Ariel Castro, sentenced to life in prison for the kidnapping, rape and beatings of three Cleveland women he held captive in his house for a decade, was found hanged in his prison cell late Tuesday, a state corrections official said.
The former school bus driver, who pleaded guilty to 937 offenses in July, was under protective custody and isolated from other inmates at the Correctional Reception Center in Orient. Prison staff found him hanged at about 9:20 p.m. CDT on Tuesday (0220 GMT, Wednesday), officials said.
A review of the incident, which came a month after a death row prisoner was found hanged at another Ohio prison, was underway.
Castro was sentenced on Aug. 1 to life plus 1,000 years in prison without the possibility of parole for abducting the three women and keeping them imprisoned in the dungeon-like confines of his house, where they were starved, beaten and sexually assaulted for about a decade.
The house where the three were held, bound with chains and ropes for periods of time, has been torn down.
Police found a suicide note and confession written by Castro when they searched his home in May. His lawyer said on Wednesday that prison authorities repeatedly denied him a psychologist.
"We requested the opportunity for our retained independent psychologist to see and evaluate Mr. Castro in both the county jail and in the prison reception center, where he was being held. We were denied and thwarted in each of our attempts by the state and county," defense attorney Jaye Schlachet told Reuters.
After prison medical personnel tried to resuscitate him, Castro, 53, was transferred to a hospital and pronounced dead about 90 minutes later, officials said.
"If the state of Ohio is going to incarcerate an individual they should protect that individual from themselves and others," Schlachet said.
"This is not good for the system and not good for the families," the lawyer said.
Castro was taken into custody in May, just after Amanda Berry, 27, Gina DeJesus, 23, and Michelle Knight, 32, were freed with assistance from neighbors who heard Berry's cries for help.
Also rescued was Berry's 6-year-old daughter, fathered by Castro and born during her mother's captivity.
Castro pleaded guilty in July to kidnapping, rape, felonious assault and aggravated murder under a fetal homicide law for the forcible miscarriage of one of his three victims.
His plea deal with prosecutors spared Castro a possible death penalty for murder.
Castro had been incarcerated since Aug. 5 at the Correctional Reception Center, a prison processing facility outside Columbus, the state capital, about 150 miles (240 km) southeast of Cleveland.
He was to remain there while undergoing mental and physical evaluation before being transferred to a permanent lockup, prison officials said.
The Ohio prisons are at 130 percent capacity, a prison watchdog group says, and the Castro hanging closely follows two other high-profile deaths.
An Ohio death row inmate, Billy Slagle, 44, was found hanged in his prison cell at another Ohio prison on Aug. 4, three days before he was due to be executed for the 1987 murder of a babysitter. An investigation into Slagle's death has been completed and was due to be publicly released, Rehabilitation and Correction Department spokeswoman JoEllen Smith said.
James Oglesby, 32, who was serving a life sentence for aggravated murder and kidnapping, died Aug. 22 at a Toledo hospital after being beaten with baseball bats in the recreation yard at Toledo Correctional Institution. He became the third man killed in the past year in the overcrowded state system.
Ohio's prison system had one confirmed homicide in 2010, two in 2011 and three in 2012, according to Joanna Saul, executive director of the Correctional Institution Inspection Committee, a state legislative group that monitors prisons.
© 2014 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.