Autopsy: Ariel Castro hanged himself in prison cell

9:48 AM, Sep 4, 2013   |    comments
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Update 9:53 a.m.

Melanie Eversley and Doug Stanglin, USA TODAY

Ariel Castro, who was sentenced to life in prison last month for abducting and sexually abusing three young women in his Cleveland home, hanged himself in his cell Tuesday night, according to preliminary results of an autopsy performed early Wednesday.

Castro, 53, was found at 9:20 p.m. ET hanging in his cell at the Correction Reception Center in Orient, Ohio, where he was being held under protective custody.

Prison medical staff attempted lifesaving measures on the scene before he was transported to the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center and pronounced dead at 10:52 p.m. ET, according to JoEllen Smith spokesperson with the Ohio Rehabilitation and Correction department.

Franklin County coroner Dr. Jan Gorniak said preliminary results of the autopsy confirmed that Castro's death was a suicide and the cause of death was hanging. She said toxicology tests would be completed later.


Castro was not under suicide watch, but was being checked on by guards every 30 minutes.


Smith said in a statement that a "thorough review" of the incident was underway.


The former Cleveland bus driver was sentenced to life in prison plus 1,000 years on Aug. 1 for abducting three young women -- Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight -- over a 10-year period and holding them them captive in chains in his Cleveland home.

They were freed May 6 when Berry, who had a child fathered by Castro during her ordeal, managed to escape and alerted neighbors who called police to the rundown house on Seymour Ave.

Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson said the city's focus would remain on the three victims.

"It is our sincere hope that they will continue to heal and recover," he said Wednesday. "I ask the community to continue to respect the privacy of the survivors so that they can move forward with their lives."

At his sentencing, Castro apologized for his actions but also attempted to blame his acts on an obsession with sex and his own history of being abused as a child, telling the court: "I am not a monster. I'm sick."

Knight, the only victim to face Castro in court, said she would never forgive him for more than a decade of daily abuse.

"I spent 11 years in hell," she told Castro at his sentencing.

"Now your hell is just beginning," she said. "I will overcome all that happened, but you're going to face hell for eternity."

Craig Weintraub, Castro's attorney, tells NBC's TODAYshow Wednesday that his client's family was "devastated by the news"of his death.

He says relatives had visited Castro "a couple of time" since he was moved to the prison about two weeks ago.

The attorney says he realizes that many people will likely view Castro's death as"good riddance," but says he plans to "get to the bottom" of the circumstances surrounding his death. "This is a human being," he says.

Social media users reacted to the news of Castro's death with both anger and joy. On Twitter, users used the hashtag or search term #deadgiveaway to indicate they were tweeting about Castro.

One Twitter poster wrote: "Ariel Castro is gonna rot in hell."

Amid cheers from onlookers, Castro's house was torn down last month by two demolition companies free of charge after Cuyahoga County prosecutor Tim McGinty said he wanted it razed so it would not become a macabre tourist attraction.

Contributing: Yamiche Alcindor in New York, Donna Leinwand in Washington; Associated Press

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Ariel Castro, who was convicted last month on charges related to the capture and imprisonment of three women in Cleveland, has been found hanged in his prison cell, the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction said in an email.

Castro, 53, was in a cell by himself in protective custody at the Correction Reception Center in Orient, Ohio, wrote JoEllen Smith with the state corrections agency.

Castro was found at 9:20 p.m. ET in the cell, where checks are required every 30 minutes, Smith wrote in the email.

After prison medical staff attempted lifesaving measures, Castro was transported to The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center and pronounced dead at 10:52 p.m. ET, Smith wrote.

"A thorough review of this incident is underway and more information can be provided as it becomes available pending the status of the investigation," she wrote.

Castro, a former Cleveland bus driver, was sentenced to life in prison plus 1,000 years on Aug. 1 related to the kidnapping, abuse and imprisonment for more than a decade of Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight, who were held in chains. The case elicited emotions from people across the country whose hearts went out to the young women Castro pleaded guilty to kidnapping and abusing. Castro said he was not mean to the women during their captivity.

The women were captured between 2002 and 2004 and held until May 6, when Berry managed to escape and alert others.

Craig Weintraub, Castro's attorney, tells NBC's TODAY show Wednesday that his client's family was "devastated by the news."

He says relatives had visited Castro "a couple of time" since he was moved to the prison about two weeks ago.

The attorney says he realizes that many people will likely view Castro's death as"good riddance," but says he plans to "get to the bottom" of the circumstances surrounding his death. "This is a human being," he says.

Social media users reacted with anger and happiness to the news. On Twitter, users used the hashtag or search term #deadgiveaway to indicate they were tweeting about Castro.


One Twitter customer using the hashtag wrote: "Ariel Castro is gonna rot in hell."

According to his Ohio prison record, Castro was serving time for - among other charges - 473 counts of kidnapping, 446 counts of rape and one count of aggravated murder.

Amid cheers from onlookers, Castro's house was torn down last month by two demolition companies free of charge after Cuyahoga County prosecutor Tim McGinty said he wanted it razed so it would not become a macabre tourist attraction.

Contributing: Donna Leinwand in Washington

Previous Story

Ohio corrections officials say Ariel Castro who held three women captive in his home 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, where he was pronounced dead.

The three women disappeared separately between 2002 and 2004, when they were 14, 16 and 20 years old. They escaped May 6, when one of the women 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.

 

 

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