Hundreds of new charges filed in US kidnap case

Published on NewsOK Modified: July 13, 2013 at 3:39 am •  Published: July 13, 2013
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Castro is accused of repeatedly restraining the women, sometimes chaining them to a pole in a basement — once with a motorcycle helmet over one of the women's heads — to a bedroom heater or inside a van. It says one of the women tried to escape and he assaulted her with a vacuum cord around her neck.

Later, Castro moved them to upstairs rooms where they were kept as virtual prisoners, according to investigators.

All the while, Castro continued driving a school bus and playing bass in local bands, with fellow musicians saying they never suspected a thing. He was fired as a bus driver last fall after leaving his bus unattended for several hours.

The picture of Castro as a friendly musician began to erode soon after the women were freed, as family members told of a man who terrorized his common-law wife, beating her and locking her in an apartment and the same house where the women were later kept.

Castro was arrested May 6, shortly after one of the women broke through a door and yelled to neighbors for help.

The women — Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight — disappeared separately between 2002 and 2004, when they were 14, 16 and 20 years old. Each said they had accepted a ride from Castro, who remained friends with DeJesus' family and even attended vigils over the years marking her disappearance.

Berry, 27, told officers that she was forced to give birth in a plastic pool in the house so it would be easier to clean up. Berry said she, her baby and the two other women rescued with her had never been to a doctor during their captivity.

Knight, 32, said her five pregnancies ended after Castro starved her for at least two weeks and "repeatedly punched her in the stomach until she miscarried," authorities said.

She also said Castro forced her to deliver Berry's baby under threat of death if the baby died. She said that when the newborn stopped breathing, she revived her through mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

Castro has been held on $8 million bail. Cuyahoga County jail logs show him spending most of his time sleeping, lying on his bunk, watching TV and occasionally drawing or exercising.

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Andrew Welsh-Huggins can be reached on Twitter at https://twitter.com/awhcolumbus.