All it took was a few swipes from an excavator to demolish the house in Ohio where three women were held captive for a decade.
Cheers and applause filled the streets in the Cleveland neighborhood were the house of Ariel Castro, the man who held three women against their will for over a decade while beating, raping, and even fathering a child by one of the women, once stood. The demolition started Wednesday morning lasting only 20 minutes. It was part of a plea deal that kept Castro-62 from receiving the death penalty. Castro was sentenced to life in prison plus 1,000 years last week.
Victim Michelle Knight showed up early Wednesday morning before the demolition started. After making a brief statement, she released balloons into the air.
With rosary beads hanging from her neck, Knight said, “Dear Lord, give the missing people strength and power to know that they are loved. We hear their cry, they are never forgotten in my heart. They are caterpillars waiting to turn into a butterfly. They are never forgotten, they are loved.”
“The balloons represent the millions of children that were never found and the ones who passed away that were never heard,” said Knight.
A relative of one of the victims represented the three women and took the controls of the excavator for the first smash at the top of the house with the wrecking crane. Later, as the demolition reached the basement where the women were held, church bells rang out.
“Tearing the house down was important for the neighborhood, to show that monster that he is behind bars and that he’s never going to get out,” said Katie Mae Brown-62, a former resident of the neighborhood.
According to Cuyahoga County prosecutor Tim McGinty, the two houses to the left of Castro’s are also being torn down. That site will eventually be developed into a park or whatever the residents there agree on.
As Castro signed over the deed to the house, he cried while recalling his “many happy memories” there with the women. Prosecutors used the teary-eyed scene to show Castro’s “distorted and twisted” personality calling him “one evil guy”.
Monday Castro’s son, Anthony Castro along with other relatives showed up to the house to collect personal items from the residence including photographs, guitars and bicycles. They said that the demolition of the house was part of a healing process for them.
“It’s sad and hard but it’s necessary for us to move on,” said Anthony Castro.
At the sentencing of Castro, prosecutors showed photo’s of what the rooms looked like where the three women were kept inside the home.
In the room where Amanda Berry lived with her young, who was father by Castro, there were stuffed animals along the bed, a drawing on a shelf that read, “Happy Birthday”, and numerous drawings with crayon taped to the walls. The windows had boards on them, door knobs were replaced with locks and small holes in the door were meant for circulation.
The photo of the room shared by Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight, showed a portable toilet, a clock radio and multiple chains.
The house had been fenced off and guarded by police 24 hours a day due to threats of arson after the women were found.