Prosecutor: Death penalty possible in kidnapping case


- Police report on case reveals captives were starved and raped for years.

- One victim reports her five pregnancies were aborted by being punched in stomach.

- Prosecutor says he may seek death penalty in the forced miscarriages.

- One baby delivered in a child’s plastic pool at the home.

- Test being performed on suspect to determine paternity of 6-year-old girl.

The three women held in captivity inside a U.S. home for about a decade were starved and raped, and one woman had five pregnancies aborted when the suspect punched her in the stomach, a police report says. A prosecutor said he may seek the death penalty for the forced miscarriages.

The report paints a grim picture of the women’s ordeal before their dramatic escape Monday when one of them, Amanda Berry, kicked out a door.

Berry told police that she delivered a baby in a child’s plastic pool, so it would be easier to clean up, while in captivity. Michelle Knight told them she suffered at least five miscarriages at the hands of suspect Ariel Castro and said she delivered Berry’s baby under threat of death if the baby died. The girl, now 6 years old, was found Monday.

The 52-year-old Castro, charged with rape and kidnapping, made his first court appearance Thursday. Castro was silent in court, looking at the ground, biting his collar and signing documents while handcuffed. He was ordered held on $8 million bond.

Investigators say the women — lured into Castro’s car at the ages of 14, 16 and 20 — endured lonely, dark lives inside a dingy home and were allowed outside only a handful of times in disguises while walking to a garage steps away. Police say the women were apparently bound by ropes and chains at times and were kept in different rooms.

Prosecutor Timothy McGinty said state law calls for the death penalty for the “most depraved criminals who commit aggravated murder during the course of a kidnapping.” He said aggravated murder charges could be filed related to pregnancies terminated by force.

McGinty said Castro would be charged for every single act of sexual violence, assault and other crimes, suggesting the charges could number in the hundreds, if not thousands.

The women and Castro have given lengthy statements to police, Deputy Police Chief Ed Tomba said. None of the women gave any indication that Castro’s two brothers, who had been in custody since Monday, were involved, Tomba said. The brothers appeared in court on unrelated charges and were released.

One thing that remains a mystery, Tomba said, is how the women were kept in the house so long.

The women, now in their 20s and 30s, vanished separately between 2002 and 2004. They never saw a chance to escape over the last 10 years until this week, when Berry broke through a door and ran to freedom, alerting police who rescued the other two women while Castro was away from the house.

In police audio tapes, an emergency dispatcher tells officers on Monday that she’d just spoken to a woman who “says her name is Amanda Berry and that she had been kidnapped 10 years ago.”

An officer on the recorded call says, “This might be for real.”

After police arrive at the house, women can be heard crying. An officer tells the dispatcher: “We found ‘em. We found ‘em.”

A paternity test on Castro was being done to establish whether he fathered Berry’s 6-year-old daughter.

Berry, 27, and Gina DeJesus, 22, were welcomed home Wednesday by jubilant crowds. Family members hustled them inside. Knight, 32, was reported in good condition at a local hospital.

The media does not usually identify people who may be victims of sexual assault, but the names of the women were widely circulated by their families, friends and law enforcement authorities for years during their disappearance.

Ariel Castro’s adult daughter, Arlene Castro, tearfully told NBC she was devastated upon learning of her father’s suspected role in the kidnappings. Arlene Castro was walking home from school with DeJesus in 2004 just before she disappeared.

“I would like to say I’m absolutely so, so sorry,” she said.