CLEVELAND - Residents in the tough Cleveland neighborhood where three women were secretly imprisoned for a decade reacted with scorn and grim satisfaction Wednesday after Ariel Castro hanged himself in his cell barely a month into a life sentence.
Even the prosecutor on the case joined in.
"This man couldn't take, for even a month, a small portion of what he had dished out for more than a decade," said Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Tim McGinty.
Castro, 53, was found hanging from a bedsheet Tuesday night at the state prison in Orient, said JoEllen Smith, a spokeswoman for the corrections system. Prison medical staff performed CPR before Castro was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
"He took the coward's way out," said Elsie Cintron, who lived up the street from the former school bus driver. "We're sad to hear that he's dead, but at the same time, we're happy he's gone, and now we know he can't ask for an appeal or try for one if he's acting like he's crazy."
As the shocking news set in, prison officials faced questions about how a high-profile inmate managed to commit suicide while in protective custody. Just a month ago, an Ohio death row inmate killed himself days before he was to be executed.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio called for a full investigation by state prison authorities.
"As horrifying as Mr. Castro's crimes may be, the state has a responsibility to ensure his safety from himself and others," executive director Christine Link said in a statement.
Castro's three victims declined to comment.
Castro was sentenced Aug. 1 to life in prison plus 1,000 years after pleading guilty to 937 counts, including kidnapping and rape, in a deal to avoid the death penalty. At his sentencing, he told the judge: "I'm not a monster. I'm sick."
Castro had been in a cell by himself in protective custody, meaning he was checked every 30 minutes, because of fears his notoriety could lead to attacks from other inmates, authorities said.
He was not on a suicide watch, which entails constant supervision, Smith said.
Castro had been on a suicide watch for a few weeks in the Cuyahoga County jail, before he pleaded guilty and was turned over to state authorities, and police said after his arrest that they had found a years-old note in which he talked about suicide.
But authorities at the jail dropped the suicide watch in June after concluding he was unlikely to take his own life.