Castro’s Son: I Won’t Visit Dad in Prison
By Ashley Fantz, CNN
(CNN) — In his first television interview, Ariel Castro’s son said Monday that his dad belongs in prison for the rest of his life and he doesn’t plan on ever visiting him.
Last week, Ariel Castro pleaded guilty in an Ohio court to 937 counts, including murder and kidnapping, in connection with imprisoning three women in his home for nearly a decade.
Castro is set to be sentenced Thursday. A plea deal he agreed to recommends that he get life in prison without parole. The deal would allow Castro to avoid the death penalty.
Anthony Castro, in an exclusive NBC “Today” show interview, said he thinks that sentence is “the best possible.”
“I think that if he really can’t control his impulses and he really doesn’t have any value for human life, the way this case has shown, then behind bars is where he belongs for the rest of his life,” the son said.
NBC’s Savannah Guthrie asked the son what he would have thought about his father receiving the death penalty.
“It would’ve been tough to accept just because death penalty cases are … you end up in court a lot … and so they come back a lot more often. I think this way is a lot better, because, you know, he’s put himself away, and he will be away for the rest of his life,” Castro responded.
Anthony Castro went on to say that his father “has been lying to his family for the past 10, 11 years, at every possible turn.”
“I have no trust in him,” the son said. “I can’t see myself going to visit him and giving him the opportunity to face me and lie to me again.”
The abductions and escape
Castro abducted Michelle Knight, Amanda Berry and Georgina “Gina” DeJesus separately in a two-year period starting in 2002, authorities say.
The women and Berry’s 6-year-old daughter were held in Castro’s 1,400-square-foot home. DNA tests have confirmed that Castro is the child’s father. They were freed in May after one of the women shouted for help while Castro was away.
Neighbor Charles Ramsey said he heard their cries as he was sitting down to eat.
“I see this girl going nuts trying to get out of a house,” he told CNN affiliate WEWS. “I go on the porch and she says, ‘Help me get out. I’ve been in here a long time.’ ”
Finally free, Berry pleaded for a phone.
“Help me, I am Amanda Berry,” she frantically told a 911 operator. “I’ve been kidnapped, and I’ve been missing for 10 years. And I’m here, I’m free now.”
Thankful for support
Lately the women have spoken out.
In early July, Berry, DeJesus and Knight released a YouTube video offering their thanks to all those who have helped them since they were freed.
“I want to thank everyone who has helped me and my family through this entire ordeal. Everyone who has been there to support us has been a blessing,” Berry said in the video. “I’m getting stronger each day.”
DeJesus talked to CNN affiliate WEWS on Sunday. She was excited that the last pieces of wood were being placed on a privacy fence around the DeJesus home.
“I really wanted it. It meant a lot to me,” the young woman said.
“The difference is privacy, of her being able to come out, walk out and do what she wants.” DeJesus’ grandmother Nancy Ruiz told the station. The fence was donated.
Also over the weekend, Berry surprised concert-goers in Cleveland when she took the stage with family and friends and waved to a cheering crowd. Rapper Nelly dedicated his hit song, “Just a Dream,” to her, HLN reported.
Happiness gives way to disappointment
The news of the women’s freedom initially made Anthony Castro happy, he said on NBC on Monday. He was like many in Ohio familiar with their longstanding disappearances.
But when his father’s name and photo made media reports, and he heard Berry say his father’s name, he was stunned and shaken.
“I was shocked because of the magnitude of such a crime,” Anthony Castro said. “I don’t think I can imagine anyone doing that, let alone to find out it was my own flesh and blood, my father. However, I did grow up in a house with a lot of fear and a lot of violence. And so, the fact that this was a violent case, no, it didn’t surprise me.”
Guthrie pointed out that Anthony Castro has spoken out about abuse that he and his mother suffered at the hands of his father.
Ariel Castro was “incredibly strict,” Anthony Castro said.
“He had a temper. He wasn’t a monster 24/7, but if you crossed him, there would be consequences. And those, more often than not, would be physical consequences.
“I remember crying myself to sleep when I was a kid because my legs were covered in welts from belts. Seeing my mom getting beat up in our own home, and no one should ever have to see their mom crumpled up in a corner on the floor the way I did so many times.”
In a way, his father’s imprisonment is a kind of justice for his mother, he said.
“I think that she will be there the first morning he wakes up in prison … and the sun shines down — that’s going to be her justice.”
Mixed emotions: horror, gratefulness
Had Anthony Castro been inside the house where the women were held? Had he seen any signs? Anthony Castro had been in the house, and he always entered through the back door. “That’s where my father would flag me in,” he said.
There were locks on the doors to the attic and basement, and the windows were nailed shut, Anthony Castro said. But that wasn’t unusual. There were places he just wasn’t allowed to go, he said. But he and his dad would talk in the kitchen for a short while, he said.
His family has endured a “nightmare” since May, Anthony Castro said, but he was quick to add, “nothing to compare to what the girls went through.”
“What’s horrifying is I have the same first and last name,” he said. “I look in the mirror and I see the resemblance and I think about what he did and how horrible it was, and I just can’t help sometimes just being overcome.”
Anthony Castro wants his friends and co-workers to know that’s he’s grateful that they’ve supported him.
“Because of all this, my father will never be able to hurt anyone again,” he said. “I have nothing to say to him.”