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Ariel Castro charged with kidnapping, rape in Cleveland case

Police say they 'don't anticipate any other victims'

Posted: May 8, 2013 5:25 PM ET

Last Updated: May 8, 2013 9:34 PM ET

A prosecutor in Cleveland says Ariel Castro, the man who owned the house where police believe three women were detained for years, is being charged with four counts of kidnapping and three counts of rape.

No charges have been filed against Castro's brothers, Onil, 50, and Pedro, 54, who were taken into custody after the women were found. Cleveland police Deputy Chief Ed Tomba and prosecutor Victor Perez both said there is nothing to lead investigators to believe Ariel Castro's brothers were involved in or had any knowledge of the alleged crimes.

"As far as what their relationship was, Ariel kept everybody at a distance," Tomba said Wednesday evening.

The three women — Michelle Knight, 32, Amanda Berry, 27 and Gina DeJesus, about 23 — were found Monday at a home in Cleveland. They had all disappeared roughly a decade ago. A young girl, Berry's daughter, was also rescued from the home.

Tomba said there will be a paternity test to determine who the child's father is.

"There was a search warrant executed on the suspect to obtain his DNA," the deputy police chief said.

Tomba said Castro, 52, waived his Miranda rights and provided investigators with a detailed statement.

"As of right now, we don't anticipate any other victims … where he's the suspect."

Law enforcement officials left many questions unanswered, including how the women were taken captive.

'Only opportunity' to escape

The women were discovered after Berry managed to escape and call 911 with the assistance of neighbours.

Berry's escape on Monday was the "only opportunity" the women had to get free, Tomba said.

Tomba said the women were not held in one room, but they did know each other and knew that others were in the house.

Investigators took more than 200 items into evidence after a search of the house on Seymour Avenue, but Tomba declined to offer specifics about what they gathered, saying the investigation is ongoing.

But police said earlier in the day that the women were apparently bound with ropes and chains. According to The Associated Press, a city council member briefed on the case, Brian Cummins, said that they were subjected to prolonged sexual and psychological abuse and suffered miscarriages.

The women were initially sent to a local medical centre, but Berry and DeJesus have since returned to their families, passing through large cheering crowds and throngs of reporters.

DeJesus's mother, Nancy Ruiz, said she wanted to thank everybody who believed in her.

"Even the ones that doubted, I still want to thank them the most, because they're the ones that made me stronger, the ones that made me feel the most that my daughter was out there," she said.

Felix DeJesus said he wanted to continue as an activist, helping other missing children.

The third captive, Michelle Knight, 32, was reported in good condition at Metro Health Medical Center, which a day earlier had reported that all three victims had been released. There was no immediate explanation from the hospital.

Police reviewed records

Police have faced some questions about how they handled the case over the years and whether there were missed opportunities to find the missing women.

On Tuesday, some neighbours said that they had told police years ago about hearing pounding on the doors of the home and seeing a naked woman crawling in the yard.

Martin Flask, who handles public safety for Cleveland, said that "immediately after" the women and the young girl were recovered, officials started a search of records to "determine whether or not there were any other calls for service to that house on Seymour."

He said the review found there were "no other calls, except one call for service in 2000."

Knight went missing in 2002, Berry went missing in 2003 and De Jesus went missing in 2004

He said Cleveland police were at the home once in 2004, for an incident that involved Castro's work as a school bus driver for the city.

Flask said statements from the victims and the suspect suggest there's "no evidence" the women were ever outside the yard in chains.

"In fact, I think the evidence that we've obtained thus far indicates in the last decade, they've only known themselves to be outside the home on two separate occasions, and that was only briefly."

Tomba said the women could remember being outside only twice during their entire time in captivity. "We were told they left the house and went into the garage in disguise," he said.

Law enforcement officials said Castro was from Puerto Rico, but the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that he was raised in the Cleveland area. Neighbours say Castro played bass guitar in salsa and merengue bands and gave neighbourhood children rides on his motorcycle.

Marie Castro Montes, a niece of Ariel Castro, said the accused fooled their family.

"Gina and Amanda and Michelle — what they went through is horrific," she said. "They survived, and they are heroes, and they are alive and we are elated."

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With files from The Associated Press

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