Prosecutor: Kidnapped Ohio women kept diaries

2013-08-01 09:04
Michelle Knight, one of three women held captive in a Cleveland home for a decade speaks in a video in which all three thank the public. (News24, YouTube)

Michelle Knight, one of three women held captive in a Cleveland home for a decade speaks in a video in which all three thank the public. (News24, YouTube)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories


Kidnapped Cleveland women say thank you

2013-07-09 08:21

Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight used this video to say "thank you" to those who supported them after their dramatic rescue from captivity. Watch.WATCH

Cleveland — Three women held captive in a run-down home for a decade kept diaries documenting the horrific physical and sexual abuse they suffered on a daily basis, prosecutors said.

The women's kidnapper, Ariel Castro, lured one of them into his Cleveland home with the promise of a puppy for her son and later locked all of them in a vehicle in his garage for three days when someone visited him, prosecutors said. Castro, a former school bus driver, claimed he didn't have an exit strategy from his complicated double life and finally gave the women a chance to escape by leaving a door unlocked, they said in a court document.

One of the women broke free in May and called for help, frantically telling an emergency dispatcher, "I've been kidnapped, and I've been missing for 10 years, and I'm, I'm here. I'm free now."

Castro has pleaded guilty to 937 counts, including kidnapping, rape, assault and aggravated murder. He's being sentenced on Thursday.

Cuyahoga County prosecutor Tim McGinty said in a sentencing memorandum filed on Wednesday that Castro, who chained his captives by their ankles and fed them only one meal a day, "admits his disgusting and inhuman conduct" but "remains remorseless for his actions". The memorandum says many of the charges in Castro's indictment reflect conduct documented by one of the women in her diary.

In the memorandum, prosecutors describe the horrific conditions the women endured at Castro's hands. The women's diaries, they say, "document abuse and life as a captive".

Horrific details

"The entries speak of forced sexual conduct, of being locked in a dark room, of anticipating the next session of abuse, of the dreams of someday escaping and being reunited with family, of being chained to a wall, of being held like a prisoner of war," the memorandum says.

When Castro was arrested, his attorneys said evidence would show he wasn't a monster. The county prosecutor says the facts he'll present on Thursday at Castro's sentencing, at which Castro faces life in prison plus 1 000 years, will prove the lawyers wrong.

"You'll make the same logical judgment when you see the facts," McGinty said last week after Castro pleaded guilty. "You have not seen the evidence yet."

The legal team representing the women's interests declined to comment on whether they would testify or send statements to the court. Castro's defence team had no immediate comment on Wednesday.

The women disappeared separately between 2002 and 2004, when they were 14, 16 and 20 years old.

Many horrific details of the women's ordeal had already emerged, with one woman forced to wear a motorcycle helmet while chained in the basement and, after she tried to escape, having a vacuum cord wrapped around her neck.

Stockholm syndrome

Castro repeatedly starved and beat one of the victims each time she was pregnant, forcing her to miscarry five times.

He forced that woman on threat of death to safely deliver the child he fathered with another victim on Christmas Day 2006. That day, prosecutors say, Castro raped the woman who helped deliver his daughter.

Prosecutors will ask the judge to prohibit Castro from ever seeing his daughter, now 6 years old.

McGinty says experts also will discuss the Stockholm syndrome to explain how Castro was able to keep the women captive for so long. The syndrome describes situations in which hostages and victims of abduction begin to sympathise with their captors and even defend them. It was named for a 1973 bank hostage situation in Stockholm, Sweden.

Castro so terrified the women that the day they were rescued, two of them were initially afraid to emerge even with five police officers in the house, McGinty said. When they did, they clung to police so tightly the officers couldn't use their flashlights, he said.

"That told me what fear this man put into these women and how much courage it took to survive this ordeal," McGinty said.

He also referred to the "mental and physical bond and barrier" that the first woman who escaped, Amanda Berry, had the courage to break.

Berry, aged 27, made a surprise onstage appearance at a rap concert last weekend, and a second victim, Gina DeJesus, aged 23, made a few televised comments as a privacy fence was erected around her house. The third victim, Michelle Knight, 32, appeared with Berry and DeJesus in a video in early July thanking the community for its support.

Read more on:    ariel castro  |  us  |  cleveland kidnappings

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.