Cleveland Kidnapping Suspect Ariel Castro Hid a Dark Side, His Uncle Says

Good Morning America
Cleveland Kidnapping Suspect Ariel Castro Hid a Dark Side, His Uncle Says
.

View photo

Ariel Castro is a former school bus driver who loved playing with children, music and his bass guitar. He was also skilled at keeping a dark side hidden, said his uncle, who lived down the block from his nephew's home where three missing women bolted to freedom.

"Nobody in the neighborhood or in the family could imagine that something like this would happen," Julio Castro told ABC News.

He said he had no indication three women were living inside the modest two-story home Ariel Castro had owned since 1992.

Juan Alicea, a relative of Castro, said the suspect was intensely private and kept his social life outside of his home.

"He'd never have anyone come over," Alicea said. "He'd never had [a] social life unless they were outside on the porch or something, as far as I know."

FULL COVERAGE: Cleveland Missing Women Found

Georgina "Gina" DeJesus, 23, Amanda Berry, 27, and Michele Knight, 32, were found alive Monday night after they vanished a decade ago near their Cleveland homes. Berry escaped from the home about 6 p.m. with the help of Charles Ramsey, a neighbor. She then called police, who pulled DeJesus and Knight from the home.

RELATED: Listen to Amanda Berry's 911 Call

Authorities arrested Ariel Castro, 52, and his brothers, Pedro Castro, 54, and Onil Castro, 50, who police said they believed helped their brother.

Cleveland Deputy Police Chief Ed Tomba said at a news conference today charges would be filed within 36 hours of the three suspects' arrests. It was not immediately known what charges the men could face or what roles the brothers allegedly played in the crime.

Castro, who relatives and a neighbor said loved playing with children, had a checkered past as a bus driver with the Cleveland Metropolitan School District, according to his personnel record obtained by ABC News.

He was suspended for 60 days without pay in February 2004 after he inadvertently left a child on a bus, received a second 60 day suspension in June 2009 for making an illegal U-turn with kids on board the bus, and was suspended a third time for two months for using a bus to go grocery shopping, according to the records.

The final straw, according to records, came in October 2012 when Castro left a bus unlocked and unattended for several hours, resulting in his termination.

Castro A 'Fun Guy'

Juan Perez, 27, has lived two houses down from Castro on Seymour Avenue since he was a child and said his neighbor was a "fun guy."

"I mean, parents trusted him. He talked to the parents. He was just a regular guy on the street," he said. "He put on that great mask that everyone thought he was a good guy."

Perez said Castro was well known on the block as a "charismatic" guy who always wanted to play with the kids in the neighborhood, often times riding his bicycle, or a four-wheeler, and offering kids rides up and down the block.

Castro's Facebook page says he has five grandchildren, but it's not clear what his marital status was or how many children he has.

Julio Castro said the alleged crime had brought "shame" to his family, as he tried to understand how his nephew kept his dark side concealed from other family and neighbors.

"Apparently he was living two personalities," Castro said. The uncle said the personality that he saw was "The personality that was dealing with kids and driving the bus, the personality of being a musician and playing the bass."

Charles Ramsey, the neighbor who helped Berry break free, said he'd barbecued with Castro and never suspected something amiss.

"He just comes out to his backyard, plays with the dogs, tinkering with his cars and motorcycles and goes back in the house," Ramsey said Monday. "Sometimes you look and then look away because he's not doing nothing but average stuff. Ain't nothing exciting about him. Well, until today."

Castro Had Little Contact With Police

Ariel Castro was arrested in 1993 on a domestic violence charge that was later dropped, ABC News affiliate WEWS-TV in Cleveland reported. That same year, Castro pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct, according to WEWS.

Police said they combed through records and found they had been called to Castro's home in March 2000, years before any of the women were abducted, after a fight was reported on the street.

After Berry and Knight disappeared, Castro had one unrelated brush with police, in January 2004, when he "inadvertently" left a child on a school bus while working as a driver, Tomba said.

He was interviewed, Tomba said, and after authorities realized there was no criminal intent, the case was closed. Other than minor traffic infractions, it was the last contact police would have with Castro until his arrest on Monday.

ABC News' Emily Friedman contributed reporting.

View Comments (1527)

Recommended for You

  • Zika Virus Outbreak Prompts CDC to Activate Highest Emergency Ops Level

    The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Emergency Operations Center has been moved to Level 1, the agency's highest level, due to the risk of Zika virus transmission in the U.S., officials said today. The Level 1 activation is "reflecting the agency’s assessment of the need for an…

    Good Morning America13 mins ago
  • US Veteran Says He is 'ISIS Soldier,' Calls Bin Laden 'Beautiful Man,' Officials Say

    The FBI has arrested a former member of the Army on weapons charges after he allegedly expressed sympathy for ISIS, called Osama bin Laden "a beautiful man" and said the murder of government agents was "a hundred percent obligation," according to court documents filed in a Washington state federal…

    Good Morning America32 mins ago
  • Giant Rabbit From Scotland Looking for a Home

    The Scottish SPCA center in Glasgow has a 7-month-old continental giant rabbit up for adoption. The rabbit, Atlas, is already about the size of a Westie dog and is still expected to grow, according to a Feb. 8 press release from the Scottish SPCA. Atlas is not only the same size as a dog, but…

