Bond set at $8M for Ariel Castro, charged with rape, kidnapping - New York News

Ohio suspect's brothers released, Ariel Castro likely on suicide watch

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

Cleveland police say the two brothers of the man accused of keeping women captive in his house have been released from custody. Ariel Castro, 52, has been put on suicide watch.

Police announced on Thursday afternoon that 54-year-old Pedro Castro and 50-year-old Onil Castro had been released from jail. Police didn't release any more information, and the men's whereabouts were not immediately known.

They were arrested Monday with Ariel Castro, who is being held on $8 million bond on charges rape and the kidnappings of Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight, as well as Berry's child born in captivity. The brothers were not charged in that case.

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Pedro Castro pleaded no contest to an unrelated open-container charge in court Monday. Two unrelated misdemeanor charges against Onil Castro were dropped.

Ariel Castro was ordered held on $8 million bond Thursday morning. He is charged with the rape and kidnapping of three women missing for about a decade, who were rescued from his Cleveland home.

Castro's federal court appearance was the first time he had been seen in public since his arrest. He looked down at the ground for nearly the entire proceeding, biting his collar and signing documents with his handcuffed hands.

"Today, the situation has turned, your honor. The captor stands before you a captive, in captivity, a prisoner. The women are free," the federal prosecutor said as the charged against Castro were read.

Castro faces four counts of kidnapping - including the child he allegedly fathered - and three counts of rape. He didn't speak. Bond was set at $2 million on each of the four cases.

Cleveland prosecutor Brian Murphy accused Castro of using the women "in whatever self-gratifying, self-serving way he saw fit."

A public defender who represented him in court Thursday said he would be transferred from a city jail medical unit, and would probably be under suicide watch while at the county jail. She said he didn't have a chance to talk to his brothers.

The former school bus driver emerged as the lone suspect. Castro's two brothers were not charged because none of the women gave any indication that they were involved.

"Ariel kept everyone at a distance," Deputy Police Chief Ed Tomba said.

Police cite lack of evidence to explain why the brothers were not charged. But both men have hearings on unrelated outstanding misdemeanor warrants.

Investigators said the women endured lonely, dark lives inside a dingy home where they were raped and allowed outside only a handful of times in disguises while walking to a garage steps away. They were only allowed to do this twice, for only a total of about 10 minutes - in 10 years.

Tomba said the women gave police lengthy statements of how Castro beat and starved them, causing several miscarriages for one of the victims. Ropes and chains were found in the house. The women were kept in different rooms. They never received medical treatment.

One thing that remains a mystery, Tomba said, is how the women were kept in the house so long.

"As far as the circumstances inside the home and the control he may have had over those girls ... I think that's going to take us a long time to figure that out," Tomba said.

The women, now in their 20s and 30s, vanished separately between 2002 and 2004. At the time, they were 14, 16 and 20 years old.

At a news conference, authorities would not discuss the circumstances of their kidnapping and captivity.

City Councilman Brian Cummins earlier said: "We know that the victims have confirmed miscarriages, but with who, how many and what conditions we don't know."

"It sounds pretty gruesome," he added.

They never saw a chance to escape over the last 10 years until this week when Amanda Berry broke through a door and ran to freedom, alerting police who rescued the other two women while Castro was away from the house.

In newly released police audio tapes, a 911 dispatcher notifies officers on Monday that she's just spoken to a woman who "says her name is Amanda Berry and that she had been kidnapped 10 years ago."

An officer on the recorded call says, "This might be for real."

After police arrive at the house, women can be heard crying in the background. Then an officer tells the dispatcher: "We found `em. We found `em."

Tomba said of Berry, "Something must have clicked and she saw an opportunity and she took that opportunity."

He said the women could remember being outside only twice during their entire time in captivity. "We were told they left the house and went into the garage in disguise," he said.

Also in the house was Berry's 6-year-old daughter. A paternity test on Castro was being done to establish whether he fathered the child.

While prosecutors announced charges against Castro, federal agents searched a vacant house near where the women had been held. Officials would only say their search was an attempt to get evidence in the case against Castro, but they refused to say what they found or what led them there.

Castro was in custody and couldn't be reached for comment. A brother-in-law has said the family was shocked after hearing about the women at the home.

Few people in Cleveland, outside the families of the women, thought there was any chance they were still alive.

Two of the three women returned to their families Wednesday after they were released from a hospital. Gina DeJesus and Amanda Berry returned to decorated houses and crowds cheering for them. Family members hustled them inside, past hundreds of reporters and onlookers. Neither woman spoke.

"This is the best Mother's Day I could ever have," said Nancy Ruiz, Gina's mother. She said she hugged her daughter and didn't want to let go.

Ruiz said she spent time with all three women after they were rescued. "There's no word to describe the beauty of just seeing them," she said.

DeJesus' father pumped his fist after arriving home with his daughter, and urged people across the country to watch over the children in their neighborhoods - including other people's kids.

"Too many kids these days come up missing, and we always ask this question: How come I didn't see what happened to that kid? Why? Because we chose not to," he said.

The third captive, Michelle Knight, 32, was reported in good condition at Metro Health Medical Center, which a day earlier had reported that all three victims had been released. There was no immediate explanation from the hospital.

A fund has been established to benefit all three women. Proceeds will benefit qualified nonprofit organizations that will provide services for the three victims.

Donations will be accepted online and at Key Bank locations.

Those who wish to make in-kind donations should email ClevelandCourageFund@gmail.com.

To mail a donation, use this address:

Cleveland Courage Fund

c/o the Cleveland Foundation

1422 Euclid Ave., Suite 1300

Cleveland, Ohio 44115

The Associated Press does not usually identify people who may be victims of sexual assault, but the names of the women were widely circulated by their families, friends and law enforcement authorities for years during their disappearance.

Castro was accused of twice breaking the nose of his children's mother, knocking out a tooth, dislocating each shoulder and threatening to kill her and her daughters, according to a 2005 domestic-violence filing in Cuyahoga County Domestic Relations Court.

The filing for a protective order by Grimilda Figueroa also said that Castro frequently abducted her daughters and kept them from her. Figueroa died in April 2012 after a battle with cancer.

Figueroa's father, Ismail Figueroa, said Wednesday that Castro would regularly lock his daughter inside a second-floor apartment in the house where they lived when they were first together.

Later, when they moved a few blocks to the house Castro purchased -- the house from which, years later, the women would escape -- he kept a close eye on her and refused to let people come inside to visit her or even let her pick up their children from school, said Angel Villanueva, who is married to Grimilda Figueroa's sister.

Grimilda was "not allowed to go nowhere," said Villanueva. No matter where she wanted to go, "it had to be with him."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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