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Kidnap Suspect Is Father of Child Born in Captivity -Ohio Official

Friday, 10 May 2013 11:52 AM

 

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By Daniel Trotta and Kevin Gray

CLEVELAND, May 10 (Reuters) - DNA tests show Ariel Castro, a former school bus driver charged with kidnapping and raping three women during a decade of captivity in his Cleveland house, is the father of a 6-year-old girl born to one of the victims, the Ohio attorney general said on Friday.

The tests did not link Castro to any other state cases, Attorney General Mike DeWine said in a statement.

Castro, 52, was arrested shortly after Amanda Berry, her 6-year-old daughter, and two other women Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight, were found in his house in a run-down neighborhood of Cleveland on Monday.

DeWine's statement said that forensic scientists obtained a sample of Castro's DNA late Thursday afternoon and "worked throughout the night to confirm that Castro is the father of the six-year-old girl born in captivity to one of the kidnapping victims."

Berry's baby was born in a plastic inflatable children's swimming pool on Christmas Day, 2006, authorities have said.

The FBI is checking Castro's DNA sample against national cases, DeWine said. Local authorities have said Castro is not a suspect in other cases.

The Cuyahoga County prosecutor vowed on Thursday to seek murder charges that could carry the death penalty against Castro because police say there is evidence that Knight suffered forced miscarriages.

During their captivity, police said, the women endured beatings, rapes and at times confinement in ropes and chains.

Their imprisonment came to an end when neighbors, alerted by cries for help, broke through a locked door of Castro's house and freed Berry, who had disappeared the day before her 17th birthday in 2003 on her way home from work at a fast-food restaurant.

DeJesus, 23, vanished at age 14 after school, and Knight, 32, was 20 when she went missing in 2002.

All three told police this week that they were abducted by Castro when they accepted his offers of a ride in the same West Side Cleveland neighborhood where they were found.

Castro made his first court appearance on Thursday to face three counts of rape and four counts of kidnapping brought by the city attorney's office, and he was ordered to remain in custody on an $8 million bond.

County Prosecutor Timothy McGinty, who has jurisdiction over all felony cases for Cleveland, said he intends to expand the charges.

"I fully intend to seek charges for each and every act of sexual violence, rape, each day of kidnapping, every felonious assault, and each act of aggravated murder for terminating pregnancies that the offender perpetrated," he said.

Under Ohio law, the crime of aggravated murder includes the unlawful termination of a pregnancy and is a capital offense.

Knight suffered at least five miscarriages that she told police were intentionally caused by Castro starving her and beating her in the abdomen, according to an initial police report.

The victims told investigators they recalled leaving the confines of the house just twice during their ordeal, ushered on both occasions into a separate garage on the property while disguised in wigs and hats.

Castro's court-appointed lawyer, Kathleen DeMetz, said her client would be placed on a suicide watch in jail and was expected to be held in isolation.

In order to win release on bail, he would need $800,000 cash - 10 percent of the bond amount.

Berry told police that her escape on Monday had been her first chance to break free in the 10 years that she was held, seizing the opportunity during Castro's momentary absence.

Berry and DeJesus went home with family members on Wednesday, while Knight remained in hospital, but in good condition. (Additional reporting by Kim Palmer and Barbara Goldberg; Writing by Ellen Wulfhorst; Editing by Grant McCool)

© 2014 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

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