Cleveland, OH — Kidnapping suspect Ariel Castro was charged on Friday with 329 counts, including rape, kidnapping, and aggravated murder.
The charges stem from the alleged kidnapping of three women who Castro allegedly held captive for almost 10 years. The Cuyahoga County grand jury handed down the indictment charges on Friday evening.
Along with 139 counts of rape and 177 charges of kidnapping, Ariel Castro was also indicted on seven counts of gross sexual imposition, three counts of felony assault, and one count of possession of criminal tools dating from the time the women were taken until February 2007.
Castro was also charged as a “sexually violent predator” who also committed rape and murder in the course of a kidnapping. The murder charge stems from one victim’s fourth pregnancy.
The former school bus driver, who was fired from the job last year, is currently being held in the Cuyahoga County jail on $8 million bail. A judge is expected to arraign him early next week on the new charges.
The case of the missing women broke open last month when Amanda Berry and her daughter broke free from Castro’s home on the west side of Cleveland. Berry then led police to Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight. Berry’s daughter was born in captivity.
Castro allegedly chained Knight to a pole in the basement and raped her the day after she was kidnapped. He also allegedly taped Berry’s legs and mouth and sexually assaulted her after she attempted to escape. He also allegedly chained and assaulted DeJesus.
The new indictments only covered the period from August 2002, when the first of the three women disappeared, until February 2007. Ohio’s aggravated murder law includes the death of a fetus “with prior calculation and design.” Because of this, Castro could face the death penalty if convicted.
Knight told investigators that Castro got her pregnant by rape at least five times during the course of her captivity. Each time, he allegedly starved her for two weeks, then punched her repeatedly in the stomach until she miscarried. It is unclear if more charges will be handed down against Ariel Castro.