The man facing a total of one thousand years in prison for his kidnapping, rape, and abuse of three Cleveland women was found hanging in his prison cell on Sept. 4.
Ariel Castro, 53, pleaded guilty in July to 937 different charges connected to his imprisonment of the women over a decade, but lasted only a month inside his own Orient, Ohio prison cell.
“Castro was found hanging in his cell at approximately 9:20 p.m. and was pronounced dead at 10:52 p.m. at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center,” according to the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction.
“Castro was admitted to prison on August 2, 2013, and was placed in protective custody, a level of custody maintained for certain inmates that entails housing them in a single-occupancy cell and keeping them under close watch, with corrections officers making security rounds at staggered 30-minute intervals,” the department said in a statement.
The Ohio branch of the American Civil Liberties Union has requested that Castro’s death receive a full investigation, claiming that death by alleged suicide is not justice.
“The death of any individual while in state custody must be taken very seriously and fully investigated. As horrifying as Mr. Castro’s crimes may be, the state has a responsibility to ensure his safety from himself and others,” Ohio ACLU Executive Director Christine Link said in a release. “Questions remain whether Mr. Castro was properly screened for suicide risk and mental illness. Prisons officials must address these issues, not only to fully account for how Mr. Castro was able to commit suicide, but also to prevent this from occurring again.”
Department of Rehabilitation and Correction officials say a mortality review has already begun, a process which will include an investigation into whether proper steps were being taken to ensure and appropriately address Castro’s mental and medical health.
According to an FBI profile, Michelle Knight spent a total of 11 years in Castro’s house after she was kidnapped in 2002, and Gina DeJesus was just 14 when she was taken in 2004. Castro also kidnapped Amanda Berry just blocks from her home as she returned from a shift at a local fast food restaurant on Apr. 21, 2003, the day before her 17th birthday.
Aside from the torture of the three women, Castro was also charged for holding his six-year-old daughter, a product of his abuse of Berry, captive.
Since Castro’s arrest and conviction, officials have razed the Castro’s house in the 2200 block of Seymour Avenue.
“Roughly a half-acre has been cleared for whatever positive use the residents and stakeholders of the neighborhood decide to pursue,” said Timothy J. McGinty, prosecutor for Ohio’s Cuyahoga County. “The courage, perseverance and continued recovery of Castro’s victims inspires us all. The new face of Seymour Avenue should, too.”