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Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Son of Cleveland Kidnapping Suspect Wrote About Missing Girl in 2004

The son of Ariel Castro, the Cleveland man suspected of abducting three women and keeping them locked and hidden in his home for years, wrote about one of the missing women while a journalism student working for a local community newspaper in June 2004.

Under the byline, Ariel Castro, the younger Mr. Castro, who now goes by the name Anthony Castro, interviewed the mother of Gina DeJesus, just months after her daughter, then 14, vanished while on her way home from middle school.

The article, posted June 2004 in the Cleveland Plain Press. a monthly newspaper, began:

Since April 2, 2004, on the last day that 14-year-old Gina DeJesus was last seen on her way home from Wilbur Wright Middle School, neighbors have been taken by an overwhelming need for caution. Parents are more strictly enforcing curfews, encouraging their children to walk in groups, or driving them to and from school when they had previously walked alone.

“You can tell the difference,” DeJesus’ mother, Nancy Ruiz said. “People are watching out for each other’s kids. It’s a shame that a tragedy had to happen for me to really know my neighbors. Bless their hearts, they’ve been great.”

On Cleveland’s west side, it is difficult to go any length of time without seeing Gina’s picture on telephone poles, in windows or on cars along the busy streets.

As my colleague, Christine Hauser reports, Ariel Castro, a 52-year-old former school bus driver, along with his two of his brothers were arrested after the dramatic discovery Monday night that the three women had been abducted and held captive for years.

They escaped after a neighbor broke down part of a door when he heard one of the women screaming and asking for help. In her 9-1-1 call to police, she said: “I’m Amanda Berry, I’ve been on the news for the last 10 years.”

Ms. Berry was 16 years old when she disappeared after her shift at a Burger King restaurant in 2003. Also found in the house were Ms. DeJesus and Michelle Knight, who was 20 when she was last seen in 2002.

Sara Shookman, a reporter for WKYC Television in Cleveland, broke the news that the suspect’s son, now 31, wrote about the missing person case for the monthly newspaper in 2004.

She interviewed the younger Mr. Castro last night. When they spoke, she said, he replied: “This is beyond comprehension … I’m truly stunned right now.”

In an interview Wednesday, Chuck Hoven, managing editor for the Cleveland Plain Press, said that the younger Mr. Castro was a journalism student at Bowling Green when he reported on the missing case of Ms. DeJesus. He said that he wrote the article for a class assignment and did not report regularly for the monthly publication.

Mr. Hoven said that the disappearance of Ms. Berry, followed a year later by Ms. DeJesus in the same area, transfixed the neighborhood for years. He said both families worked hard not to let police, the media and people in the neighborhood forget about the girls.

“You can even see posters around today in different stores for both girls,” he said.

Mr. Hoven recalled that Amanda Berry’s mother, until her death, would go out every Friday to the site, near the Burger King, where her daughter was last seen, still wearing her uniform.

He said that he had been unaware of the disappearance of Ms. Knight.

The house in which they were found is about three and a half miles away from where they were all last seen, he said.