DNA tests show an Ohio man accused of holding three women hostage for a decade is the father of a six-year-old girl born to one of the victims, authorities say.
Ohio attorney-general Mike DeWine said on Friday that forensic tests did not link Ariel Castro to any other state cases, although the FBI was still checking the sample against national cases.
The 52-year-old former bus driver was arrested soon after Amanda Berry, her six-year-old daughter, and two other women, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight, were found in his house in a run-down neighbourhood of Cleveland on Monday.
DeWine said in the written statement that forensic scientists obtained a sample of Castro’s DNA late Thursday afternoon and “worked throughout the night to confirm that Castro is the father of the six-year-old girl born in captivity to one of the kidnapping victims”.
Berry’s baby was born in a plastic inflatable children’s swimming pool on Christmas Day, 2006, authorities have said.
Ropes and chains
Police said earlier that they found ropes and chains in the house that had been used to hold them prisoner.
Officials said the three women were at times bound and endured starvation, beatings, sexual assaults and in the case of one of them, several miscarriages deliberately induced by their captor by starving her and beating her in the abdomen.
Timothy McGinty, the Cuyahoga County prosecutor, said on Thursday that he would seek murder charges that could carry the death penalty against Castro because police said there was evidence that Knight suffered forced miscarriages.
“The law of Ohio calls for the death penalty for those most depraved criminals who commit aggravated murder during the course of a kidnapping,” he said.
The city of Cleveland has already filed kidnapping and rape charges against Castro, who appeared briefly in a municipal court on Thursday.
A judge set bond for Castro at $8 million – $2 million each for the three young women and a child born in captivity.
Castro’s two brothers, Pedro and Onil, were originally arrested over the abductions, but were not charged over the case.
Police revealed that the women, who were rescued on Monday after Amanda Berry fled with the help of a neighbour, had not seen any previous chances to escape in nearly 10 years of captivity.
“The only opportunity, after interviewing the young ladies, to escape was the other day when Amanda escaped,” Cleveland Deputy Police Chief Ed Tomba said.
“They don’t believe that they’ve been outside that home for the last 10 years respectively,” he said.
“They were not in one room, but they did know each other and they did know each other was there.”