Ariel Castro found hanged in prison cell

Prison guards found convicted kidnapper and rapist Ariel Castro dead in his prison cell Tuesday night:

Medical officials tried to revive the 53-year-old former school bus driver after he was discovered around 9:20 p.m. CT Tuesday at the Correctional Reception Center in Orient, Ohio, authorities said.

Castro was transported to Ohio State University Medical Center in nearby Columbus but was pronounced dead at 10.52 p.m.

Authorities said a “thorough review of this incident is under way.” Franklin County Coroner Jan Gorniak said the cause of death was suicide by hanging, and said his injuries were consistent with using a bedsheet.

Castro had been housed in protective custody, which means he was in a cell by himself. Guards were making rounds every 30 minutes at staggered intervals, according to the Ohio Bureau of Prisons.

According to live news reports, Castro’s family learned of his death via the news, not from prison officials. Castro’s attorney claims that prison officials denied his client psychological help:

“We requested the opportunity for our retained independent psychologist to see and evaluate Mr. Castro in both the county jail and in the prison reception center, where he was being held. We were denied and thwarted in each of our attempts by the state and county,” defense attorney Jaye Schlachet told Reuters.

Prison authorities also failed to place Castro on suicide watch, although they did check his cell every thirty minutes. One of his attorneys is not convinced Castro killed himself:

“Alleged suicide, right?” defense lawyer Jaye Schlachet told the Daily News early Wednesday.

Schlachet said state prison officials hadn’t told him anything about his client’s grim fate and couldn’t say for certain whether Castro offed himself.

“I don’t deal with speculation,” he said.

Schlachet’s suspicion seems warranted given the circumstances, although Castro did write and save a suicide note prior to his arrest. Police discovered it as they searched Castro’s home.

Few people will take issue with Castro’s death. His actions against his victims were horrific, and it is understandable that many people will welcome his suicide. However, I agree with Castro’s attorneys. Castro was a human being, and despite his cruelty towards his victims, there was no reason not to help him. Had he turned away the help, that would be one thing. However, it appears that the prison authorities made no effort to give Castro any treatment.

It is possible that he had been threatened. It is also possible that he felt he had nothing left to live for. Once a person is in state custody, the state has a responsibility to protect that person from harm, whether from others or themselves. The state failed to do this, and no matter how little people care about Castro, that factor should worry them because it is possible that prison official do this with other inmates.

As for how this affects Castro’s victims, some have already decided that:

Kidnapper and rapist Ariel Castro’s apparent prison suicide may deprive his victims of a vital sense that justice has been done, a leading psychologist said Wednesday.

“Going forward now these girls are going to have to find a way of healing without a sense of justice,” said Dr. Linda Papadopoulos, a U.K.-based psychologist and author. “We want the sense of justice when we heal. Sometimes we have to heal without it, and sadly that is what they will have to do.”

She added: “He decided his fate, something they were never ever ever able to do for themselves. He had ultimate control. To some extent this was in a way his last slap to their faces —  ‘I’ve got this over you’.”

What Papadopoulos describes is revenge, not justice. Justice was served. Castro was caught, arrested, charged, and sentenced. He was sentenced essentially to death (life plus one thousand years), and now he is dead.

I understand the desire to return the favor to one’s abusers. I understand the desire to make them feel one’s pain, experience every nuance of it, every memory, every fear, every nightmare.

However, doing that is no different than doing what Castro did. I know that sounds horrible, but I think it is true. We have no idea what Castro suffered in his life. We have no idea how he reached a point where he could commit such cruelty against others. It may be that he suffered the same violence that he inflicted on his victims or worse. If true, the desire for revenge proves moot. He already experienced every hurt one could want to do to him.

The other reason not to seek revenge is that it will never be enough. There is no amount of suffering that Castro could have experienced that would likely have satisfied his victims. It could go on indefinitely, and that still might not be enough.

We need to move pass this kind of thinking. That is not easy to do. It would be a lie to say that I do not ever want those who hurt me to suffer as I did, even though I know that some of them, like my father and uncles, suffered worse than I did. That is a normal human response.

