(CLEVELAND) — Ariel Castro, the man accused of kidnapping three women and keeping them imprisoned in his home for a decade, stalked the neighborhood where his daughters lived and preyed on the girls’ friends, his daughter says.
Two of his alleged victims, Gina DeJesus and Amanda Berry, went to school with Castro’s two daughters and the four girls all knew each other, his daughter Emily told a private investigator in a recorded jailhouse interview obtained by ABC News.
“It couldn’t be coincidence,” Emily Castro told private eye Chris Giannini of her father’s decision to allegedly target two girls his daughters knew.
Emily Castro is serving a 25-year prison sentence for stabbing her own infant daughter in 2011.
At the time of her 2003 abduction, Berry lived just a few houses down the block from the home in which Castro’s daughters lived with their mother and stepfather. And Emily’s sister Arlene was the last person to see DeJesus before she disappeared.
Berry, now 26, and Emily, now 25, attended school together. “I went to Wilbur Wright [Middle School] with her,” Emily Castro told Giannini.
She said she was bothered that her father allegedly “used” her and her sister to look for victims on their street where they lived and played.
“He would come to his own kids’ neighborhood, not his own. I’m not saying he should have done it all. I’m saying he didn’t consider anything about us being his kids. He didn’t consider that he’s not only doing [kidnapping children] but he’s hurting us,” Emily Castro said.
She said she had seen DeJesus, a close friend of her younger sister, “a couple times” and spoke to her on the phone on the night before she was abducted.
Arlene Castro was the last person to see DeJesus on the day in 2004 that she vanished. The two wanted to go home together after school, and DeJesus lent her friend 50 cents for a pay phone call to ask her mother for permission, which was denied. DeJesus would normally have used that money for the bus, but instead she walked. It was on that walk she was allegedly abducted by Castro.
“I didn’t want to believe they were connected,” Emily Castro said upon learning that both girls she knew growing up had been living in captivity in a home owned by her father.
She said her father was routinely abusive of her mother Grimilda Figueroa, even beating her once while her mother was recovering from brain surgery. During the incident Emily Castro said she jumped on her father’s back, stabbing him with a pencil in an effort to get him to stop.
Ariel Castro was arrested following that incident, but the charges were later dropped.
Despite the violence Castro alleged aimed at her mother, Emily Castro said her father never abused her or her siblings. She said Ariel Castro doted on his daughters and was overprotective. He insisted the girls cover up in public, wearing shorts under their skirts, T-shirts over their bathing suits and never change in front of him.
Castro, she said, even insisted his daughters shower “with underwear on” when he was in the house.
Emily said she had no knowledge of her father’s alleged crimes and would have called the police herself had she known anything.
“I didn’t know, I didn’t have any knowledge at all. It is unbelievable,” she said.
Along with Berry and DeJesus, Castro allegedly kidnapped a third woman, Michelle Knight, in 2003. The three women escaped last week when a neighbor heard Berry screaming and helped kick in the home’s front door.
Castro has been charged with kidnapping and rape. Additional charges are expected, including counts that could carry the death penalty. He has not entered a plea.
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