by Doug Criss, CNN
(CNN) — Ariel Castro’s ex-daughter-in-law never felt comfortable around the man who police say kept three young women trapped in a Cleveland home for a decade.
Monica Stephens — who was once married to Castro’s son, Anthony — said she never developed a close relationship with Castro, primarily because of the stories her ex-husband and ex-mother-in-law had shared with her about him.
“I never had the desire to get to know him personally or very closely,” Stephens told CNN’s Piers Morgan Tuesday night. “Both my ex-husband and his mother had shared with me stories of how he had beaten them, locked them in the house, just treated them like hostages, so I never had a desire to get to know him. He didn’t have that like, you know, father-in-law appeal.”
Stephens said she had been told Castro’s alleged abuse of Anthony Castro began when he was a child and that he even beat his wife, Grimilda Figueroa, after she had brain surgery.
“He still continued to beat her. He hit her in the head. Either he kicked her or hit her with a lead pipe,” she said. “I don’t even think I really fully could grasp just how horrible some of the stories were.”
In addition to the beatings, Castro “played a lot of mind games” with the family members, Stephens said she was told.
During her marriage, Stephens made a visit with Anthony Castro to Ariel Castro’s home. Stories she heard about how he would “obsessively” keep things locked up in the house made her nervous during her short visit.
“I don’t think we were there more than 20 minutes. It wasn’t a normal occurrence. I think that was the one and only time I had ever been there. Ariel Castro always gave me the heebie-jeebies, but I thought that was just because of my personal bias,” she said. “Like I said, I just attribute to the things I had heard about him.”
Stephens said she didn’t hear any unusual noises when she was in the house.
The three women once held captive in that house — Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight — have said in a statement from their attorney they want privacy so they can reconnect with their families. They also won’t be giving any media interviews until after the criminal case against Castro is complete.
Berry and DeJesus returned to joyous homecomings with their families last week. The whereabouts of Knight are unknown. She has not reunited with her family, but a source close to the investigation told CNN she “is in a safe place and very comfortable.”
Castro, a 52-year-old bus driver and musician, faces charges of rape and kidnapping in connection with the prolonged captivity of the women.
According to initial police reports, the women told investigators that they were chained in the basement of the home, but later moved upstairs to rooms on the second floor. They were allowed out of the home only twice, and then just briefly, according to the document.