MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:
Just months after Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight escaped from years of captivity in a house in Cleveland, their captor is dead. Ariel Castro was found hanging in his prison cell last night. His death has now been ruled a suicide. From member station WCPN, Nick Castele reports.
NICK CASTELE, BYLINE: I'm standing outside 2207 Seymour Avenue in Cleveland. This is the address where Ariel Castro held three women captive for about 10 years. The house is gone now. Last month, the county tore it down, and it demolished two other abandoned structures nearby. In its place is a stretch of land that's been partially filled in with beds of pink flowers to mark the spot until neighbors and officials can decide what more to do with the properties. The news of Ariel Castro's death has brought international attention back to this street in Cleveland, and neighbors are trying to figure out just what to make of this latest development in the story.
JOVITA MARTI: He tortured those girls for 10, 11 years, and he didn't even - was in jail for four months, you know? He didn't have the guts to stay, like, a year and suffer a little bit.
CASTELE: Jovita Marti was sitting on her porch with her mother this morning across the street. Ariel Castro pleaded guilty this summer to hundreds of charges, including rape and kidnapping. Around 9:20 last night, prison staff in central Ohio found him hanging in his cell from a bedsheet. About an hour later, he was pronounced dead at a Columbus hospital. The county coroner today ruled the death a suicide. Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction spokeswoman JoEllen Smith says Castro was alone in his cell, and that guards were instructed to check in on him frequently.
JOELLEN SMITH: Rounds are required to be conducted every 30 minutes at staggered intervals. The entire incident is under investigation.
CASTELE: This is the second hanging in a month in an Ohio prison, and the ACLU here is calling for an investigation of prison mental health services. The plea deal took the death penalty off the table in exchange for life in prison without parole, in attempt, lawyers said, to spare Castro's victims further agony and keep him behind bars. Back on Seymour Avenue, Eli Amos says he was disappointed that Castro died without serving that sentence.
ELI AMOS: I think they were doing whatever they could do to make sure he got sent away. The death penalty came regardless.
CASTELE: He says no matter how hard Castro's defense had tried to avoid death for their client, in the end, death and Castro found each other. For NPR News, I'm Nick Castele in Cleveland. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.