(Columbus) - Ohio corrections officials say Ariel Castro, who held three women captive in his house for nearly a decade, has committed suicide at a state prison facility.
Spokeswoman JoEllen Smith says 53-year-old Castro was found hanging in his cell around 9:20 p.m. Tuesday at the Correctional Reception Center in Orient. Prison medical staff performed CPR before Castro was transported to a hospital in Columbus, where he was pronounced dead.
Franklin County Coroner Dr. Jan Gorniak confirms to Newsradio WTAM 1100 Castro died from suicide by hanging. Dr. Gorniak says Castro hanged himself with a bed sheet inside his cell.
Mayor Frank Jackson released a statement: “Our focus remains on the well-being of the survivors of Seymour Avenue. It is our sincere hope that they will continue to heal and recover. I ask the community to continue to respect the privacy of the survivors so that they can move forward with their lives.”
On May 6th of this year, Amanda Berry, Georgina "Gina" DeJesus and Michelle Knight were rescued from being held captive in a house on Seymour Avenue on Cleveland's west side owned by Castro. Knight had gone missing in 2002 at age 21, Berry in 2003 at age 16 and DeJesus in 2004 at the age of 14. A six-year old daughter of Berry, who had been fathered by Castro, was also rescued.
The women escaped when Berry broke part of a door and yelled to neighbors for help. Castro was arrested that evening.
Castro was sentenced Aug. 1 to life in prison plus 1,000 years on his guilty plea to 937 counts including kidnapping and rape.
Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy McGinty commented on the suicide: “These degenerate molesters are cowards. They con and capture vulnerable children. This man couldn’t take, for even a month, a small portion of what he had dished out for more than a decade. Let this be a message to other child kidnappers: There will be a heavy price to pay when you are caught. You won’t enjoy the captive side of the bars.”
Castro is the second Ohio inmate to commit suicide in the last month. 44-year-old Billy Slagle hung himself at the Chillicothe Correctional Institution in August, just days before his scheduled execution for the murder of Mari Anne Pope, his neighbor in Cleveland.
Security consultant Tim Dimoff of Akron-based SACS Consulting and Investigative Services tells WTAM 1100's Bill Wills that Castro was likely in protective custody because he was considered a possible suicide threat, but not enough of a threat to be on suicide watch. According to Dimoff, protective custody inmates are checked by a prison guard about every half hour, while suicide watch inmates are checked about every 10 minutes.
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(Copyright 2013 Clear Channel and The Associated Press, all rights reserved. Booking photo of Castro courtesy Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction.)