As police sift through the ramshackle Cleveland home where three women who'd been missing for almost a decade were recovered yesterday afternoon, neighbors of the three brothers arrested for the kidnappings are coming forward with terrifying tales of brutality that went overlooked by police for years.
In a USA Today article published this evening, people who lived near Ariel Castro, Onil Castro, and Pedro Castro at their home on Cleveland's Seymour Avenue claim that they witnessed a cavalcade of creepy incidents over the years, including women on leashes crawling around naked in the Castros' backyard and women desperately banging on windows:
- "Elsie Cintron, who lives three houses away, said her daughter once saw a naked woman crawling on her hands and knees in the backyard several years ago and called police."
- "Israel Lugo said he, his family and neighbors called police three times between 2011 and 2012 after seeing disturbing things at the home of Ariel Castro. Lugo lives two houses down from Castro and grew suspicious after neighbors reported seeing naked women on leashes crawling on all fours behind Castro's house."
- "Lugo said about two years ago his sister told him she heard a woman pounding on a window at Castro's home as if she needed help. When his sister looked up, she saw a woman and a baby standing in a window half covered with a wooden plank."
- "A third call came from neighborhood women who lived in an apartment building. Those women told Lugo they called police because they saw three young girls crawling on all fours naked with dog leashes around their necks. Three men were controlling them in the backyard."
Sources tell Cleveland's WKYC-TV that what was happening to the captive women inside the house was even worse than what neighbors saw. Citing "several police sources," the station reported that the three kidnapees were repeatedly raped over the years, resulting in up to five pregnancies. A a 6-year-old girl discovered in the Castro home is believed to be one of the kidnapped women's daughter, but at this time it's unclear what happened with the other pregnancies.
Exacerbating the fact that the three women were apparently tortured for years and years is that neighbors say they frequently called police to the Castro home only to have the cops ignore them. One woman said that officers "didn't take it seriously" when she called 911 to complain about a woman crawling naked in the Castro backyard. Another person said a call about women being led around by leashes yielded no action whatsoever: "[T]hey waited two hours but police never responded to the calls."
In response to these allegations, the Cleveland Police Department is saying it never received calls about naked women at the Castro house: