"He would go creeping downstairs, not telling her that he's home, spying on her," Caraballo said. "See who she's calling. Next thing you know, he'll pop upstairs."
Monica Stephens, Castro's former daughter-in-law, married Castro's son in 2004 but split from him in 2006. On Thursday, she recalled how her ex-husband told her that he and his mother were beaten by Castro.
"They were like hostages in their own house," she said.
Castro, to frighten his wife, kept a mannequin wearing a dark wig propped up against a wall and sometimes drove around the neighborhood with it, relatives said.
"He threatened me lots of times with it," said Angel Caraballo, Castro's nephew, who used to play with his cousins at the house where the kidnapped women were found. "He would say, 'Act up again, you'll be in that back room with the mannequin.'"
One day, Figueroa was returning home with her arms full of groceries when Castro jumped into the doorway with the mannequin, frightening her so badly that she fell backward and smashed her head on the pavement, Elida Caraballo said.
In 1996, Castro hit Figueroa for the last time, family members said. After one particularly bad beating, Figueroa ran outside with one of her sons, crying out to neighbors just as the captive women did on Monday, Caraballo said.
"The neighbors went across the street to get her," Caraballo said. "And that was the last time she ever stepped in the house."
Farrington reported from Florida.