It is simply that I needed to learn to move past the desire for revenge in order to move past the abuse. I could not begin to heal if I held onto those feelings. That process takes time, and there is no reason for Castro’s victims to rush themselves through it as long as they are not they are hurting others as a result of those feelings. Let them deal with this on their own schedule.

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26 thoughts on “Ariel Castro found hanged in prison cell

  1. “Once a person is in state custody, the state has a responsibility to protect that person from harm…”

    Totally agree. And they totally have to be help responsible.

    TS, you are a kind soul and a good man. The example of a male survivor who’s come out the other side a better person for it.

  2. Sometimes people forfeit their status as human beings. I think this is one of those instances and had he not been caught he would have continued with his perversion and probably have killed one or all of his victims. Most times these rabid individuals are beyond help and should be put down. The money spend on his incarceration will be better used on people who are more likely to be rehabilitated and have the opportunity to reenter society. He likely would have done neither. I believe it is more inhumane to allow such individuals to live a lifetime incarcerated while stewing in their perversions. The humane thing would have been to quickly put him to death. He solved this dilemma on his own.

  3. While a part of me hates to admit it, I agree with you. I gave up eating meat years ago because I believe in not prolonging/causing pain…it would be extremely hypocritical of me to condone denying someone psychological or medical treatment (no matter how terrible their actions were). It should have been given, just as he should have served the entirety of his sentence.

    On a related note, I never wanted revenge against my stepfather for what he did. Each night, I only prayed for him to stop…not die or get harmed. Perhaps this is due to the fact I find it impossible to experience anger, no matter how much I may wish to.

    You’re lucky to have a full range of emotions, Soldier. I’m sure it makes you far healthier.

  4. Sometimes people forfeit their status as human beings.

    I disagree. A person is a person no matter what they do or who they are. I also think we need to be careful of that kind of thinking because abusers often think the same way.

    I think this is one of those instances and had he not been caught he would have continued with his perversion and probably have killed one or all of his victims. Most times these rabid individuals are beyond help and should be put down.

    We do not know if he was beyond help. From the look of it, we never tried to help him. He did not appear remorseful, and perhaps would have remained that way. Yet is not the point of prison to keep people from hurting others while not sacrificing that person’s life?

    Killing him would not have undone the damage he did, and it would not make anyone actually feel better. All the pain he inflicted would still be there. But this touches on a larger issue: at what point does the person become irredeemable? What exactly is the amount of acceptable harm one can commit before one forfeits one’s status as a human being and one’s life?

    I believe it is more inhumane to allow such individuals to live a lifetime incarcerated while stewing in their perversions.

    Why? It does no harm to anyone for him to think about his perversions. If thoughts are the issue, then a large portion of the human population needs to be put down since many people have perverted thoughts.

    As I wrote above, I understand the desire for revenge, but it simply does not serve much good. We can set aside the morality for a moment and focus on the practical. Castro behaved in a very particular way. Had we studied him, we might have been able to learn about the warning signs to look for that lead to a person committing similar acts. By failing to protect Castro from himself (assuming he committed suicide), we lose that chance. Information that we could have gathered that might have protected future victims is now lost.

  5. You’re lucky to have a full range of emotions, Soldier. I’m sure it makes you far healthier.

    I actually feel very little most of the time. I learned very early on that my emotions could be used against me, so I check them in check. I am so used to feeling next to nothing that it surprises me when I do experience a strong emotion.

  6. As I wrote above, I understand the desire for revenge, but it simply does not serve much good. (TS)

    My thinking is not based on revenge. It is based on practicality, limited resource and the potential to reoffend. The chance of learning from him was about as great as the chance he could get out and reoffend. Possible but highly unlikely. I don’t share your view in regards to certain individuals. Sometimes you need to cut the cancerous limb off because rehab isn’t quite enough.

  7. Clifford Olson was an example of why some need to be put out of their misery. He did it. He was found guilty of it. He admitted it. And he made it clear he would do it again. He spent a good portion of his life in prison. What a waste of resources that was spent on him rather than on individuals who have the chance of change.

  8. If you spoke to me a few years ago, we’d be exactly the same. My FwB has helped me a great deal in that regard, in addition to accepting the more physical aspects of myself. However, I still can’t feel anger and don’t like being touched unless I initiate it.

