UK & World News

  • 8 May 2013, 18:56

Ohio Cops: Trio Held With Ropes And Chains

Three women abducted about a decade ago and held captive in a house were restrained with ropes and chains, a police chief has said.

The physical condition ofMichelle Knight, Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus, rescued in Cleveland, Ohio on Monday,was "very good considering the circumstances",Michael McGrathclaimed.

He said: "We have confirmation they were bound and there were chains and ropes in the hall."

Mr McGrathalso said they had been allowed out of the house "very rarely", adding: "They were released out in the backyard once in a while I believe."

Police have been searching the property and said no human remains have been found at the house.Officers had reportedly been looking for "possible aborted babies".

Sources told WKYC that as many as five pregnancies occurred in the house. They were also told their captors would beat the pregnant girls and that the babies did not survive.

Ariel Castro, 52, who owned and lived at the property, and his two brothers Pedro, 54, and Onil, 50, are now in custody after being arrested on suspicion of holding the women captive.

Police are expected to charge the men and they could appear in court as early as today.

Mr McGrath says they "are talking" but he would not say if they have confessed.

He also told NBC he was "absolutely" sure police did everything they could to find the women over the years and he disputed claims by neighbours that officers had been called to the house before for suspicious circumstances.

It comes as Ariel Castro had apparently comforted the mother of MissDeJesus at a candlelight vigil about a year ago.

He was believed to be friends with the girl's father and reportedly helped in the search for Miss DeJesus.

He handed out fliers after she vanished and performed music at a fundraiser held in her honour, it is claimed.

Miss Knight, now 32, Miss Berry, 27, and Miss DeJesus, 23, were abducted separately in the Ohio city in 2002, 2003 and 2004 when they were 20, 16 and 14 respectively.

The three women were rescued after a frantic 911 call by Miss Berry, who escaped, led police to Castro's run-down property, where authorities say the trio had been held captive since their teens or early 20s.

Police are investigating the handling of the call, saying: "While the call-taker complied with policies and procedures which enabled a very fast response by police, we have noted some concerns which will be the focus of our review."

Officers said the concerns included "the call-taker's failure to remain on the line with Miss Berry until police arrived on scene", adding:"Please be assured that this matter will be investigated, and if necessary, appropriate corrective action taken."

It has also emerged that as police were digging for Miss Berry in an empty lot in the city in July 2012, Pedro, sitting on some steps, said: "That's a waste of money."

Antony Quiros said he was at the vigil for Miss DeJesus about a year ago and saw Ariel Castro comforting her mother.

Ariel Castro was friends with the missing girl's father and helped search for her after she disappeared, said Khalid Samad, a friend of the family.

"When we went out to look for Gina, he helped pass out fliers," said Mr Samad, a community activist.