Cleveland man faces 329 counts in captive women case
(CNN) — A man accused of kidnapping and holding captive three young women in his Cleveland house for 10 years will be arraigned this week on 329 counts.
Ariel Castro, 52, was indicted Friday in a case that shocked neighbors who never suspected anything out of the ordinary was going on in the house — and prompted Castro’s daughter to call him “the most evil, vile, demonic criminal.”
One charge accuses Castro of aggravated murder for purposely causing the unlawful termination of a pregnancy, authorities said. One of the young women was allegedly impregnated five times by Castro, and another bore a child fathered by him, police have said.
The indictment charges Castro with 139 counts of rape, 177 counts of kidnapping, seven counts of gross sexual imposition, three counts of felonious assault and one count of possession of criminal tools, Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy McGinty said in a statement.
The charges cover only half of the 10 years the three young were held captive — from August 2002, when the first of three women disappeared off a Cleveland street, to February 2007. The three women were freed last month after one shouted for help while Castro was gone from the house.
The prosecutor’s capital review committee will consider whether the case is appropriate for seeking the death penalty once the indictment process is complete, the prosecutor’s statement said.
“Today’s indictments represent a first major step in the criminal justice process,” McGinty said in a statement. “Our investigation continues, and we will present our findings to the grand jury.”
The indictment alleges that Castro taped the legs and mouth of one woman identified as Jane Doe 2 and also chained her to a pole in the basement with a motorcycle helmet placed on her head.
Castro also allegedly used a vacuum cord around her neck during a felonious assault and chained her to inside of a van, the indictment said.
Castro allegedly used chains and tape in the basement to restrain another woman identified as Jane Doe 3, the indictment said.
The victims were earlier identified by police as Michelle Knight, abducted at age 21 in August 2002; Amanda Berry, abducted at age 16 in April 2003 and who has a 6-year-old daughter by Castro; and Georgina “Gina” DeJesus, who was 14 when kidnapped in 2004.
Jim Wooley, attorney for Berry and DeJesus, and Kathy Joseph, attorney for Michelle Knight, expressed satisfaction with the indictment.
“We have a great legal system, plus confidence and faith in the prosecutor’s office and its decisions. Now, we need to stand back and let the judicial process unfold,” the attorneys said in a statement.