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Investigator: Castro planned another kidnapping?

11:34 AM, Jun 4, 2013   |    comments
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CLEVELAND -- A third floor bedroom in the home on Cleveland's Seymour  Avenue where Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight were held captive hints at other dark plans by suspected kidnapper Ariel Castro.

Police sources told The Investigator Tom Meyer that Castro  equipped that attic bedroom with chains and tie-downs.  

Meyer learned that the medical examiner's chief forensic photographer took photos of that bedroom at the prosecutor's request. That room was off-limits to the three women Castro already held captive and they told police they never went inside it.

But they would have been familiar with the chains, padlocks and tie-downs it contained, since they were also found in the lower floor rooms where Gina, Amanda and Michelle were kept for the better part of 10 years.

Cleveland Safety Director Martin Flask says there is no evidence that a fourth woman was ever held captive in the home.

So was Castro planning another abduction? His lawyers decline to comment on such allegations and said it was inappropriate for police to disseminate these kinds of details about the case.

The Castro home is still under police surveillance. Each day, dozens upon dozens of cars pass slowly by to gaze at the infamous house where the three young women, and Amanda's young daughter, Jocelyn, lived against their will.

In the meantime, a legislator wants the state of Ohio to compensate Amanda, Gina and Michelle for their years in captivity.

State Rep. John Barnes, District 12, told Meyer that he is introducing legislation Tuesday that will provide significant help to the women.

He's calling it a "Survivors of Abduction Act" and it would provide $25,000 a year to each of the three women for 10 years -- the length of time they were held captive -- as well as free education at any state university and free health care for life.  

Barnes, of Cleveland, says his colleagues in the statehouse have conveyed their support for the legislation.

"I think it's a humanitarian issue," Barnes said. "Can you imagine living in a box, probably 12 by 12, for over 10 years when you had your freedom before? "

"There are real challenges ahead for the women," he said. "As a community, we have an obligation to do everything we can."

The Survivors of Abduction Act goes beyond the compensation that comes from the Ohio Victims of Compensation Program. That program helps victims with one-time expenses resulting from a person's being injured through a violent criminal act. Funding for that program comes from criminal fines.

The new legislation, which would only apply to victims held captive for eight years or more, would be funded by tax dollars, Barnes said, noting that such cases are extremely rare.  

"But we have a $63 billion (state) budget.  I think $25,000 to help these young ladies is a small amount based on what they've experienced over the past 10 years."  

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