Ariel Castro, 53, the former Cleveland bus driver convicted of raping and kidnapping Amanda Berry, 27, Gina Dejesus, 23, and Michelle Knight, 32, was found hanging in his prison cell at the Correction Reception Center in Orient, Ohio. His death is being reported as a suicide.
JoEllen Smith, spokesperson for the Ohio Department of Corrections, released the following statement:
Inmate Ariel Castro was found hanging in his cell this evening at 9:20 pm at the Correctional Reception Center in Orient. He was housed in protective custody which means he was in a cell by himself and rounds are required every 30 minutes at staggered intervals. Upon finding inmate Castro, prison medical staff began performing life saving measures. Shortly after he was transported to OSUMC where he was pronounced dead at 10:52 pm. A thorough review of this incident is underway and more information can be provided as it becomes available pending the status of the investigation.
Berry disappeared at the age of 16 on April, 21, 2003; DeJesus disappeared almost one year later at the age of 14 while walking home from school. Initial reports claimed that Knight disappeared in 1990, but later reports confirmed that she went missing in 2002 at the age of 20.
Ariel Castro along with brothers Pedro Castro, 54, Onil Castro, 50, were initially arrested, but it was later determined that Ariel acted alone.
Charles Ramsey, Castro’s neighbor who heard screaming from the house, was catapulted to stardom when he saved the three women from the house on May 6. Though fame knocked on his door, he said that he was just doing what anyone would do and didn’t want recognition for his actions.
“I don’t even want it,” Ramsey said of the attention. “They keep saying I’m a hero. Let me tell you something, I’m an American, and I’m a human being. I’m just like you. I work for a living. There was a woman in distress, so why turn your back on that?”
Castro pleaded guilty to 937 counts, including kidnapping, rape, assault and aggravated murder. He was also accused of aggravated murder of a fetus for forcibly causing one of the women to abort a baby he allegedly fathered and avoided the death penalty with the plea.
Castro, who also fathered a 6-year-old girl, Jocelyn, with Amanda Berry while she was held in captivity, was sentenced on Aug. 1 to life in prison plus 1000 years for his heinous crimes.
Listen to Castro speak in his defense during his sentencing hearing: