Cleveland kidnap suspect father of girl, DNA shows

Captive’s daughter escaped with others from home

5/11/2013
ASSOCIATED PRESS
Culema Nevarez adds balloons Friday to a growing tribute outside the Cleveland home of Gina DeJesus, who was freed Monday from the home of Ariel Castro.
Culema Nevarez adds balloons Friday to a growing tribute outside the Cleveland home of Gina DeJesus, who was freed Monday from the home of Ariel Castro.

CLEVELAND — A DNA test has confirmed that kidnapping and rape suspect Ariel Castro is the father of a 6-year-old girl who escaped along with three women who were imprisoned in his house for about a decade, a prosecutor said Friday.

Castro provided by the Cuyahoga County Sheriff's office shows the Cuyahoga County Corrections Center booking photo of Ariel Castro, 52, after he was ordered to be held on $8 million bail Thursday, May 9, 2013, in Cleveland. Castro, a former school bus driver, is accused of imprisoning three young women and beating them repeatedly over a decade in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Cuyahoga County)
Castro provided by the Cuyahoga County Sheriff's office shows the Cuyahoga County Corrections Center booking photo of Ariel Castro, 52, after he was ordered to be held on $8 million bail Thursday, May 9, 2013, in Cleveland. Castro, a former school bus driver, is accused of imprisoning three young women and beating them repeatedly over a decade in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Cuyahoga County)

As the investigation of the case continued, the FBI said no human remains were among more than 200 pieces of evidence collected from the house.

Two of the women, including the one who gave birth to the girl, returned to relatives’ houses earlier this week.

The third woman, Michelle Knight, was released from a hospital Friday with a request that her privacy be respected.

“Michelle Knight is in good spirits and would like the community to know that she is extremely grateful for the outpouring of flowers and gifts,” the statement said.

No information would be provided about Ms. Knight’s next steps, said Phyllis Marino, spokesman for MetroHealth Medical Center spokesman.

A missing-person report on Ms. Knight filed one day after she disappeared in 2002 said without elaboration that she had a mental condition and was often confused about her surroundings.

Ms. Knight, now 32, was removed from a national missing persons database in 2003 after Cleveland police couldn’t locate anyone to confirm whether she was still missing, based on police policy in such cases, the department said Friday.

“Despite this, Cleveland police kept Michelle Knight’s missing person’s case open and checked on the case numerous times,” the city said Friday. “Records indicated Cleveland police checked on the case as recently as November.”

Castro remained in jail under a suicide watch on $8 million bond while prosecutors weighed what charges they might bring against him, including the possibility of charges carrying a death penalty.

He currently is charged with rape and kidnapping.

Castro was represented at Thursday’s hearing by public defender Kathleen Demetz, who said she is acting as Castro’s adviser if needed until he’s appointed a full-time attorney once he’s charged by a grand jury.

She said Friday that she can’t speak to his guilt or innocence and said only that she advised him not to give any media interviews that might jeopardize his case.

Family members have portrayed Castro as a “monster” who terrorized the mother of his children, beating her, playing twisted psychological games, and locking her indoors.

A police report alleged that Castro impregnated one of his captives at least five times and made her miscarry by starving her and punching her stomach. The report also said another one of the women, Amanda Berry, was forced to give birth in a plastic kiddie pool.

Tests by the state attorney general’s office on a sample of Castro’s DNA confirmed that he is the father of Ms. Berry’s 6-year-old daughter, who was rescued from his house, the office said.

The girl has returned home with Ms. Berry, 27. Officials also were entering the DNA profile into a national database to see if it links him to other crimes.

The three women said Castro chained them in the basement but eventually let them live on the home’s second floor. Each woman told a similar story about being abducted after accepting a ride from him.

Ms. Berry and former captive Gina DeJesus, 22, went home with relatives Wednesday.