilty, his neighbors may have been disarmed by his familiar presence in the community:
Castro . . . drove a school bus, attended neighborhood barbecues, played bass in a number of local bands and was known for the musical equipment that filled his living room, especially his beloved bass guitars.
Yet there were hints of another side to Castro. . . The house that seemed so open to some fellow musicians was closed to other people, with locks on the basement, attic and garage. Records show that Castro was accused of beating his former wife so badly it triggered a blood clot in her brain and that he was fired from his job in November after a series of disciplinary incidents. (Continue reading here.)