It seems Ariel Castro couldn't stand even a little of the captivity he
kept his victims in for so long, one of his Berks County relatives said
Castro, 53, who spent much of his childhood in Reading, hanged himself Tuesday in his Ohio prison cell, where he was serving a sentence of life plus 1,000 years for kidnapping and torturing three women over a decade in Cleveland.
"He couldn't handle even a month of what he did to these girls for 10 years, and he wasn't being beaten or starved; and he got the medical attention he needed," said his cousin, one of his numerous relatives in Berks.
She spoke with the Reading Eagle asking that only the family's last name -- Rodriguez -- be used due to concerns for their safety and privacy.
Asked if justice had been served on Castro, Rodriguez said she didn't think so.
"Those girls will never be at peace, even with his death," she said. "They will carry this with them in their hearts, minds and souls the rest of their lives. Hopefully they are strong enough to make the best of the rest of their lives. I truly do wish them the best."
Just as Castro manipulated his victims for so long, he even seems to have orchestrated his own death, Rodriguez said.
"If he went out by his own hands, it's like he had control over this situation, too," she said.
Ariel Castro was born in Puerto Rico and came to Reading in the late 1960s with his mother, Lillian Castro, his two brothers and his sister after Lillian separated from her husband, Pedro, the children's father.
They lived with the Rodriguez family in a row home in the 400 block of North Second Street; the children attending Lauer's Park Elementary School.
In 1975, they moved to Cleveland and remained there, but Lillian, who is around 70, remains close to the Rodriguezes, coming back to Reading for visits a few times each year.
Rodriguez wasn't surprised by his suicide.
"The family had talked about him choosing the cowardly way to go," she said.
But other family members question whether Castro actually killed himself, in part because he apparently didn't leave a suicide note. And during his regular Monday visits from his mother, Castro recently told her he was being treated fairly in prison and was finding religion, Rodriguez said.
Some in the family think he was scared the prison population would attack him for his crimes, she said.
"Everyone has doubts and confusion," she said.
While those held hostage suffered the most, Castro's family members are also victims, being harassed even though they did nothing wrong, she said.
She described Lillian Castro as a good woman, the rock of the family, who raised Ariel the right way. She's also a devout Christian who is pained and guilt-ridden by her son's crimes and his suicide, Rodriguez said.
Now she fears media members and the public will again be hounding her, Rodriguez said.
"It's now round two of this," she said. "Hopefully it's the last round."
The family still hopes it can someday meet 6-year old Jocelyn Berry, Ariel Castro's daughter, who was born in his home to victim Amanda Berry.
"Just because a person is one way, that doesn't mean their family is the same way, and we want her to see that," Rodriguez said.
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