Ariel Castro of Cleveland appeared in court for the first time Thursday to be arraigned on charges of raping and kidnapping three women he held captive for a decade. Bail was set at $8 million.
Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy McGinty said his office will seek charges against Castro "for each and every act of sexual violence, each day of kidnapping, all his attempted murders and each act of aggravated murder." The attempted and aggravated murders refer to instances in which Castro allegedly acted to terminate several of the women's pregnancies, McGinty told CNN.
Authorities "will evaluate whether we will seek charges eligible for the death penalty," the prosecutor added.
Police have talked extensively with Castro, who was a longtime school bus driver for the Cleveland Metropolitan School District, as well as victims Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight. Berry called 911 Monday after a neighbor heard her screaming and helped her and her 6-year-old daughter escape the boarded-up, two-story house on Seymour Avenue.
In all, Castro faces four counts of kidnapping and three of rape. Under state law, any restraint on a person's liberty can be considered kidnapping, which would allow prosecutors to file the charge for Berry's child.
The three women were rescued from a house authorities visited nine years ago, police said, and in the very neighborhood where their families live. In 2004, officers went to Castro's residence after child welfare officials told them Castro had apparently left a child unattended on his school bus, but no one answered the door. Police were unsuccessful in contacting him and later determined that there was no criminal intent. Castro was fired in October 2012 after a fourth incident that showed a lack of judgment.
"He previously had been suspended for 60 days for leaving a child on a bus; 60 days for making an illegal U-turn in rush hour traffic with a bus load of students, and last school year for using the bus to do his grocery shopping," stated the letter recommending his dismissal.
School district records released Tuesday night confirm that Castro was a school bus driver until last fall. His termination came about because he left his bus unattended outside of a school, without notifying his dispatcher or depot, after he learned his preschool routes were canceled. It was reportedly the fourth incident in which he showed a lack of judgment.
Castro worked for the same school district where at least one of his victims attended school. STN contacted CMSD but had no response at press time. DeJesus disappeared while walking home from Wilbur Wright Middle School, about half a mile from where Berry went missing the prior year.
In a new development, Castro's daughter, Arlene, was reportedly friends with DeJesus and walked home from school with her the very day she was abducted. On Thursday, Arlene, now 22, told "Good Morning America" she is extremely sorry about everything that happened to the three women and "devastated" about by her father's alleged actions.
"I had no idea," said Arlene, who now lives in Indiana, after being asked whether she knew anything about her father's situation.
She said the last time she spoke to him was in April. She added that she and her father have never really been close and they only had brief conversations in recent years.