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Americas

Ohio suspect fathered child born in captivity

© AFP

Video by Halla Mohieddeen

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2013-05-10

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said Friday that DNA tests confirmed Ariel Castro, the man charged with kidnapping and imprisoning three young women for nearly a decade in a house in Cleveland, fathered a six-year-old girl found with the victims.

In the latest development to surface in the case of three women who were kidnapped and held captive in Cleveland, Ohio for nearly a decade, the state’s attorney general said on Friday that DNA tests confirmed Ariel Castro, the man charged in the abductions, fathered a six-year-old girl believed to have been born in the house where he allegedly held the victims, including the child’s mother.

“Forensic scientists worked throughout the night to confirm that Castro is the father of the six-year-old girl born in captivity to one of the kidnapping victims,” Attorney General Mike DeWine said in a statement.

While the tests did not link Castro to any other state cases, DeWine added that the FBI was checking the DNA sample on the national level.

Castro, 52, was arrested shortly after the young girl was found with her mother, Amanda Berry, and two other kidnapping victims – Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight – when they were freed from a house owned by the suspect on Seymour Avenue in Cleveland’s disadvantaged West Side neighbourhood on Monday.

In the days that followed the three women’s rescue, the grisly details of their long captivity slowly began to emerge. Officials said that the three victims were at times bound in chains or rope and endured starvation, beatings, rape and, in the case of one victim, several forced miscarriages.

Kidnap victim's 911 call

The women told investigators they recalled leaving the confines of the house just twice during their ordeal, ushered on both occasions into a separate garage on the property while disguised in wigs and hats.

Berry’s daughter was born in an inflatable children’s swimming pool on Christmas Day, 2006, officials said.

The three women’s imprisonment came to an end when neighbours, alerted by frantic cries for help, broke through a locked door of Castro’s house and freed Berry, who had disappeared the day before her 17th birthday in 2003 on her way home from work at a fast-food restaurant.

DeJesus, 23, vanished at age 14 after school, and Knight, 32, was 20 when she went missing in 2002.

All three told police this week that they were abducted by Castro when they accepted his offers of a ride in the same neighbourhood where they were found.

Prosecution seeks aggravated murder charges

Castro, a former school bus driver, made his first court appearance on Thursday to face charges of three counts of rape and four counts of kidnapping brought by the city attorney’s office. The suspect stood with his head bowed at the arraignment, where he was ordered to remain in custody as his bail was set at $8 million.

Cuyahoga County prosecutor Timothy McGinty, who has jurisdiction over all felony cases for Cleveland, said he intends to seek aggravated murder charges against Castro, stemming from allegations Knight suffered several forced miscarriages.

“I fully intend to seek charges for each and every act of sexual violence, rape, each day of kidnapping, every felonious assault, and each act of aggravated murder for terminating pregnancies that the offender perpetrated,” McGinty said.

Under Ohio law, the crime of aggravated murder includes the unlawful termination of a pregnancy and is a capital offense.

Knight suffered at least five miscarriages that she told police were intentionally caused by Castro starving her and beating her in the abdomen, according to an initial police report.

Castro’s court-appointed lawyer, Kathleen DeMetz, said her client would be placed on a suicide watch in jail and was expected to be held in isolation.

In order to win release on bail, he would need $800,000 cash – 10 percent of the bond amount.

Berry told police that her escape on Monday had been her first chance to break free in the 10 years that she was held, seizing the opportunity during Castro’s momentary absence.

Berry and DeJesus went home with family members on Wednesday, while Knight remained in hospital, but in good condition.

(FRANCE 24 with wires)

Date created : 2013-05-10

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