Thursday, May 9, 2013

Judge imposes $8 million bail on accused kidnapper

Ariel Castro appears in court Thursday morning. (John Gress/Reuters)Ariel Castro appears in court Thursday morning. (John Gress/Reuters)
A Cleveland judge set bail at $8 million this morning at a brief hearing for Ariel Castro, the Cleveland man accused of kidnapping and keeping three young women as captives for a decade.
Cleveland Municipal Judge Lauren C. Moore set bail at $2 million per charge, an amount that indicated the judge wants to keep Castro in jail. He was ordered not to have any contact with the three women or their families.
Castro, 52, is charged with four counts of kidnapping and three counts of rape. Police say Castro held Amanda Berry, 27, Gina DeJesus, 23, and Michelle Knight, 32, at his west side Cleveland home. The women were reportedly restrained with ropes and chains. Court documents indicate Castro repeatedly raped the women over the past decade.
Knight, now 32, was taken Aug. 22, 2002. Berry, now 27, was kidnapped April 21, 2003, and DeJesus on April 2, 2004.
Berry, who went missing 10 years ago after leaving her job at a nearby fast-food restaurant, was able to escape from Castro's home with her 6-year-old daughter, Jocelyn, on Monday. After she called police, DeJesus and Knight were able to escape, too.
Court records show that in each case, Castro lured the women into his car and took them to his Seymour Avenue home on the city's west side. He is accused of repeatedly raping the three women up until their escape.
Castro, along with his brothers, Pedro, 54, and Onil, 50, were arrested on Monday. Onil and Pedro Castro have not been charged. However, they were due to appear before the same judge on outstanding misdemeanor warrants.
Deputy Police Chief Ed Tomba told reporters on Wednesday that the women, as well as Ariel Castro, have given lengthy statements to police. The women had several miscarriages during their captivity, police said. Berry gave birth to a daughter Dec. 25, 2006.
Police said the girl was born in an inflatable swimming pool. The fourth kidnapping charge against Castro came from holding the girl, whom court papers identify as Jane Doe, in captivity as well.
During their captivity, the women had been let outside twice to walk from the Castro house to the garage in the rear of the house. The women were forced to wear disguises on those occasions, he said.
City Councilman Brian Cummins, who was briefed by police on the investigation, told the Associated Press that the three women were subjected to prolonged sexual and psychological abuse. He said the women suffered multiple miscarriages while kidnapped.
While Knight remains in a local hospital, both Berry and DeJesus were escorted home by police motorcades to raucous crowds on Wednesday.
Berry and her daughter went to Berry's sister’s home, while DeJesus returned to her parents' tan bungalow. Both families live in the city's west side neighborhood, just a few miles from the ramshackle row house where they were apparently held as prisoners.
Berry’s sister, Beth Serrano, briefly addressed the crowd outside her home and said that Berry needed time to recover before talking publicly about her ordeal.
“At this time our family would request privacy so my sister, niece and I have time to recover,” Serrano said. “We appreciate all you have done for us for the past 10 years. Please respect our privacy until we are ready to make our statement."
Later in the day, DeJesus, wearing a bright yellow hoodie was quickly taken inside her home without speaking or showing her face. She was seen giving a thumbs-up to the crowd of reporters and onlookers assembled outside.
Her parents, Felix DeJesus and Nancy Ruiz, and aunt Sandra Ruiz thanked the police and FBI for their assistance in the investigation. They asked for patience and promised to take questions from reporters soon.
“The three of them are doing great. Those were miracles," Nancy Ruiz said of her daughter, Berry and Knight.
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