Ariel Castro, 52, the man accused of kidnapping and raping three girls he held hostage for more than a decade has made his first appearance in court. Two brothers of Ariel Castro, initially detained by police, have been released without charge. Police now believe that Castro acted alone keeping his terrible actions a secret from everyone.
Ariel Castro, 52, has been charged with kidnap and rape. Bail was set at $2m (£1.3m) for each criminal charge that Mr Castro faces, a total of $8m. He did not enter a plea.
Details continue to emerge of the drama that unfolded Monday, when Amanda Berry managed to flee the house in Seymour Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio; where she and two other girls had been kept prisoners for more than a decade.
Footage of the emergency call made by Amanda, and the first responders reaction when they discovered the call was genuine and not a hoax, is heartwarming but how come the suspect able to hold the women prisoners for such a long time? Had he been a wild man living miles from civilization it would be easily explained away, but in the heart of a city, where the authorities had searched for the girls, it beggars belief.
It is now known that the captives were held in chains and secured, and the girls have revealed that they knew of each other's existence but were kept in separate rooms. This real-life drama in many ways resembles the plot of a film, with Kiss The Girls, starring Morgan Freeman, springing to mind. Seymour Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio was not a film-set though. It was the place where one man's cruel intentions played out. The BBC reports:
In a news conference late on Wednesday, authorities said Mr Castro would be charged with four counts of kidnapping. The charges covered the three initial abduction victims and Jocelyn. Mr Castro was also charged with three counts of rape, one against each woman.
Jocelyn is the six-year-old daughter of Amanda Berry.
A source told the BBC that one of the women was forced to help Ms Berry deliver her daughter, and was threatened with death if the child did not survive.
Ariel Castro is cooperating with police and has waived his right to silence. The kidnap victims have also spoken to investigators. The authorities have said that Castro may face more charges in due course.
Ms Knight remains in hospital but Gina and Amanda have reunited with their loved ones. For them the healing process begins.
Each fresh revelation is shocking. The girls were only allowed outdoors twice during their long incarceration. What happened if, and when, they got sick? Surely they did in more than a decade? It now sounds as if their kidnapping included solitary confinement most of the time which could destroy your mental well-being. According to Yahoo news the three girls, now women of course, "suffered prolonged sexual and psychological abuse and had miscarriages, according to a city official briefed on the case".
The most shocking aspect though, one that refuses to go away, is the record of the FBI and police in handling the case of the missing girls. The family of another girl missing in the same area of Cleveland are now hopeful that clues to the whereabouts of their loved one, Ashley Summers, will be revealed.
FBI agents were already working on the assumption that Ashley's disappearance was linked to that of Miss Berry and Miss DeJesus as long ago as 2009. A year earlier police and the FBI suspected Ashley was possibly being held against her will and classed her as an "endangered juvenile" rather than a runaway.
With news that police had interviewed Castro previously, received reports about the man and searched in the area for the body of Amanda Berry you are left wondering what went wrong?
Surely the one most significant change that must come out of this case is that police and law enforcement officers undergo re-training. This fiasco confirms that currently their system does not work.
Three American women missing for 10 years found alive in Cleveland
Search for missing Ohio girl, Ashley Summers