The morning after convicted kidnapper and rapist Ariel Castro hanged himself with a bed sheet in his prison cell, the cousin of victim Gina DeJesus has strong words about the man who stole nearly a decade of his victims' lives. [embedgallery id=195773]
"The fact is may God have mercy on his soul, and literally, now that he chose to take his own life," Sheila Figaro told Metro over the phone from Cleveland on Wednesday morning.
Castro, 53, was sentenced to life in prison plus 1,000 years, with no chance of parole, on Aug. 1 for imprisoning, raping and beating three young women in his Cleveland home for more than a decade. That plea deal was in exchange for sparing him the death penalty. In prison, he was isolated from other inmates in protective custody at the Correctional Reception Center in Orient, Ohio. He was reportedly checked on by guards every 30 minutes, but was not on suicide watch.
Figaro said Castro's victims — Gina DeJesus, 23, Michelle Knight, 32, and Amanda Berry, 27 — have remained in touch since their rescue from captivity in May. Berry has a 6-year-old daughter fathered by Castro.
When asked how Gina DeJesus reacted to the news of Castro's suicide, Figaro said, "Gina is doing very well. She is on the right path to getting healthy.
"Honestly, we have been keeping her away from everything as much as we can," she added. "So the biggest concern today is for Amanda with her child."
Medical personnel at the prison reportedly tried to resuscitate Castro, but he was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital about 90 minutes after being found hanging in his cell Tuesday night. Castro's lawyer said he had been denied access to a psychologist several times.
"We requested the opportunity for our retained independent psychologist to see and evaluate Mr. Castro in both the county jail and in the prison reception center, where he was being held," defense attorney Jaye Schlachet told Reuters. "We were denied and thwarted in each of our attempts by the state and county."
A letter, possibly a suicide note, written by Castro in 2004 had been found when authorities searched his home back in May. In the letter, Castro admitted to abducting the girls and contemplated killing himself.
"I am a sexual predator. I need help,” Castro wrote. "They are here against their will because they made a mistake of getting in a car with a total stranger."