$8 million bail for Cleveland kidnapping suspect
CLEVELAND — A man accused of kidnapping and raping three women later found alive in his home after a decade of captivity was ordered held on $8 million bail Thursday.
The man, Ariel Castro, 52, appeared in court for the first time since his arrest during an arraignment hearing in municipal court in Cleveland. Castro did not speak and kept his head down and his eyes lowered during the proceedings.
The hearing came a day after Castro was charged with the rape and kidnapping of Amanda Berry, held 10 years; Gina DeJesus, held nine years; and Michelle Knight, held 11 years. He was also charged in the kidnapping of the 6-year-old daughter Berry gave birth to during her captivity; the authorities said he would undergo a paternity test. The judge, Lauren Moore, set his bail at $2 million for each of the four cases.
Prosecutors described the decade of abuse as a “horrifying ordeal,” in which the women were beaten, bound, restrained and sexually assaulted. Castro’s lawyer argued for a lower bond, noting that he had lived in the city for 39 years and had no prior felony convictions.
Castro’s brothers Onil Castro, 50, and Pedro Castro, 54, also appeared in court Thursday morning to sort out prior misdemeanor charges not related to the kidnapping case. The judge released the two brothers. Pedro Castro was fined $100 after pleading no contest to an open-container charge. The charges against Onil Castro for drug abuse and having an open container were dismissed.
New details continued to emerge Thursday about the kidnappings, including how the women were initially abducted. In each case, the women accepted Castro’s offer of a ride home while they were walking down the street, according to a police report that included the first statements the women gave after their rescue. The report had a chilling detail: Castro’s daughter was a close friend of one of the victims.
Berry was 17 when she was abducted as she left her job at a Burger King. Castro gained her trust by telling her that his son worked for the fast-food chain and offered her a ride home, according to the police report, which was obtained by The New York Times.
DeJesus, who was only 14 when she disappeared, was friends with Castro’s daughter Arlene Castro. Ariel Castro approached her with his daughter on April 2, 2004, according to the account DeJesus gave police. Shortly after, “Ariel came back without his daughter, and told Gina he would give her a ride to his house to meet up with his daughter,” the report said.
The accounts by DeJesus and the other women were made immediately after officers freed them from Ariel Castro’s sealed-up house on Seymour Avenue, as they sat in a police vehicle. Since Castro’s arrest, news accounts have focused on the connections between the Castro and DeJesus families, including reports that Castro attended a vigil for the missing girl.