Ariel Castro was discovered dead in his jail cell, on Tuesday, according to a rather vocal corrections officer. The man was imprisoned after committing the most abhorrent of crimes, shocking the world with his callous disregard for the dignities and freedoms of his innocent, Cleveland victims. But was this a cowardly act to escape justice?
House of Horrors
Ariel Castro was an ex-bus driver and wannabe musician, who tricked his victims into entering his property. Michelle Knight was the first girl lured into Castro’s awful house of horrors, in 2003, under the pretences that she would be awarded a puppy. The other girls were abducted in quick succession, thereafter, including Amanda Berry (2003) who was invited to play with Castro’s daughter, whilst Gina DeJesus (2004) was taken hostage after offering assistance in transporting a stereo speaker into his home.
According to F.B.I. officials, Castro went to alarming levels to keep his deplorable activities a secret, organizing the household in such a way as to prevent the outside world from looking in. Windows were boarded shut and the rear entrance to the building had been fitted with an alarm system, warning Ariel Castro of any potential intruders, in a bid to sustain his sickening pursuits.
Over a stretch of 11 years, the young women were systematically abused on a physical, sexual and emotional scale. One of the Cuyahoga Country prosecutors, a Mr. Timothy McGinty, had filed a revealing report into the conditions the women were forced to endure; confined to a series of dungeon-like holding rooms, the imprisoned girls were chained up, fed a single meal a day and were only provided with two cold showers each week.
Ariel Castro’s lifeless corpse was found hanging in his prison cell, during the latter part of Tuesday. The prison’s medical professionals attempted resuscitation, prior to his admission to one of the local hospitals; however, Castro’s demise was pronounced 90 minutes after.
The Cleveland kidnapper had not faced incarceration for very long, before deciding to end his life. He was taken to the Correctional Reception Center in Columbus, Ohio, ready to be processed on Aug. 5. Here, Castro was to face a battery of physical and psychological evaluations, prior to his transportation to a more stable detainment center.
According to Timothy McGinty, authorities had discovered a suicide note back in May, after a thorough search of Castro’s residence had been conducted, following his arrest. The note was immediately dismissed by the prosecutor, passing it off as a mere attempt to blame his victims and seek self-pity.
Ariel Castro’s residence had recently been demolished, a scene which Michelle Knight personally oversaw as she dispended a series of yellow, helium balloons to amassing crowds. In a poignant display, these balloons were later released across the region to commemorate those absent children who had not yet been found.
Always out for personal gain, Ariel Castro had managed to strike a deal after admitting his guilt. As part of a bargain plea, in an attempt to avoid the death sentence, he accepted a life-long prison sentence with no future opportunity for a parole hearing. What’s more, his home’s immediate destruction was a part of said deal, to which he accepted.
The Charges & Castro’s Defense
Ultimately, Castro was charged with an incredible number of violations, totaling 937; some of the criminal acts include aggravated murder, whereby Castro forced a miscarriage, kidnapping and rape. Castro was, consequently, sentenced to life imprisonment and narrowly avoided the death penalty after capitulating to the plea bargain.
Castro showed little remorse, during or after his heinous criminal wrongdoing. In court, the man claimed his was not a monster, but merely a man in dire need of help. Comparing his psychological condition to that of an alcoholic, it appeared that Ariel Castro was desperately searching for some form of sympathetic outlet:
“I have an addiction. Just like an alcoholic has an addiction.”
Regardless, an alcoholic is eventually tasked with facing the inevitable consequences of their actions and so must a serial sexual offender. Passing off such cruel and despicable acts as mere “addiction,” in an attempt to downplay all culpability, disrespects his victims and demonstrates a sincere lack of remorse; after all, to show remorse one must first accept responsibility for their actions.
The sad truth of it all is that Ariel Castro knew what he was doing was immoral, yet he persistently abused those young girls and went to great pains to keep it hidden from the prying eyes of the world. Why else would a man create a labyrinthine household, filled with alarms, barricades, locks and chains, if they were unaware that what they were doing was entirely wrong?
Worse, still, is the fact that Ariel Castro will not face the same degree of suffering and heartache that Michelle, Amanda and Gina had to experience. Castro was to face a lifelong prison sentence for his crimes, which was to serve as his punishment. Suicide seems like a convenient escape route. On the surface, it would appear the man that caged up three young women for a decade was unable to tolerate mere months behind bars, or even a fraction of a taste of his own medicine.
During Castro’s sentencing, Knight made a bold and brave statement, excoriating her subjugator:
“I spent 11 years in hell… Your hell is just beginning.”
Did Ariel Castro commit suicide out of shame, or did he kill himself to escape justice? Was it an act of contrition or an act of cowardliness? Maybe we’ll never know.
By: James Fenner (Op-Ed)
Chicago Tribune News Link