    “I am so used to feeling next to nothing that it surprises me when I do experience a strong emotion.”
    I understand completely. Emotions can be a difficult path to navigate.

  9. My thinking is not based on revenge. It is based on practicality, limited resource and the potential to reoffend.

    In this instance I think morality trumps practicality. We cannot argue that it is wrong to kill someone and then kill someone who kills someone. If killing is immoral, we need an actual, present reason to take a person’s life. If someone killed Castro as he abused his victims, that would be one thing. Killing him after the fact is terrible. Killing him because we do not want to be bothered with the cost of housing him is even worse.

  10. Sophia, I am not fan on being touched either. I have eased up as I got older, but I am still hesitant to let people I do not know well touch me. My godson helped me a lot with this as he is a toucher. He likes to show physical affection, especially towards the people he likes the most.

  11. In this instance I think morality trumps practicality. We cannot argue that it is wrong to kill someone and then kill someone who kills someone(TS)

    I don’t think its immoral to kill someone. There are many reasons why we kill. Just letting someone live isn’t necessarily a very moral thing to do anyways, especially if you keep them locked up for the entirety of their worldly existence. On top of that, consider the conditions with which many of them are faced with in prison. Not too damn pretty. Societies function well when groups agree on the rules. Break those rules(especially the moral ones) and you should be judged accordingly. Castro was judged accordingly and then he made his own assessment of his position and decided it wasn’t to his liking. Pretty simple actually. To think we should have done more for him is not logical, practical or reasonable and puts an undue onus on society for his failings.

  12. Soldier, no one in my entire family is, but many of my friends are. That probably wouldn’t be so bad, but two of the colleges around my job are kinda “hippie-ish”. Many of my customers hug/cheek kiss as a greeting, which I just can’t get used to. Some of the more obnoxious ones find it funny that I don’t like being touched, and attempt to make a game out of hugging me…I’ve learned to not react as much so as to not encourage them, but it hurts to not have my boundaries respected (yet again). My FwB tries to undo this damage when he sees me, but I feel like it’s really setting me back.

    I’m so very happy for you, that you also have someone helping to ease you into being touched again. Do you think it is easier to accept it from your godson because he’s younger? I find that young children like my nieces and nephews don’t really set me off…wondering if it’s the same for you?

  13. Sophia, it much harder for me to deal with kids than adults. I was very wary of letting my godson touch me when he was a child because I was afraid people would think I was a threat to him. I started to change when I realized it was affecting him. As he has gotten older, he has naturally become less clingy, although he still hugs people more than most 13-year-olds do. It is just his way, and I got used to it enough that it bothers me less with other people I know well touch me. However, I still find it odd when babies and toddlers want me to play with them.

  14. “I was very wary of letting my godson touch me when he was a child…”
    Yet another double standard that I loathe in our society: The idea that any man who spends time with younglings is automatically suspect. I hate it, and I hate the other side of this coin. Namely, that all women are safe to be around children. Both pieces of this harm us as a people…First, because everyone is “shocked” when females perpetuate child abuse/pedophilia. Second, the emotional pain it causes men to be looked at oddly when they’re out with their own kids, being Scoutmasters, or work at a daycare.

    It’s horrible, and I try to point out this double standard whenever I can. Not that it does any good 99% of the time…

    “However, I still find it odd when babies and toddlers want me to play with them.”
    Same here. I tend to think of young children like cats…they automatically go to the person least likely to try for their attention. Or maybe they just like it that we don’t make goo-goo noises at them like women do…

  15. Pingback: Castro Commits Suicide – Does This Mean Victims Receive No Justice? | Stories for the Heart

  16. It may be that someone deserves to die for the horrible things they’ve done… but who is morally entitled to kill that person? Who can be trusted with such authority?

    I’ve never found an answer that stood up to scrutiny. And that goes double for the government.

  17. It may be that someone deserves to die for the horrible things they’ve done… but who is morally entitled to kill that person? Who can be trusted with such authority?(Copyleft)

    In this case it was easy. Castro had the authority and I trust he made the right call for himself.

