Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 17 April 2014

Suspect 'is father of captive girl'

Ariel Castro was ordered held on eight million US dollar bail (AP/Cuyahoga County)

Alleged kidnapper Ariel Castro is the father of a six-year-old girl rescued from his house with three women this week, an official says.

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine's office confirmed Castro's paternity in a news release. Mr DeWine says a sample of Castro's DNA was taken and forensic scientists worked through the night on the case.

The girl is the daughter of Amanda Berry, who authorities say was held for about a decade in Castro's house in Cleveland with Gina Dejesus and Michelle Knight. Castro is being held on eight million dollars (£5.2 million) bail charged with rape and kidnapping.

Police said Castro impregnated another captive at least five times and made her miscarry by starving her and punching her in the belly. The allegations were made in a police report that also said Amanda Berry was forced to give birth in a plastic children's pool.

Prosecutor Timothy McGinty said his office would decide whether to bring aggravated murder charges punishable by death in connection with the pregnancies that were terminated by force. "Capital punishment must be reserved for those crimes that are truly the worst examples of human conduct," he said. "The reality is we still have brutal criminals in our midst who have no respect for the rule of law or human life."

Castro, 52, a former school bus driver, is under suicide watch in jail, where he is charged with rape and kidnapping. Mr McGinty said Castro would be charged for every act of sexual violence, assault and other crimes committed against the women, suggesting the counts could number in the hundreds, if not thousands.

Ms Berry, now 27, told officers that she was forced to give birth in a plastic pool in the house in Cleveland so it would be easier to clean up. She said she, her baby, now six, and the two other rescued women had never been to a doctor during their captivity; Michelle Knight, now 32, said her five pregnancies ended after Castro starved her for at least two weeks and "repeatedly punched her in the stomach until she miscarried".

During his brief court appearance on Thursday, Castro tried to hide his face, tucking his chin inside his shirt collar. He appeared to close his eyes during the hearing and awkwardly signed documents while handcuffed. He did not speak or enter a plea. In court, prosecutor Brian Murphy said Castro used the women "in whatever self-gratifying, self-serving way he saw fit".

Castro was arrested on Monday, when Ms Berry broke out of his rundown house and called police while he was away. Police found the two other women inside. The women had vanished separately between 2002 and 2004, when they 14, 16 and 20.

Michelle Knight left hospital on Friday afternoon, MetroHealth Medical Centre spokeswoman Phyllis Marino said, but she declined to comment further on Ms Knight's condition or where she was going. Earlier on Friday, Ms Knight said in a statement she is in good spirits and grateful for the fund created to aid the victims.

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