10 May 2013

Ohio man charged with rape and kidnap

5:23 am on 10 May 2013

Police in the American state of Ohio have charged a man with the kidnapping and rape of three women held captive for a decade at a house in Cleveland.

Ariel Castro, 52, owned the house from which Amanda Berry, 27, Gina DeJesus, 23, and Michelle Knight, 32, were rescued after a neighbour heard their screams for help on Monday.

His brothers Pedro, 54, and Onil, 50, were arrested, but police have said they will not be charged.

Police said earlier that the women had been bound with ropes and chains in the house on Seymour Avenue. They said the women could only remember being outside twice during their time in captivity - and were then only allowed into the garage while in disguise.

Their discovery has gripped Cleveland, where they were widely believed to be dead, the BBC reports.

At a news conference on Wednesday afternoon, authorities said Ariel Castro would be charged with four counts of kidnapping, covering the three victims and Amanda Berry's six-year-old daughter, Jocelyn, who was born in captivity.

Mr Castro was also charged with three counts of rape - one against each woman.

Police told a news briefing that more than 200 pieces of evidence had been taken from the home. They said interviews with the women had yielded enough information to charge Ariel Castro, and that further charges could be added.

However, prosecutor Victor Perez said there was no evidence that his brothers, Pedro and Onil Castro, "had any involvement in the commission of the crimes committed".

Mr Perez said the women were not held in one room, "but they did know each other and they did know each other was there".

Michelle Knight remains in hospital, while Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus are with their families.

In a news conference outside the house, members of Ms DeJesus's family appealed to neighbours to help find a fourth missing girl, Ashley Summers, who has not been seen since 2007 when she was 14 years old.

Earlier, officials said no human remains were found at the Seymour Avenue property.