Skip to main content

Coroner says Ariel Castro's death was definitely not an accident

By Stephanie Gallman, Kevin Conlon and Ben Brumfield, CNN
October 11, 2013 -- Updated 1631 GMT (0031 HKT)
  • Coroner who performed Castro's autopsy says Castro killed himself
  • She is dismissing a state report suggesting that Castro's deat may been an accident
  • The Cleveland kidnapper pleaded guilty in August and hanged himself last month
  • Castro's body was found with an open Bible and pictures of his family

(CNN) -- Convicted kidnapper Ariel Castro killed himself, the Ohio medical examiner who conducted his autopsy says, disputing assertions that the convicted kidnapper and rapist may have died accidentally.

Coroner Jan Gorniak had harsh words for Ohio corrections officials for raising the possibility in a report Thursday that Castro's death may have been the accidental result of auto-erotic asphyxiation. That involves depriving the brain of oxygen by controlled strangulation to intensify a sexual experience.

"I did the autopsy myself. I saw the ligature. I saw the pictures of the cell," she said. "It was a suicide."

The state report released Thursday, meanwhile, also found that prison guards falsified logs and did not check on Castro as often as they should have. They appeared to have also falsified "the post log book for their rounds," according to the report, from the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction.

Dr. Drew: Castro death 'Dexter' like
Prosecutor: 'A coward's way out'
Ariel Castro interrogation tapes
Castro victim's family react to death

The guards were placed on leave as authorities looked into Castro's death. Investigators have not decided on whether to take any disciplinary action.

As for the report's mention of the possibility that Castro's death was accidental, the coroner said no one involved in the report consulted her -- and she's not happy about that.

"They were outside of their lane ... I don't think anyone else should have an opinion on what the cause of death was," Gorniak said.

In its report, the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction noted that Casto's body was found hanging from a sheet wrapped around his neck and tied to a hinge in the window of his cell.

"His pants and underwear were pulled down to his ankles," the report said. "The relevance of this finding is unclear. These facts, however, were relayed to the Ohio State Highway Patrol for consideration of the possibility of auto-erotic asphyxiation."

Gorniak said she was not made aware that Castro was found with his pants down in the jail cell, but that does not change the cause of death. There were no signs that he was sexually stimulated, she said. And his pants may have slipped off while he was hanging, she said. He left no suicide note, the report said, but not everyone who commits suicide does, the coroner said.

Ariel Castro's son describes personal torment after father's crimes

Castro was imprisoned for more than 1,000 years for kidnapping and raping three women who he held in captive in his Cleveland home for years. He was found dead in his jail cell on September 3.

Meanwhile, the report released Thursday also said that two prison guards responsible for checking on Castro "did not timely perform" required rounds.

Part of complete coverage on
Ohio women found
May 14, 2014 -- Updated 2318 GMT (0718 HKT)
Michelle Knight wasn't the only one being held by Ariel Castro. But she knew she was different.
May 6, 2014 -- Updated 1605 GMT (0005 HKT)
Michelle Knight remembers exactly how Ariel Castro lured her into his home.
November 7, 2013 -- Updated 0007 GMT (0807 HKT)
Michelle Knight squeezes her eyes shut and cries as she listens to the 911 call that led police to rescue her from the house where Ariel Castro held her hostage for more than a decade.
September 4, 2013 -- Updated 2236 GMT (0636 HKT)
Ariel Castro who was sentenced to life plus 1,000 years for kidnapping, raping and holding captive three women was found hanging in his prison cell.
August 1, 2013 -- Updated 1632 GMT (0032 HKT)
Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus weren't in the courtroom. But their diaries gave authorities a window into the horror they suffered for a decade.
August 4, 2013 -- Updated 1737 GMT (0137 HKT)
They were living in hell, and Ariel Castro did all he could to make sure they'd never escape it.
August 5, 2013 -- Updated 1038 GMT (1838 HKT)
Michelle Knight, one of three women kidnapped by Ariel Castro, returned Friday to the Cleveland house where she was chained up and tormented for 11 years, a neighbor said.
August 1, 2013 -- Updated 1822 GMT (0222 HKT)
When her chance came, kidnapping victim Michelle Knight lit into Ariel Castro, the man who held her captive and raped her in his Cleveland home for a decade.
August 2, 2013 -- Updated 1354 GMT (2154 HKT)
The woman's voice wavered, just for a moment.
August 2, 2013 -- Updated 1356 GMT (2156 HKT)
From the outside, the home at 2207 Seymour Avenue looked like most any other in Cleveland's Westside neighborhood.
July 9, 2013 -- Updated 1406 GMT (2206 HKT)
For the first time since their rescue, the world is hearing directly from the three women who were held captive in Cleveland for a decade.
August 2, 2013 -- Updated 0757 GMT (1557 HKT)
For his victims, Thursday was roughly a decade in coming.
May 10, 2013 -- Updated 0025 GMT (0825 HKT)
In retrospect, there were plenty of signs that something was wrong.
August 1, 2013 -- Updated 1710 GMT (0110 HKT)
For the first time, take a look inside the Cleveland house where three women were held captive for a decade.
May 13, 2013 -- Updated 1055 GMT (1855 HKT)
How the macabre enslavement of two girls and a woman began has deeply disturbed a nation, if not the world.
May 19, 2013 -- Updated 1537 GMT (2337 HKT)
When the police arrived at Castro's house, it was almost peaceful. As if nobody else was there. And then they heard the sound of scurrying feet upstairs.
May 13, 2013 -- Updated 1453 GMT (2253 HKT)
Ariel Castro's brothers say he's "a monster" who should rot in jail and they "want the world to know" they had no idea their brother was holding women captive.
May 8, 2014 -- Updated 0114 GMT (0914 HKT)
Two were just teenagers when they were kidnapped, but the three women have finally been found a decade later.
May 8, 2013 -- Updated 0933 GMT (1733 HKT)
When Amanda Berry screamed for help through a crack in the front door of the house where she was being held, she set in motion an end to roughly a decade of captivity for herself and two other women.
May 10, 2013 -- Updated 1319 GMT (2119 HKT)
His Cleveland neighbors are trying to come with grips with the two personas -- the first, they thought they knew, the other, the one that authorities describe.