The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

State and Nation

May 10, 2013

Ohio man's ex-relatives say he is a 'monster'

(Continued)

Figueroa's relatives said Castro often forced her to remain inside her home and forbade her from using the telephone. After warning her not to leave, he would test her to see if she obeyed, Caraballo said.

Some relatives of Castro have said they were shocked by the allegations against him. An uncle, Julio Castro, said it's been difficult news to absorb.

"Of course we have taken it hard," he said. "We only knew one Ariel, my sweet nephew. He was a sweet, happy person, a musician. We didn't have the slightest idea of the second person in him."

Juan Perez, who lives two doors down from Castro, said Castro was always happy and respectful. "He gained trust with the kids and with the parents. You can only do that if you're nice," Perez said.

On a recent visit to Castro's rundown home, his friend Ricky Sanchez said he heard noises "like banging on a wall" and noticed four or five locks on the outside door. While he was there, a little girl came out from the kitchen and stared at him. But she didn't say anything.

"When I was about to leave, I tried to open the door," he said. "I couldn't even, because there were so many locks in there."

Relatives say that in 1996, Figueroa finally left Castro after he hit her for the last time. After one particularly bad beating, Figueroa ran outside with one of her sons, crying out to neighbors just as the captive women did.

"The neighbors went across the street to get her," Elida Caraballo said. "And that was the last time she ever stepped in the house."

___

Associated Press writers Thomas J. Sheeran, Mike Householder, Andrew Welsh-Huggins and John Coyne in Cleveland; Brendan Farrington in Florida; and Dan Sewell in Cincinnati contributed to this report.

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