CLEVELAND — A former school bus driver being sentenced today for kidnapping three women and subjecting them to years of sexual and physical abuse left behind a letter that said “I’m a sexual predator,” an FBI agent testified.
Prosecutors detailed Ariel Castro’s assaults and law enforcement witnesses described the jury-rigged prison he built in his ramshackle home. With the possibility of the death penalty for a forced miscarriage taken off the table, Castro stands to get life in prison plus 1,000 years.
FBI agent Andrew Burke said Castro turned his house into a prison by creating a makeshift alarm system and chaining them inside bolted bedrooms.
Bedroom windows were boarded shut from the inside with heavy closet doors and doorknobs had been removed and replaced with multiple locks, he said. The house was divided in ways to make it more secure and to hide the existence of rooms, he said.
Burke also testified that Castro would occasionally pay his victims after raping them. But he then would require them to pay him if they wanted something special from the store.
The letter written by Castro was found in his home and shown in court. It read “Confession and Details” at the top.
Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Detective Dave Jacobs said he talked with Castro a few days after the women escaped and that Castro said, “I knew what I did was wrong.”
Early in the hearing, Castro tried to apologize to the victims, but after speaking with the judge said he would do that later in the proceeding.
A police officer who helped rescue the women said one was reluctant to come out of her room even when she saw the officers. They were scared even after they were taken out of the house and quickly began sharing details about the horrors they went through, saying that they had been starved and beaten.
“They were just shouting out a lot of things,” said Cleveland police officer Barb Johnson. She described the women as thin, pale and scared.
One of the victims testified today that she cried every night and that her years in captivity “turned into eternity.”
Michelle Knight says she spent 11 years in hell and that Castro’s hell is now beginning.
The 32-year-old Knight was the first woman abducted by Ariel Castro in 2002 after he lured her into his house with the promise of a puppy for her son.