The man accused of abducting and imprisoning Gina DeJesus and two other women for the last decade has his first appearance this morning in Cleveland Municipal Court. Ariel Castro is accused of three counts of rape and four of kidnapping.
And Cleveland police say more charges may be coming against 52-year-old former school bus driver.
The family of DeJesus – who was 14 when she disappeared -- had welcomed her home just a few hours before the charges were announced. They spoke to hundreds of reporters and onlookers and celebrated the moment. Aunt Sandra Ruiz said judgment of DeJesus’ alleged captor must be left to others.
“Because we are all God’s children, our family forgives him. But we won’t forget. When he goes up, he’ll have to respond to the high and mighty up there. I can’t judge. I’m not perfect, you’re not perfect.”
Police found DeJesus and Michelle Knight in Castro’s Seymour Avenue house Monday evening after another of the women, Amanda Berry, broke free. Berry escaped with her 6-year-old daughter, and the fourth kidnapping charge is related to the child. Castro’s two brothers were arrested with him Monday night, but both have been cleared.
- Here’s the timeline of the case of three Cleveland women who vanished from their near west-side neighborhood a decade ago and were found Monday in a home some two miles away.
- Aug. 23, 2002: Michelle Knight disappears from her cousin’s house near W. 106th Street and Lorain Avenue. She’s legally an adult, and police speculate that she left because she’d lost temporary custody of her son. Her mother never believed that.
- April 21, 2003: 16-year-old Amanda Berry never returns from work at a Burger King on Lorain and West 110th Street. Her mother, Louwana Miller, begins a search for her daughter that ends only when the 44-year-old Louwana dies in 2006.
- January 2004: Ariel Castro is a school bus driver. Police go to his home at 2207 Seymour Ave. after Child and Family Services tells them he had left a child unattended on a bus. Police decide there was no criminal intent.
- April 2, 2004: Georgina "Gina" DeJesus, 14, disappears while walking home from Wilbur Wright Middle School where she attended special education classes. She’s last seen at the corner of Lorain Avenue and 105th Street.
- 2005: Police and FBI agents continue the investigation, offering a $20,000 reward for details that lead to discovery of DeJesus or Berry.
- April 2009: The FBI broadens its investigation to include another girl, 14-year-old Ashley Summers, who had disappeared in 2007. She later contacts her family.
- Police also test the DNA on a body found in Wisconsin.
- January 2013: Convicted killer and inmate Robert Wolford is sentenced to 4 ½ years on of obstruction of justice and other charges. He gave police a false tip that said Berry’s body was buried on a vacant lot in Cleveland. Police spent 18 hours searching the lot.
- May 6, 2013: Berry breaks through a screen door of the house on Seymour with the help of neighbors and escapes with a 6-year-old girl she identifies on the 9-1-1 call as her daughter. Police respond and find Knight and DeJesus inside.
- Three brothers, Ariel Castro, Pedro Castro and Onil Castro, are arrested. Police prepare charges.
- May 7, 2013: The women, Berry, now 27; DeJesus, now 23, and Michelle Knight, 32, are released from MetroHealth Medical Center.
- May 8, 2013: Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus return home. Knight is readmitted to Metrohealth in good condition.
- Ariel Castro is charged with four counts of kidnapping and three of rape. Brothers Pedro and Onil are cleared of all charges and release.
- May 9, 2013: Ariel Castro is to be arraigned in Cleveland Municipal Court, where the case is expected to be turned over the Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court.