UPDATE 5:30 p.m. Orin and Pedro Castro, Ariel’s brothers, have been cleared of any involvement with the kidnapping, according to Deputy Chief Ed Tomba.
The prime suspect in the case involving three women who were abducted and held for around a decade reportedly had a darker side.
Neighbors described Ariel Castro, 52, as outgoing, who loved playing with children, played bass guitar, and some said he even helped post up fliers for a missing woman he allegedly abducted.
“Nobody in the neighborhood or in the family could imagine that something like this would happen,” relative Julio Castro was quoted by ABC News as saying.
Castro, who owned the house where the three missing women were held, and his two brothers were arrested and detained on Monday. Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus, and Michelle Knight were found in his house on the west side of Cleveland.
The brothers allegedly abducted, raped, and sexually abused the three women over the past decade.
Ariel Castro abused his family to such a degree that the mother of his children, Grimilda Figueroa, moved herself and her four children out of the house in 1996 after years of violent abuse, Anthony Castro, one of the children, told the Daily Mail.
Figueroa said that Castro broke her nose, broke her ribs, caused a brain blood clot, and knocked out her teeth. He also allegedly threatened to kill her, according to records obtained by USA Today. The Castro family came to Cleveland from Puerto Rico.
One of his Castro’s daughters, Emily Castro, is spending 25 years in prison for attempted murder of her infant daughter. Court records said she suffered from manic depression, and on 2007, she slashed her infant’s throat four times and attempted to kill herself.
Anthony Castro said that his father beat Figueroa. “Having that relationship with my dad all these years when we lived in a house where there was domestic violence and I was beaten as well… we never were really close because of that and it was also something we never really talked about,” he said. The younger Castro said he hasn’t been inside his father’s home for more than 20 minutes since the late ’90s.
Some neighbors and relatives knew Castro as a withdrawn man.
Castro relative Juan Alicea told ABC that he was very private and rarely let people inside his home. He also did not have much of a social life.
“He’d never have anyone come over,” Alicea said. “He’d never had [a] social life unless they were outside on the porch or something, as far as I know.”
Others said Castro seemed like a normal guy who didn’t attract much attention.
Juan Perez, 27, who lived near Castro said that if he had a dark side to him, he hid it well.
“I mean, parents trusted him. He talked to the parents. He was just a regular guy on the street. He put on that great mask that everyone thought he was a good guy,” he told ABC.
Charles Ramsey, the next door neighbor to Castro who rescued the three girls, said in an interview uploaded to YouTube that he just knew Castro as a guy who went out back to let his dogs out, and work on his motorcycle. “Not a clue that a girl was in that house, or anybody else against their will,” he said. “He’s somebody you look at, and you look away because he’s not doing nothing but the average stuff, there’s nothing exciting about him.”
Cousin Maria Castro Montes told NBC News: “We are just so sorry for everything that they had to endure,” adding that “we want them to know that if they ever need anything, we are here for them.”
But she said there were no reasons to believe the brothers were behind the kidnappings.
The three women told investigators that they were subjected to rapes, pregnancies, and miscarriages while they were held captive, reported NBC News, citing police sources.
A police official said the women were held with chains and ropes in a dungeon-like environment.
The women told investigators they were kept isolated from one another in locked rooms.