Ariel Castro found dead in his prison cell

By Ben Johnson

Editor’s note. This appeared earlier today at

Ariel Castro

Ariel Castro

ORIENT, OH, September 4, 2013– Ariel Castro, the man who held three young women as sex slaves in a Cleveland home and beat them when they were pregnant until his unborn babies died, committed suicide Tuesday evening.

Coroner Dr. Jan Gorniak ruled on Wednesday that Castro hanged himself with a bedsheet inside his cell in the Correctional Reception Center in Orient, Ohio.

The Ohio Department of Corrections reports that a guard found Castro’s body around 9:20 p.m.

Immediately, ODC spokeswoman JoEllen Smith said “prison medical staff began performing life saving measures” before transporting him to The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.

“He was pronounced dead at 10:52 p.m.,” Smith said.

Officials immediately suspected suicide, as Castro had been segregated from the main prison population due to his profile.

Castro was serving a life sentence for kidnapping, imprisoning, raping, and torturing three women inside a Cleveland-area home for a decade or more.

The 53-year-old, who worked as a bus driver for the Cleveland Metropolitan School District, said a porn addiction led to his behavior.

He kidnapped Michelle Knight in August 2002, when she was 21.

He kidnapped Amanda Berry on April 21, 2003 – one day before her 17th birthday.

Gina DeJesus was only 14 in 2004, when Castro kidnapped her as she walked home from middle school.

Castro kept the three as sex prisoners, chaining them to a wall, keeping them malnourished, and beating them in the abdomen when they became pregnant from his non-stop abuse.

His treatment caused them to miscarry the children he fathered. Knight said she lost five children during her captivity.

Berry gave birth to one child who survived, their six-year-old daughter, Jocelyn.

The three women were rescued in May, after breaking through the door of their urban prison and calling 911.

Police arrested Ariel Castro on May 6 and began excavating the area for the bodies of babies he had killed in the womb.

Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy McGinty said he was prepared to charge Castro with “each act of aggravated murder he committed by terminating pregnancies.” Without striking a plea bargain, Castro could have become the first American on death row for killing an unborn child.

At the time Daily Beast editor Michelle Goldberg said the miscarriages “aren’t murder,” and if he were convicted of murder, it would be “an injustice–not to him, but to the rest of us.”

At his hearing in July, Castro faced 977 criminal charges, including aggravated murder. After a plea deal, he entered a guilty plea to 937 charges.

Cuyahoga County Judge Michael Russo sentenced him to life plus 1,000 years on July 26.

“You’ll never leave prison alive,” Russo told him.