ORIENT, Ohio, (UPI) — Ariel Castro, sentenced to life plus 1,000 years for abducting and raping three Cleveland women over a decade, has died of an apparent suicide, officials said.
Castro, 53, was found hanged in his prison cell around 9:20 p.m. Tuesday, a spokeswoman for the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction said.
Medical staff at the Correctional Reception Center in Orient, Ohio, south of Columbus, tried to resuscitate him, then transported him to Wexner Medical Center at Ohio State University in Columbus, where he was pronounced dead at 10:52 p.m., spokeswoman JoEllen Smith said.
Castro was isolated from the general prison population for his own protection because of his high profile.
As an inmate in protective custody, he was required to be checked every 30 minutes, Smith said.
Castro had been moved to the Orient facility Aug. 5 from the Ohio’s Lorain Correctional Institution, 140 miles north, near Lake Erie.
The Department of Rehabilitation and Correction and the Ohio State Highway Patrol are beginning an investigation into Castro’s death, Smith said.
“A thorough review of this incident is under way and more information can be provided as it becomes available, pending the status of the investigation,” she said in a statement.
Castro, an unemployed bus driver, was sentenced Aug. 1 to life in prison without possibility of parole, plus 1,000 years, in a plea deal that let him avoid a possible death sentence.
He admitted to 937 criminal counts of rape, kidnapping and aggravated murder associated with the abduction, beating and restraining — sometimes in chains — of Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight.
The three women disappeared separately between 2002 and 2004, when they were 14, 16 and 20 years old.
The women were rescued from Castro’s house May 6 after neighbors spotted a frantic Berry and helped her break out.