‘Big bully’ Ariel Castro charged with rape, kidnapping

CLEVELAND -- Ariel Castro, described by police as a “big bully,” was charged Wednesday with four counts of kidnapping and three counts of rape after three women, missing for about a decade, escaped from his house this week.

Castro, 52, the owner of the house at 2207 Seymour Ave. in Cleveland, was charged in connection with the kidnappings that have shocked the city.

His brothers, Pedro, 54, and Onil, 50, who were arrested Monday along with Ariel, were not charged in connection with the disappearances, prosecutor Victor Perez said at an afternoon news conference.


All three are scheduled to appear in court Thursday, Perez said.

Ariel Castro will be arraigned on the seven charges related to the missing women. His brothers face outstanding warrants on misdemeanor charges.

Castro is charged with kidnapping and raping three women, Amanda Berry, 27, Gina DeJesus, about 23, and Michelle Knight, 32. The fourth kidnapping count applies to Amanda Berry’s 6-year-old daughter, who was born in captivity.

Officials will do tests to determine the paternity of the child, Deputy Police Chief Ed Tomba said.

After the news conference, Tomba described Ariel Castro as “the big bully.... This guy, he ran the show ... He acted alone. These guys [the brothers] didn’t have anything to do with it.”

Tomba at the news conference defended the decision to arrest Pedro and Onil Castro and the decision not to press charges.

“We had enough probable cause to bring them into custody,” Tomba said. “We found no facts to link them to the crime.

“There is nothing that leads us to believe they were involved or they had any knowledge of this, and that comes from statements of our victims, and their statements and their brother’s [Ariel’s] statements. Ariel kept everybody at a distance.”

Officials also said they had removed 200 items of evidence from the Seymour Avenue house. But the charges are mainly based on statements from the women and from Ariel Castro, who waived his rights to stay silent and talked to investigators.

“He did speak with us and provided us … with a detailed statement,” Tomba told reporters.

Asked about possible links to other missing-person cases, Tomba said: “As of right now we don’t anticipate any other victims where he is the suspect.” One such case involves Ashley Summers, who disappeared in 2007 when she was 14 years old.

Berry and DeJesus returned to their families Wednesday. Their relatives asked for privacy to allow the women to heal.

DeJesus was 14 when she disappeared 2004. Berry was just shy of her 17th birthday when she vanished in 2003. Knight, who was reportedly receiving medical care in a hospital, was 20 when she disappeared in 2002.

All were held in harsh conditions in the Seymour Avenue house, officials said, until Berry managed to break through a screen door on Monday and with the help of neighbors called police.

Semuels reported from Cleveland and Muskal from Los Angeles.


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