Typically victims names are not shared. So why are the names Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus, and Michelle Knight on the lips of most reporters across the nation? In short these three victims all vanished between 2002 and 2004. The disappearances were national news back at the time of their disappearance so finding the women alive in 2013 was big news. Berry was on all of the national networks after the 27 year-old told police that she escaped when Castro forgot to lock the "big inside door" of the home when he left to go to McDonald's. Berry's screams for help were answered by a neighbor who came to her rescue. Berry's 911 call has been played hundreds of times on TV and radio networks.
Castro has also been charged with kidnapping Amanda Berry's 6-year-old daughter (Jocelyn); however, if Castro fathered the child is it really kidnapping? Perhaps no one other than legal scholars will question the wisdom of such a charge; however, the charging information on this count seems technically flawed. Since Jocelyn is the daughter of Castro and there is no custody order to the contrary, it would appear that kidnapping is an erroneous charge. Child abuse, child neglect etc are perhaps more appropriate charges.
What went on behind closed doors in this Seymour Avenue home? The media describes beatings, chained confinement, starvation and death threats. If true, Castro is either a beast or he is mentally ill. In either case, he is not likely to ever be on the street again. Castro also allegedly impregnated Knight five times and then allegedly starved her until she miscarried. Castro also allegedly forced Knight to deliver Berry's baby in a plastic kiddie pool. Castro allegedly threatened Knight if the newborn died. (Seems a bit inconsistent that Castro wanted Berry's offspring but not Knight's.)
Did Castro act alone? Castro's brothers were originally detained by police but have not been charged with any crime associated with the victims. Victor Perez, chief deputy prosecutor for Cleveland, said there is no evidence that either brother were involved in any crimes against the women. Consequently, so far all accounts seem to indicate that Castro acted alone when he lured the victims into his car on separate occasions ten years ago. Castro apparently secretly kept the girls in his west Cleveland home. At one time or another, all three females were chained up in the basement. In later years, all three were allowed to live on the second floor without restraints. Nevertheless, the women exited Castro's home just twice since their kidnapping.
So how are they doing now? Knight, 32, remains in a Cleveland hospital. Berry, 27, and DeJesus, 23, are home reunited with friends and family.
What do we know of Ariel Castro? Grimilda Figueroa is the mother of four of his children. In 2005, Figueroa obtained a protective order against Castro after he allegedly broke her nose, ribs, and dislocated her shoulder. Since 1997, Figueroa had sole custody of Castro's children. The protective order barred Castro from coming near Figueroa or the children. A judge dissolved the protective order on November 21, 2005.
While Castro is to be presumed innocent, it is unlikely he will avoid life in prison or a mental institute. While he appears to be a beast, he is likely a sick mentally ill bully who needs a permanent vacation from society.
Update September 4, 2013: Ariel Castro apparently hung himself last night while in jail.
Update July 30, 2014: A year ago Michelle Knight, Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus escaped the torture of Ariel Castro when Berry and her then 6-year old daughter escaped to a neighbor's home . While one might expect such torture in a foreign land, this nightmare occurred in Cleveland, Ohio. Michelle was treated different than her fellow captives. She was physically and mentally tormented by Castro from August 2002, when Castro lured Knight, then 21, into his home with the promise of a puppy, to May 6, 2013.