US & Canada

Cleveland abduction: Castro brothers

Pedro Castro (left), Ariel Castro (centre) and Onil Castro in a combination of police photos, 7 May 2013
Image caption Ariel Castro (centre) has been charged, but his brothers, Pedro (left) and Onil (right), have not

A former school bus driver, Ariel Castro, has been charged over the abduction of three women for about a decade in Cleveland, Ohio.

Police suspect Mr Castro of holding Gina DeJesus, Amanda Berry and Michelle Knight captive in a house in Seymour Avenue, Cleveland. He has been charged with kidnapping and rape.

His brothers, Pedro and Onil, were arrested along with Ariel, but police have not charged them, saying they have no reason to believe they knew about their brother's alleged crimes.

All three were taken into custody on Monday after Amanda Berry escaped from the house and alerted the police.

Ariel Castro, 52

Born in Puerto Rico, Ariel Castro is the owner and main occupant of the house on Seymour Avenue, where the women were held.

He has owned the house, which is reportedly subject to foreclosure for non-payment of tax, since 1992.

In November last year, he was fired from his job as a school bus driver after a number of incidents, including leaving a child on the bus in 2004 and making an illegal turn with children on board in 2009.

Mr Castro, who divorced more than a decade ago, is known to have at least one son and one daughter.

His son, Ariel Anthony Castro, wrote an article about Ms DeJesus' disappearance in 2004, even interviewing her mother, whilst studying to be journalist.

On his father's arrest, the younger Mr Castro said it was "beyond comprehension".

Ariel Castro said on his Facebook page that he was the grandfather of five children, posting a congratulatory note in April to his daughter, Arlene, on the birth of her child.

Both father and daughter are believed to have had close ties to the DeJesus family, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports.

Arlene told "America's Most Wanted" TV show in 2004 that she was the last person to see her friend and classmate Gina DeJesus.

Meanwhile, Mr Castro was spotted attending a vigil last year to mark DeJesus' disappearance.

Court records show that Mr Castro was accused in 2005 of attacking his former wife, Grimilda Figueroa.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer reported that Figueroa, who died last year, suffered multiple injuries, including broken ribs, a knocked-out tooth, and a blood clot in her brain.

Her lawyer said Mr Castro abducted his daughters several times, despite the divorce decree making no provision for his visitation.

The Associated Press also report Mr Castro was arrested in 1993 on a domestic violence charge but the case was dropped.

Police say they visited Castro's house twice in the past - once in 2000 when Mr Castro reported a fight in the street and again in 2004, after he left a child unattended on a school bus - but had never entered the residence.

Pedro Castro, 54

The oldest of the three brothers, Pedro Castro, also lived on the west side of Cleveland.

Despite being a high-performing student, he dropped out of school in his junior year (aged 16-17), close friend Nelson Roman told the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

Pedro Castro later quit his job operating a punch press at a factory due to his heavy drinking and in recent years was receiving social security benefits, Mr Roman adds.

He spoke to reporters about Amanda Berry's disappearance in July last year when investigators dug up an empty lot in search of her body following a tip off, two streets away from Seymour Avenue.

"That's a waste of money," Pedro Castro told a local affiliate of Fox News.

Onil Castro, 50

The youngest of the three brothers, Onil made a living working as a handyman, Nelson Roman told the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

He was injured during his work as a labourer and for the past five years has been receiving compensation.

Mr Roman describes Onil as "much quieter than his brother Pedro", but also a heavy drinker.

None of the brothers have been married apart from Ariel, Mr Roman adds.