Warning: article contains abuse and other disturbing content, viewer discretion is advised
Ariel Castro was a simple man. He played in a band and was a bus driver for some time. Little did his neighbors know, he was holding three girls in his house for a decade.
The first girl Castro kidnapped was named Michelle Knight. Michelle already had an unfortunate life before the incident. Michelle was bullied mentally and physically throughout the school for being extremely short. At just the age of 17, she was impregnated so she dropped out of school. When her son became a toddler, he was taken into foster care after an injury suspected to be caused by her mother's abusive boyfriend. Michelle disappeared on August 23, 2002, and wouldn’t be found until 11 years later. The second girl kidnapped was Amanda Berry. Amanda was just about to turn 17 when going missing. She had told her sister that she got a ride home from her job. However, after 1 week of going missing, cops had determined that she had run away. At one point, Amanda’s mother even went on a show with a psychic to see if Amanda was still alive. The psychic claimed that she was dead and “in water”. She will be found 10 years later. The final girl was named Gina DeJesus. Gina went missing at the young age of 14. She was last seen around a payphone. Gina was walking home from middle school when she saw Castro. Castro’s daughter and she were friends at the time so she decided to ride with him to get home. She was then taken to his house and wouldn’t be seen for another 9 years.
Ariel Castro’s treatment of the girls was brutal. He would tie them up and leave them sometimes without days of food. They would shower once a week and were each left in different dark rooms chained to the wall. He would sexually abuse them so much that one of the girls, Michelle, ended up being impregnated 5 times. He would induce miscarriages through physical abuse. Ariel grew a liking to Amanda and impregnated her as well. She on the other hand was allowed to keep the baby. Michelle would be left to help Amanda deliver the baby in a small inflatable pool. This put a lot of pressure on her since he threatened to kill her if the baby wasn’t healthy. The baby started breathing at one point, but Michelle was able to save it. Castro would take his new daughter out sometimes and let her visit his mother. When not going out, Amanda would teach her how to read and write. Throughout their time there, the girls did not talk much. In fact, the girls barely keep in contact to this day.
One day, Castro accidentally left the inside door unlocked. Amanda didn’t try to break down the door though since Castro had previously tried to test them to see if they would try to escape. Instead, Amanda waited until seeing a neighbor pass by through the screen. Immediately she started screaming for help, and the neighbor noticed. The neighbor didn’t speak much English, however, he and another person passing by were able to kick a hole through the door. Amanda, carrying her 6-year-old daughter, had crawled out and went across the street to call 911. When 911 picked up, she said "Help me, I've been kidnapped, and I've been missing for ten years. And I'm here. I'm free now". Police soon after drove to Castro’s house and broke the door down. After peeking through the bedroom door and seeing the police, Michelle hugged one of the officers saying “ you saved me”. Gina then came out through another door. The girls were finally rescued on May 7, 2013, and were rushed to MetroHealth medical center. Amanda and Gina were released the next day and reunited with their families. Michelle was later released after 4 days. Unfortunately, her family would never meet up with her. After hearing about the rescue of these three girls, Ashley summers’ family had found hope. Ashley Summers went missing in 2007 and lived in the same area as these girls. Ashley is still currently missing as of 2022.
Ariel Castro was arrested for 4 counts of kidnapping. He would plead guilty to 937 of the 977 charges. Ariel would say that he was a good person and not a monster. He would also say most of the intercourse was consensual and that it's the girls’ fault for getting in a car with a stranger. He asked for forgiveness since their time in the house was “harmonious”. Michelle was the only one to confront Castro in court. She went on to say "You took eleven years of my life away. I spent eleven years in hell; now your hell is just beginning. I will overcome all that has happened, but you will face hell for eternity. I will live on, you will die a little every day as you think of the eleven years of atrocities that you inflicted on us ... I can forgive you, but I will never forget." Michelle later wrote a book about her experience.