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Ariel Castro, captor of Cleveland, Ohio, women, dies in prison

Ariel Castro, who was serving a life term for holding three women captive for a decade, is found hanged, officials say. He was alone in protective custody.

September 03, 2013
  • Ariel Castro, found dead in his prison cell, had held three women captive for about a decade.
Ariel Castro, found dead in his prison cell, had held three women captive… (Tony Dejak / Associated…)

Ariel Castro, the man who had been sentenced to spend his life in prison for holding three Cleveland women captive for roughly a decade, was found hanged in his cell Tuesday night, Ohio officials said.

Castro, 53, was discovered at 9:20 p.m. at the Ohio Correctional Reception Center in Orient, according to the Ohio Department of Corrections. Prison medical staffers began performing life-saving measures, and Castro was transported to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 10:52.

Castro was sentenced Aug. 1 to life in prison plus 1,000 years on his guilty¿ plea to 937 counts including kidnapping and rape. He had been housed in protective custody in a cell by himself, and guards are required to make rounds every 30 minutes, a corrections department statement said.

"A thorough review of this incident is underway," officials said.

The three women disappeared separately from 2002 to 2004. They escaped May 6, when one of them broke part of a door and yelled to neighbors for help. Castro was arrested that evening.

Justice was swift for Castro after Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight were rescued by neighbors.

Berry gave birth to a daughter, now 6, fathered by Castro while she was held in brutal conditions in his home, which was later demolished.

Castro, who pleaded guilty ostensibly to avoid the death penalty, gave a lengthy farewell at his sentencing a few weeks ago in a rambling speech and claimed the abuse included consensual sex.

During court hearings, officers told of how the women were chained to poles in the basement or to a bedroom heater. One woman was forced to wear a motorcycle helmet while chained in the basement and, after she tried to escape, had a vacuum cord wrapped around her neck, officials said.

Castro repeatedly starved and beat Knight each time she was pregnant, forcing her to miscarry five times, authorities said. Castro also forced Knight to deliver on Christmas Day 2006 the child he fathered with Berry.

That same day, prosecutors said, Castro raped Knight yet again.

Knight, the only one of his victims to ultimately face him in court, would not forgive Castro, saying that he tormented her "constantly, especially on holidays."

"I spent 11 years in hell," she told Castro at his sentencing.

"Now your hell is just beginning," she said. "I will overcome all that happened, but you're going to face hell for eternity."

matt.pearce@latimes.com

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