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Consultants: Cleveland kidnapper’s death a suicide

December 3, 2013

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The Cleveland man convicted of imprisoning three women for a decade committed suicide by hanging himself in his prison cell, two corrections consultants concluded following a review of his death released Tuesday. The review rejected earlier suggestions that he may have died accidentally while seeking a sexual thrill.

Ariel Castro’s Sept. 3 death was likely not the result of autoerotic asphyxiation, an act in which individuals seek a thrill by choking themselves into unconsciousness, according to the report by the nationally regarded consultants. A review by the state prisons agency earlier this fall suggested that possibility.

Castro, 53, was found kneeling in his cell with his pants down and hanging from a sheet attached to a window hinge, according to an earlier prisons report. He had just begun serving a sentence of life plus 1,000 years. He pleaded guilty in August to imprisoning three women in his Cleveland home for a decade while repeatedly raping and assaulting them. He fathered a girl with one of the victims.

The women were rescued May 6 when one of them broke out part of a door and called for help.

The report said all available evidence pointed to suicide, including a shrine-like arrangement of family pictures and a Bible in Castro’s cell, an increasing tone of frustration in his prison journal and the reality of spending the rest of his life in prison while subject to constant harassment.

Subsequent reviews by the Ohio State Highway Patrol and the Franklin County coroner reached the same conclusion, the report said.

The consultants said it was likely Castro was harassed by guards, based on interviews with inmates who said they had heard such harassment.

None of the multiple health assessments that Castro received indicated anything that would have required suicide-prevention measures, the consultants said.

Two prison guards were placed on paid administrative leave during the state’s investigation into Castro’s death. The Department of Rehabilitation and Correction alleged the two falsified logs documenting the number of times guards checked on Castro before he died.

The consultants’ report criticized the falsification but said it didn’t contribute to Castro’s death since he was seen alive minutes before he hanged himself in a check that met prison standards.

Some Ohio prison, who had not seen Castro, suggested of his appearance when he died that his pants slipped because of his 10-pound (4.5-kilogram) weight loss since entering prison, the report said. But one nurse interviewed by the consultants said Castro was completely naked, while a supervisor said it was not uncommon for Castro to be nude in his cell, according to the report.

Castro was also naked on occasion in Cuyahoga County Jail, where he was housed before pleading guilty and being sentenced, according to jail logs.

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Andrew Welsh-Huggins can be reached on Twitter at https://twitter.com/awhcolumbus

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