  18. And what if I told you Castro was raped weekly (technically speaking, because… “forced to penetrate”, well, not “real rape”) for long periods by his mother growing up, that he never knew his father, that he was abused physically and emotionally… and like a child, took this in without question, and nobody ever told him this was abuse, or wrong, or something to complain about even or really anything at all, so suck it up, buddy, be a man, get over it.

    And in time, he forgot all about it, and just went on doing his best, and well, failing a lot, but nobody really helped either, so he kept trying… but as he said, “he had been “driven by sex”, adding: “I’m not a violent predator… I’m not a monster, I’m a normal person. I’m just sick. I have an addiction, just like an alcoholic has an addiction.”

    The problem is one person’s normal is another person’s rape and trauma and abuse.. worthy of help and understanding and compassion. (And inclusion in the CDC surveys)

    In my male survivor group, I’ve sure heard a lot of men talk about abusive experiences and it’s effects are very predictable to me at this point. Because I heard the same things over and over. And of course, … oh sorry, I’m boring you.

    Here’s the gun. I took the safety off for you. Still want the pull the trigger and put a hole in his head?

    I’ll be leaving now. The cleaning up is for you.

  19. @Allan

    Here’s the thing. I don’t think Castro should have been executed for his crimes. I reserve that for a very specific kind of killer(Clifford Olson is an example). I do take issue with TS alluding to society(prison system) failing Castro. It seems Castro took his own life, I don’t think it is societies fault. The fault lies in his own hands, both before and after his sentencing. Considering the amount of criminals that are presently incarcerated I think its important where we put our resources in regards to rehabilitation. For someone who is going to serve a 1000 yr sentence I think they should be the last to get a piece of that pie. In regards to pulling the trigger and cleaning up I think for certain individuals that wouldn’t pose much of a problem.

  20. Titfortat, as a society we deemed the proper punishment for Castro was life in prison without parole. Once we put someone into state custody, the state has a moral, ethical, and legal responsibility to protect that person from others and from themselves. The state failed to do that. The state allowed, either intentionally or incidentally, Castro to take his own life. This is the same state that will imprison people who attempt commit suicide in order to prevent them from hurting themselves. It is hypocritical at the least for the state of Ohio to ignore Castro’s mental state and leave him unmonitored. It is criminal if they deliberately created a situation where he would kill himself or allowed someone to kill him and stage the scene to look like a suicide.

    I also agree with Allan that we do not know what caused Castro to behave as he did. While I can understand that others may not care, I think it is morally and ethically necessary to know what caused him to act this way, not only so as to prevent it from happening again, but to also address the issues Castro faced. It may be that he was literally doing all that he knew to do. That does not make his actions acceptable, yet it would explain his disconnect between the horror of his actions and his view of himself.

  21. TS

    In my mind there are limits to what we can or cannot do. In this regard lets just agree to disagree.

  22. Same here. I tend to think of young children like cats…they automatically go to the person least likely to try for their attention. Or maybe they just like it that we don’t make goo-goo noises at them like women do…

    I think it is because of my singing. Babies seem to like that, although when I hold them they try to stick their hands in my mouth.

  23. Off topic – TS did you once have a post about a woman who raped a boy by threatening him she would accuse him of rape if he didn’t submit? I half-remember one but I can’t find it. Thanks.

  24. I have a theory that’s developed from my own life: every time I’ve thought of myself as a victim and want revenge, I end up being like the person I wanted revenge on, or whom I hoped would suffer for their actions. I hated a man who stalked me many years ago, and a man who later raped me. Bitterly hated. Wished them dead. Then many years later in my life, someone called ME a stalker. Although I didn’t physically push sex on someone, I mentally did with letters and gifts, and wasn’t even able to see that I was doing it and how wrong it was! Why? Because I had never forgiven what was done me, so I became “wrong itself.” I stood humbled, realizing that I am just as capable of being a bully, a sinner. That, itself, has taught me to seek to pray for and forgive those who hurt me, which I do by asking God to help me by convicting me when I’ve sinned (so I can repent) and helping me forgive when sinned against. And I do so every single day, first thing in the morning and throughout the day! Thanks for your blog. : )

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