CLEVELAND, Ohio —A cousin of the three men accused of the decade-long kidnap of three Ohio women told of her shock and shame at the allegations Wednesday and said her family was as surprised as anyone else.
Maria Castro Montes appealed to the public not to judge her relatives by the alleged actions of cousin Ariel Castro, a 52-year-old former school bus driver of Puerto Rican origin, who along with two brothers is now in police custody.
“This has been devastating for the Castro family, but obviously all of this is more devastating for the families of those three girls and those three girls themselves and what they have been through,” Castro Montes told AFP.
“On behalf of the Castro family I would like to say to all of them that we are truly sorry for their pain, for what they have suffered. And if this was done by a family member of ours, they need to pay.”
Amanda Berry, 27, Gina DeJesus, 23, and Michelle Knight, 32, were freed from a home on Seymour Avenue, Cleveland on Monday, 10 years after they disappeared in separate incidents.
Cleveland police chief Michael McGrath said he expected Castro and his brothers, also aged in their fifties, to be charged later in the day after a crime that left many wondering how it could have gone undetected for so long.
Castro Montes stressed that she had no idea that the girls were being held captive.
“Let it be known, please do not judge an entire family on one person’s actions and that people not judge an entire community or an entire race on one person’s actions,” she said.
“His actions are not the actions of this family. He fooled our family, he fooled the community, he fooled his own children, he fooled his own grandkids.
“It’s a horrible thought, but obviously someone that is capable of these things, this is a sociopathic behavior that obviously he hid well for many years.”