CLEVELAND -- Chains and ropes have been removed from the home where three women were rescued on Monday after being held captive as long as 11 years, Cleveland’s chief of police said Wednesday as authorities planned to file charges against three brothers.
When asked by reporters whether the women were tortured, chief of police Michael McGrath said: “I’m not going to use the word torture out of respect. I just know that there were some chains removed and some ropes removed."
McGrath spoke while standing near the home of Ariel Castro, 52, who was arrested Monday night along with his brothers Onil, 50, and Pedro, 54. On Monday, three women who vanished separately in 2002, 2003 and 2004 were rescued from the home. and reunited with their families.
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McGrath said he expected the Castro brothers would be charged Wednesday afternoon.
Speaking on NBC's "Today" show, the police chief confirmed reports that the victims -- Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus, and Michelle Knight -- had been physically bound in the Castro home.
“They were released out in the backyard once in a while, I believe,” he told Savannah Guthrie.
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That could bolster some neighbors' claims Tuesday that they had seen at least one naked woman in Castro's backyard a couple of years ago. Police have said they have no record of calls reporting such a sighting, but neighbors have said their attempts to alert police were dismissed.
Ariel Castro’s first cousin, 45-year-old Maria Castro Montes, a hospital administrator, expressed shock and disbelief at her cousin’s alleged actions as she stood Wednesday outside his small white house in a downtrodden area about two miles from downtown Cleveland.
“He was a normal man. He was a loving cousin, a loving father a loving grandfather,” she said. “Just like any other member of a family that you think you know.”
Montes said she saw Castro at family reunions and spent time with him last fall when a mutual cousin died unexpectedly. Pedro and Onil Castro “were more of recluse types,” she said. “They really kept to themselves. They rarely came around. The one that was the most in the forefront of the family was Ariel.”
Montes said that her cousin's father remarried and had another set of children, and that she is closer to the second set of children. She also confirmed that the Castro family knows the family of Gina DeJesus.
“They’ve known my father forever,” she said. “My father has been friends with Gina’s grandfather. I’ve known Gina’s mother since I was a little girl. Our families go way back.”
Montes knew Castro’s ex-wife, Grimilda Figueroa, but not well, and did not know of any problems between the couple, she said. The Cleveland Plain Dealer reported that Figueroa, who died in 2012, had accused Castro of abusing her. A 2005 court filing alleged he had broken her nose and ribs and dislocated her shoulders.
Montes said the entire family was reeling after learning that Ariel Castro was allegedly behind the abductions.
“He cannot get away from justice. He will pay the price not only to a jury but to his Lord and maker when that day comes,” Montes said.
“These are members of our family that have committed atrocious acts against three beautiful young girls,” she said.
Semuels reported from Cleveland and Susman from New York.
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