Ariel Castro, the Ohio man who was arrested with his two brothers Monday and accused of keeping three women tied up in his basement for the last decade, is a "nice guy" who used to be a school bus driver, neighbors said.
"He was a nice guy, he would come around and say hi. He gave the kids rides up and down the street on his four-wheeler," Juan Perez, who has lived two doors down from Castro since he was about 5 years old, told Cleveland's NewsChannel5. "He would ask me if I wanted a ride. He seemed like he was a good guy to the kids that were here… I didn't think anything of it."
Police received a frantic 911 call Monday from Amanda Berry, who infamously disappeared in 2003 when she was just 16 years old, after neighbors responded to her screams and helped her slip out a small opening in a door of Castro's Cleveland-area home.
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"Help me. I'm Amanda Berry. I've been on the news for the last 10 years," she told a 911 dispatcher. "I've been kidnapped and I've been missing for 10 years and I'm here, I'm free now."
Berry, Gina DeJesus, Michelle Knight, and a 6-year-old police say Berry gave birth to while in captivity, were rescued from Castro's Cleveland home Monday
and taken to a local hospital for an evaluation. They were released to their families Tuesday.
The women were kidnapped between 2002 and 2004 in separate incidents, and police said Castro and his two brothers, who lived in a different home, kept them in a basement for as long as 10 years.
Castro, 52, and his brothers Pedro Castro, 54, and Onil Castro, 50, have been arrested for the alleged kidnapping.
A former school bus driver, Castro has had some trouble with the law before. He was arrested for domestic violence in 1993
, but a grand jury declined to indict him, according to USA Today.
Police said Castro was investigated in 2004 after he reportedly left a child on a school bus at the depot. He was questioned outside of his home at the time, and no charges were ever filed.
Neighbors said Castro would often attend neighborhood backyard parties and barbecues and was a fan of salsa music.
In an odd twist, Ariel "Anthony" Castro, the 31-year-old son of suspect Ariel Castro, wrote an article in a community newspaper in 2004 about how Gina DeJesus' disappearance had changed the neighborhood, according to USA Today.
"It's difficult to go any length of time without seeing Gina's picture on telephone poles, in windows, or on cars along the busy streets," wrote Castro, who studied journalism at Bowling Green State University.
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He even quoted DeJesus' mother, Nancy Ruiz, as saying people had started looking after each other's children.
"It's a shame that a tragedy had to happen for me to really know my neighbors," Castro quoted her as saying. "Bless their hearts, they've been great."
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