Ariel Castro's family speaks out on abusive past

3:28 PM, May 10, 2013   |    comments
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Ariel Castro, the man accused of holding Amanda Berry, Michelle Knight and Gina DeJesus captive for a decade in his Cleveland home, also brutally beat and mentally abused the mother of his children, her relatives say.

Ariel Castro: Full coverage: http://www.wkyc.com/news/specials/missinggirls/

Ariel Castro's daughter, Angie Gregg, said she and her sisters were not abused by Castro, but he did abuse her mother, Grimilda Figueroa, who died of brain cancer in 2012.

"I've seen him basically stomp on her like she was a man," Gregg told CNN. She also told CNN of peculiar behavior she now sees in a new light:

--"He would take forever to come to the door," when she visited.

--Castro interfered with family travel plans because he never wanted to leave his house for more than a day.

--He'd frequently play loud music during her visits.

Gregg recalls once asking to see her childhood bedroom, and Castro told her "Oh, honey, there's so much junk up there. You don't want to go up there," she said. At the time, she thought it was just "him being a pack rat."

On a recent visit to Castro's rundown home, his friend Ricky Sanchez said he heard noises "like banging on a wall" and noticed four or five locks on the outside door. While he was there, a little girl came out from the kitchen and stared at him. But she didn't say anything.

"When I was about to leave, I tried to open the door," he said. "I couldn't even, because there were so many locks in there."

In interviews with The Associated Press on Thursday, Figueroa's relatives described Castro as a "monster" who abused his wife and locked his family inside their own home.

Figueroa's relatives said Castro savagely beat her, pushing her down a flight of stairs, breaking her nose and dislocating her shoulder, among other injuries. Her sister, Elida Caraballo, said Castro once shoved Figueroa into a cardboard box and closed the flaps over her head.

"He told her, 'You stay there until I tell you to get out,'" said Caraballo, who cried as she recounted her late sister's torment. "That's when I got scared and I ran downstairs to get my parents."

 

Castro, to frighten his wife, kept a mannequin wearing a dark wig propped up against a wall and sometimes drove around the neighborhood with it, relatives said.

"He threatened me lots of times with it," said Angel Caraballo, Castro's nephew, who used to play with his cousins at the house where the kidnapped women were found. "He would say, 'Act up again, you'll be in that back room with the mannequin.'"

One day, Figueroa was returning home with her arms full of groceries when Castro jumped into the doorway with the mannequin, frightening her so badly that she fell backward and smashed her head on the pavement, Elida Caraballo said.

Figueroa's relatives said Castro often forced her to remain inside her home and forbade her from using the telephone. After warning her not to leave, he would test her to see if she obeyed, Caraballo said.

Some relatives of Castro have said they were shocked by the allegations against him. An uncle, Julio Castro, said it's been difficult news to absorb.

"Of course we have taken it hard," he said. "We only knew one Ariel, my sweet nephew. He was a sweet, happy person, a musician. We didn't have the slightest idea of the second person in him."

Juan Perez, who lives two doors down from Castro, said Castro was always happy and respectful. "He gained trust with the kids and with the parents. You can only do that if you're nice," Perez said.

Relatives say that in 1996, Figueroa finally left Castro after he hit her for the last time. After one particularly bad beating, Figueroa ran outside with one of her sons, crying out to neighbors just as the captive women did.

"The neighbors went across the street to get her," Elida Caraballo said. "And that was the last time she ever stepped in the house."

 

Associated Press and CNN content contributed to this report.

Gannett

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