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Cleveland man charged with kidnap, rape; 2 victims arrive home
First Published May 08 2013 12:46 pm • Last Updated May 08 2013 05:56 pm

Cleveland • A Cleveland man arrested after three women missing for a decade were found alive at his run-down home was charged Wednesday with kidnapping and raping them. Prosecutors brought no charges against his brothers, saying there was no evidence they had any part in the crime.

Ariel Castro, 52, was charged with four counts of kidnapping — covering all three captives and the daughter born to one of them while she was held — and three counts of rape against the three women.

At a glance

Parents of once-missing woman: Watch your children

The parents of one of three missing Cleveland women found safe after years of captivity raised their arms in triumph and had a message for communities everywhere: watch your children.

Felix DeJesus and Nancy Ruiz spoke to reporters after their daughter returned home Wednesday, pumping their fists in the air in celebration as they addressed reporters.

The parents thanked law enforcement and urged people across the country to take responsibility for the children in their neighborhoods. All neighbors should be watchful to protect young people from the kind of abductions that claimed their daughter and two other women.

The parents addressed a crowd of supporters that numbered in the hundreds along the street where Gina DeJesus returned without talking to reporters.

Authorities in Ohio looking at other missing woman

Law enforcement officials in Cleveland are investigating one other missing person case in the neighborhood where three women had been held captive for years.

The aunt of a 14-year-old girl who disappeared in 2007 near the house where the missing women were found says the girl’s mother has spoken with the FBI.

But Cleveland Deputy Police Chief Ed Tomba said Wednesday that so far there is no new information linking that case to Castro.

Debra Summers says her niece, Ashley Summers, was not the type of girl who would leave without coming back.

She says the family is hoping for their miracle, too.

Ashley was 14 when she disappeared.

A 911 call led police to a house near downtown Cleveland where the three other women were found Monday.

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The former school bus driver owns the peeling home where the women were rescued on Monday, after one of them broke through a screen door while Castro apparently was away.

At a news conference, authorities gave few details on the women’s ordeal. But police said earlier in the day that they were apparently bound with ropes and chains, and a city councilman briefed on the case, Brian Cummins, said that they were subjected to prolonged sexual and psychological abuse and suffered miscarriages.

"We know that the victims have confirmed miscarriages, but with who, how many and what conditions we don’t know," Cummins said. He added: "It sounds pretty gruesome."

Deputy Police Chief Ed 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.

And their first opportunity to escape didn’t come until Monday, he said. The women were not kept in the same room, but knew they were not alone, he said.

He also said a paternity test on Castro was being done to establish who fathered the now 6-year-old child of captive Amanda Berry.

Castro was in custody and couldn’t be reached for comment. A brother-in-law has said the family was "shocked" after hearing about the women at the home.

Castro’s brothers, Pedro, 54, and Onil, 50, were also arrested after the women were rescued, but there was no evidence they had any part in the crime, Cleveland Prosecutor Victor Perez said.


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Earlier in the day, Berry and former captive Gina DeJesus were welcomed home by jubilant crowds of loved ones and neighbors with balloons and banners Wednesday. Family members protectively took them inside, past hundreds of reporters and onlookers.

Neither woman spoke, and their families pleaded for patience and time alone.

"Give us time and privacy to heal," said Sandra Ruiz, DeJesus’ aunt. Ruiz thanked police for rescuing the women and urged the public not to retaliate against the suspects or their families.

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.

The Associated Press does not usually identify people who may be victims of sexual assault, but the names of the women were widely circulated by their families, friends and law enforcement authorities for years during their disappearance.

In a development that astonished and exhilarated much of Cleveland, the three women were rescued after Berry, 27, broke through a screen door at the Castro house and told a 911 dispatcher: "Help me. I’m Amanda Berry. I’ve been kidnapped, and I’ve been missing for 10 years and I’m, I’m here, I’m free now."

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

Neighbors said that Ariel Castro took part in the search for one of the missing women, helped pass out fliers, performed music at a fundraiser for her and attended a candlelight vigil, where her comforted her mother. As recently as 2005, Castro was accused of repeated acts of violence against his children’s mother.

On NBC’s "Today" show, Police Chief Michael McGrath said he was "absolutely" sure police did everything they could to find the women over the years. He disputed claims by neighbors that officers had been called to the house before for suspicious circumstances.

"We have no record of those calls coming in over the past 10 years," McGrath said. On Tuesday, some neighbors 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.

DeJesus, who disappeared in 2004 and is in her early 20s, arrived home in the afternoon Wednesday to chants of "Gina! Gina!" Wearing a bright yellow hooded sweatshirt, she was led through the crowd and into the house by a woman who put her arm around the young woman’s shoulders and held her tight.

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