— COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The Cleveland man serving a life sentence for kidnapping three women and raping them in his home for a decade hanged himself in his prison cell, officials said Wednesday in another startling twist in the case that horrified and transfixed the city.
Ariel Castro, 53, was found hanging around 9:20 p.m. Tuesday at the state prison in Orient, said JoEllen Smith, a spokeswoman for the corrections system. Prison medical staff performed CPR before Castro was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Castro had been in protective custody because of the notoriety of his case, meaning he was checked every 30 minutes, but was not on suicide watch, which entails constant supervision, Smith said.
An autopsy showed the death was suicide by hanging, said Dr. Jan Gorniak, Franklin County coroner. Gorniak would not comment on the circumstances in which Castro was found.
In Castro's old Cleveland neighborhood, Jessica Burchett, 19, said his death had short-circuited the life sentence called for in his plea bargain.
"It does give a little bit of closure to the families and people that got affected by what he did, but at the same time he deserved to be in there for his life because of what he did to those girls," she said.
Elsie Cintron, a neighbor who lived up the street from Castro, said the suicide left her with mixed feelings.
"He took the coward's way out," Cintron said. "We're sad to hear that he's dead, but at the same time, we're happy he's gone, and now we know he can't ask for an appeal or try for one if he's acting like he's crazy."
No one answered the door Wednesday morning at the home of Castro's mother and brother.