Ariel Castro Did Not Die of Auto-Erotic Asphyxiation, Coroner Says

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    (CNN) — An Ohio medical examiner contradicted reports that kidnapper Ariel Castro died from auto-erotic asphyxiation.

    Franklin Country coroner Paula Gorniak’s statement Thursday night disputed allegations from Ohio corrections officials that the man who kidnapped, held captive and raped three girls for nearly 10 years, died accidentally in his jail cell.

    Castro was found in his cell dangling from a bed sheet with his pants and underwear down, corrections officials said. But that’s not enough evidence to back up the notion, Gorniak said. His pants may have slipped off while he was hanging, she said.

    Gorniak said she was not made aware that Castro was found with his pants down in the jail cell, but that does not change the cause of death.

    There were no signs that he was sexually stimulated, she said.

    “I did the autopsy myself. I saw the ligature. I saw the pictures of the cell. It was a suicide.”

    No one involved in the Ohio corrections report consulted her, she said. And she is not happy about the report.

    “They were outside of their lane…I don’t think anyone else should have an opinion on what the cause of death was,” Gorniak said.

    Castro was convicted and sentenced to life in prison plus 1,000 years. He was later found dead in his jail cell on September 3.

    A probe by the state’s department of corrections surmised that he may not have hanged himself but died by accident. It also found that two prison guards didn’t perform required rounds at the facility and falsified records.

    Castro was found in his cell with a Bible open to John Chapters 2 and 3 and “had pictures of his family out and arranged in a poster-board fashion,” according to a report released Thursday by the state Department of Rehabilitation and Correction.

    “He was hanging from a hinge in the window of his cell by a sheet wrapped around his neck. His pants and underwear were pulled down to his ankles. The relevance of this finding is unclear. These facts, however, were relayed to the Ohio State Highway Patrol for consideration of the possibility of auto-erotic asphyxiation,” the report said.

    Auto-erotic asphyxiation involves depriving the brain of oxygen by controlled strangulation to intensify a sexual experience.

    The department said “there appears to be no known, substantiated motivation for the self-inflicted death.”

    Officials “reviewed several sources of information in an attempt to determine the motivation” for the suicide since “Castro left no suicide note and had previously shown no suicidal ideations in multiple levels of assessment.”

    The lack of a note also did not impress Gorniak.

    “Accidental death just because he didn’t leave a note? There is not a note in every suicide,” she said.

    Also, the agency said, two prison guards responsible for checking on him “did not timely perform” required rounds, the department said. They appeared to have also falsified “the post log book for their rounds.”

    The information was disclosed in an “after-action review report” issued by the department.

    The guards were placed on leave as investigators looked into Castro’s suicide. Any disciplinary action, which could include termination of employment, will be determined by the Ohio State Highway Patrol at the conclusion of its investigation.

    Castro pleaded guilty in August to 937 counts, including the kidnapping of Michelle Knight, Georgina DeJesus and Amanda Berry. He held the women for roughly 10 years in his home.

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