    Good Morning America
  • Chinese New Year Fireworks So Dangerous That Only a Few Get to Witness

    For much of the next two weeks, millions of Chinese will welcome in the Year of Monkey, which begins today, with a cavalcade of fireworks lighting up the night’s sky. In almost every corner of every city or village in Mainland China, families will light their own firecrackers and boxes of…

    Good Morning America
  • Duchess Kate Champions Mental Health in New PSA

    Duchess Kate is on a mission. The Duchess of Cambridge, 34, is speaking out in a new public service announcement (PSA) to raise awareness for Children’s Mental Health week for her mental health charity, Place2Be. The Duchess recorded a special video message to coincide with Children’s Mental…

    Good Morning America
  • 'Kung Fu Panda 3' Stays on Top at the Box Office

    "Kung Fu Panda 3" scored another box office win during Super Bowl weekend.The animated sequel earned an estimated $21 million in its second weekend of release.'Kung Fu Panda 3' Tops the Box Office'The Revenant' Tops Weekend Box OfficeThe Coen brothers' "Hail, Caesar!" opened in second place,…

    Good Morning America
  • WWE Wrestler Daniel Bryan to Retire

    Former WWE champion and professional wrestling star Daniel Bryan is retiring."Due to medical reasons, effective immediately, I am announcing my retirement. Tonight on Raw, I'll have a chance to elaborate. #gratitude," he tweeted on Monday.Read: Stone Cold Steve Austin: My Life After Pro…

    Good Morning America
  • 'Girls' Star Lena Dunham Taking Time Off for 'Chronic' Illness

    The acclaimed HBO show "Girls" is back for its final season next month, but its biggest star will not being making press appearances due to a "chronic condition."Lena Dunham took to Instagram today to write, "I just wanted to let you know that, while I am so excited for Girls to return on Feb 21, I…

    Good Morning America
  • Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship Rocked by Hurricane-Force Winds Heads Back to New Jersey

    A Royal Caribbean cruise ship that was rocked by hurricane-force winds overnight is sailing back to port in Bayonne, New Jersey. The ship left from Cape Liberty, New Jersey, on Saturday for a seven-night cruise to the Bahamas. The company posted a message on Twitter saying that all guests are…

    Good Morning America
  • Dad's Piano-Playing Lullaby Soothes Baby Boy to Sleep in Seconds

    Take a look at little Samuel who couldn’t fall asleep because he had an ear infection. The moment his crafty dad starts playing his own version of the classic “Brahms’ Lullaby” however, the soothing sounds work like magic, putting the tiny tot to sleep within seconds.

    Good Morning America
  • Super Bowl 50: Beyonce Takes Fans Behind the Scenes of Her Performance

    Although Coldplay headlined the Super Bowl 50 halftime performance, all eyes were on Beyonce, who shared the stage with the British band along with pop star Bruno Mars.The singer, who announced her Formation World Tour right after the big game ended, is letting fans in on how her performance came…

    Good Morning America
  • Countdown to New Hampshire With 5 Things to Watch in Tuesday's Primary

    Tuesday will be a critical moment on the road to the White House as residents of the Granite State cast their votes in the first-in-the-nation primary. With independents making up more than 40 percent of the electorate, the New Hampshire primary can often surprise, and that may be the case…

    Good Morning America
  • Super Bowl 50: Peyton Manning 'Very Much at Peace'

    Peyton Manning says he’s “very much at peace” as he contemplates retirement from the NFL just hours after winning his second Super Bowl title. Manning, 39, finished 13 for 23 for 141 yards in the Broncos’ 24-10 win over the Carolina Panthers in Sunday’s Super Bowl game at California’s Levi’s…

    Good Morning America
  • Panda Cub Bei Bei Climbs a Tree With the Help of His Mom

    Bei Bei is moving up in the world.The Smithsonian National Zoo’s baby panda experienced the outdoors for the first time last week and now the nearly six-month-old cub is scaling trees—-with the help of his mom Mei Xiang, of course. The Washington DC based Zoo posted a video of the feat online this…

    Good Morning America
  • 4 Ways to Increase Your Chances of Scoring Beyonce Tour Tickets

    Minutes after Beyonce announced her 2016 Formation World Tour during Super Bowl 50, fans flooded to her website looking for more information about the tour, and temporarily crashed the site. Fans have also been tweeting in anticipation and excitement for the ticket sales to go live. Securing…

    Good Morning America
  • Paris Jackson Reveals Struggle With Alcoholism, Pressures of Fame

    Paris Jackson, the only daughter of music legend Michael Jackson, is apparently struggling with alcoholism.In a now-deleted, profanity-laced rant on Instagram, the 17-year-old told her followers that she was being attacked online."I am expected to literally sit … all day replying to comments people…

    Good Morning America
  • Russians Arrest 7 in Alleged ISIS-Related Terror Plot

    Russian security services have arrested seven people accused of plotting terror attacks on behalf of the Islamic State in major Russian cities, the country’s FSB intelligence agency said today. The arrests were made in the city of Ekaterinburg, located in the Urals region on the edge of Siberia,…

    Good Morning America