Ariel Castro committed suicide, did not die in sexual act, report says

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Ariel Castro, the Cleveland bus driver who held three women captive for years before they escaped, committed suicide by hanging in his cell and did not die of autoerotic asphyxiation, consultants to the Ohio prison system determined, according to a report released on Tuesday.

The 25-page report, by consultants Lindsay M. Hayes and Fred Cohen for the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, examined the incidence of suicides in the state prison system where 32 people killed themselves in the five-year period beginning in 2009. Ten suicides were reported this year, the report states.

The consultants looked at two cases in-depth including the high-profile case of Castro, who was found hanging in his cell on Sept. 3 with his shorts around his ankles. Prison officials noted that it was unclear what that meant, but the case was turned over to the Ohio State Highway Patrol “for consideration of the possibility of autoerotic asphyxiation,” the report said.


During autoerotic asphyxiation, the individual seeks a sexual thrill by choking himself into unconsciousness.

The consultants said that all of the evidence pointed to suicide, including how Castro arranged his family pictures and a Bible in the cell. Subsequent reviews by the Ohio State Highway Patrol and the Franklin County coroner reached the same conclusion, the report said.

“In conclusion, based upon the fact that this inmate was going to remain in prison for the rest of his natural life under the probability of continued perceived harassment and threats to his safety, his death was not predictable on September 3, 2013, but his suicide was not surprising and perhaps inevitable,” the report states.

Castro, 53, pleaded guilty to kidnapping three women from the streets of Cleveland from 2002 to 2004. The victims were 14, 16 and 20, and were kept in Castro’s house, chained in rooms and sometimes in the basement and repeatedly sexually abused. One of the women gave birth to a child fathered by Castro.
The women were rescued May 6 when one of them broke through a door and called for help.

Castro told a judge at his sentencing that he was addicted to sex and pornography. “I’m not a monster. I’m sick,” he said in August before the judge handed down a sentence of 1,000 years in prison.

A month later, Castro was found kneeling in his cell with his pants down and hanging from a sheet attached to a window hinge. Some inmates — who had not seen Castro — suggested that his pants slipped because of his 10-pound weight loss since entering prison, the report said. But one nurse interviewed by the consultants said Castro was completely naked, and a supervisor said it was not uncommon for Castro to be naked in his cell, according to the report.

The conditions and the bizarre nature of Castro’s crime led officials to examine whether he had died of autoerotic asphyxiation. A prison after-action report had noted the circumstances, prison system spokeswoman JoEllen Smith told the Los Angels Times by telephone on Tuesday.


“We were trying to present the findings and circumstance around the incident,” she said, adding that the agency was not tying to determine the cause of Castro’s death. “Those facts were presented to the patrol for consideration. The Franklin County Coroner determined the cause of death as a suicide and that was never disputed by DRC.”

Castro underwent several mental health assessments, the report stated, but none indicated that Castro was a suicide risk, the report said. Castro was supposed to be checked every 30 minutes.

Some of those checks were not carried out, however. Two prison guards were placed on paid administrative leave during the state’s investigation into Castro’s death. The Department of Rehabilitation and Correction alleged that the two falsified logs documenting the number of times guards checked on Castro before he died.

The falsification did not contribute to Castro’s death, the report found.

The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction is committed to following recommendations in the report, spokeswoman Smith said in a statement. Those recommendations include beefing up staff training on suicide prevention.


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