May 9, 2013

Cleveland police: Women left captor's home twice in a decade

Meghan Barr and Thomas J. Sheeran / The Associated Press

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Ismail Figueroa, whose daughter was with Ariel Castro for years and had four children with him, explains why he wasn't surprised by Castro's arrest this week on suspicion of imprisoning three women in his house for a decade. Figueroa, 75, says Castro regularly locked his daughter inside an apartment when they were first together years ago and wouldn't let her leave.

AP

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This undated photo released by the Cleveland Police Department shows Ariel Castro, the 52-year-old former school bus driver suspected of keeping three women captive inside his decrepit house for a decade. He was charged Wednesday with four counts of kidnapping and three counts of rape.

AP

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Castro was in custody and couldn't be reached for comment. A brother-in-law has said the family was shocked after hearing about the women at the home.

Few people in Cleveland, outside the families of the women, thought there was any chance they were still alive.

Berry, 27, and Gina DeJesus, who is in her early 20s, were welcomed home Wednesday by jubilant crowds of loved ones and neighbors with balloons and banners. Family members hustled them inside, past hundreds of reporters and onlookers.

Neither woman spoke.

"This is the best Mother's Day I could ever have," said Nancy Ruiz, Gina's mother. She said she hugged her daughter and didn't want to let go.

Ruiz said she spent time with all three women after they were rescued. "There's no word to describe the beauty of just seeing them," she said.

DeJesus' father pumped his fist after arriving home with his daughter, and urged people across the country to watch over the children in their neighborhoods — including other people's kids.

"Too many kids these days come up missing, and we always ask this question: How come I didn't see what happened to that kid? Why? Because we chose not to," he said.

The third captive, Michelle Knight, 32, was reported in good condition at Metro Health Medical Center, which a day earlier had reported that all three victims had been released. There was no immediate explanation from the hospital.

The Associated Press does not usually identify people who may be victims of sexual assault, but the names of the women were widely circulated by their families, friends and law enforcement authorities for years during their disappearance.

Castro was accused of twice breaking the nose of his children's mother, knocking out a tooth, dislocating each shoulder and threatening to kill her and her daughters, according to a 2005 domestic-violence filing in Cuyahoga County Domestic Relations Court.

The filing for a protective order by Grimilda Figueroa also said that Castro frequently abducted her daughters and kept them from her. Figueroa died in April 2012 after a battle with cancer.

Figueroa's father, Ismail Figueroa, said Wednesday that Castro would regularly lock his daughter inside a second-floor apartment in the house where they lived when they were first together.

Later, when they moved a few blocks to the house Castro purchased — the house from which, years later, the women would escape — he kept a close eye on her and refused to let people come inside to visit her or even let her pick up their children from school, said Angel Villanueva, who is married to Grimilda Figueroa's sister.

Grimilda was "not allowed to go nowhere," said Villanueva. No matter where she wanted to go, "it had to be with him."

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Amanda Berry returned to the home of her sister on Wednesday.

AP

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A sign hangs on the porch of the home where Amanda Berry went on Wednesday. As word of Berry's homecoming spread, a large crowd swelled in the street outside the home decorated with dozens of balloons, and homemade signs, one reading "We Never Lost Hope Mandy."

AP

 


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