Neighbors say Cleveland kidnap suspect was 'charismatic' guy

Neighbors say Cleveland kidnap suspect was 'charismatic' guy

Ariel Castro, seen here in this undated photo, has been arrested on kidnapping charges after 3 women who were reported 10 years ago were found in his house in Cleveland, Ohio on May 6, 2013. (Facebook)

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by ALEX PEREZ (@perezreports) , MATTHEW JAFFE (@matthewbjaffe) and STEVEN PORTNOY (@stevenportnoy)

WHAS11.com

Posted on May 7, 2013 at 8:42 AM

Updated Tuesday, May 7 at 8:42 AM

(ABC News) --  A neighbor described one of the men arrested in connection to the disappearance of three Cleveland women as a "charismatic" guy and said there was no indication that the women ever lived in the man's home as alleged.



Juan Perez, 27, has lived two houses down from the home in question since he was 5, and has known the arrested man, Ariel Castro, 52, since he was a child, he told ABC News.

"My heart is feeling rough right now to know that this happened two houses from me and that none of us noticed anything," Perez said. "I feel ashamed of myself and my community right now and this neighborhood that we didn't see anything."

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, 52, is in custody and charges could come as early as today, police confirmed to ABC News affiliate WEWS-TV. Authorities believe Castro, who was once a city school bus driver, was keeping the women locked inside his modest two-story home, which he has owned since 1992, ABC News has learned.

 Castro was arrested on a domestic violence charge in 1993, which was later dropped, WEWS reported. That same year, Castro pled guilty to disorderly conduct, according to WEWS.

Investigators believe that Castro was helped by his brothers, who did not live in the home. Police have not identified the two other men in custody but said their ages were 50 and 54.

Gina DeJesus, Amanda Berry and Michele Knight were found alive Monday night after they vanished a decade ago near their homes in Cleveland. Berry escaped from the home at about 6 p.m. with the help of a passing neighbor. Berry then called police, who pulled DeJesus and Knight from the home.

 The women were taken to Metro Health Medical Center, where they are "doing well," according to police. They have since been released.

Berry identified Castro as her captor in the frantic 911 call.

Neighbor Perez said, "I can't believe it because the fear of what could have happened when I was young, the fear of what could have happened to my friends when I was young, my sister. It's an impossible feeling."

Perez said he had no idea anyone besides Castro was ever in the house. Perez never heard or saw anything that would make him think anyone lived at the home on Seymour Avenue.

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."

Perez said he's happy the women are alive, but in shock that something like this could have happened so close to home.

"He 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."

Click here for more from ABC News.

 

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