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Ohio Backyard Could Yield New Charges; Suspect's Ties to Victim's Family; Daughter Calls Dad Evil and Demonic; Woman Survives 17 Days Under Rubble; Notes Found in Ohio Suspect's Home
Aired May 10, 2013 - 09:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: The warning signs, the abuse, and her message to her father.
ANGIE GREGG, ARIEL CASTRO'S DAUGHTER: There will be no visits, there will be no phone calls. He's dead to me.
COSTELLO: This morning, Cleveland comes together. A vigil, then a pause. To mend and heal.
A special edition of NEWSROOM, live from Cleveland, begins right now.
Good morning, I'm Carol Costello. Thank you so much for being with me. We will get to the latest on the Cleveland kidnapping investigation in just a minute. But we begin with an incredible rescue in Bangladesh. A miracle. A woman has survived 17 days trapped underneath the rubble of a collapsed garment factory.
Crews heard her pleas for help and pulled her from the debris. She is now being treated at the hospital. More than 1,000 other people died in the disaster. We'll have much more on today's dramatic rescue coming up in a live report. Unbelievable.
Now let's turn back to Cleveland, and the horrors that unfolded behind the padlocked doors and boarded-up windows of the home of Ariel Castro. One prosecutor calls the home a torture chamber and private prison in the heart of the city.
And exclusive images of Castro's backyard, what police find here could help prosecutors build their case for aggravated murder.
Let's head live to Cleveland and Pamela Brown. She has a -- she has a look at those exclusive pictures from Ariel Castro's backyard.
Good morning, Pamela.
PAMELA BROWN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, good morning to you, Carol. And the house behind me, Gina DeJesus we're covering, was her family healing. Amanda Berry is at home with her family and Michele Knight remains in the hospital.
This as we're learning from sources that Castro has been confessing about his actions over the past 10 years to authorities during interrogations.
BROWN (voice-over): These exclusive pictures obtained by CNN give us the first glimpse into Ariel Castro's backyard. Though much of it is obscured by tarps, you can see junk strewn all around and this eerie image of a white cross spotted by a neighbor.
At this first court appearance Castro looked despondent, repeatedly looking down and seemingly making eye contact with no one.
TIMOTHY MCGINTY, CUYAHOGA COUNTY PROSECUTOR: We evaluate whether to seek charges eligible for the death penalty.
BROWN: Following his arraignment, Cuyahoga County prosecutor Tim McGinty made it clear additional charges could likely be added. Castro already faces four counts of kidnapping and three counts of rape.
MCGINTY: For each and every act of sexual violence, rape, each day of kidnapping, every felonious assault, all his attempted murders, and each act of aggravated murder.
BROWN: An initial police incident report says one of the women, Michele Knight, became pregnant at least five times during her captivity and that each time Castro starved her and punched her repeatedly in the stomach until she miscarried.
For reason still unknown Amanda Berry was able to give birth to her baby and Castro forced Knight to deliver it according to the report. When the child stopped breathing Knight gave the baby CPR.
As investigators sift through at least 200 pieces of evidence taken out of this house of horrors, one in particular is getting attention. Details of a note written by Castro in 2004 have surfaced. According to law enforcement sources Castro wrote about being abused by a family member in an attempt to justify his own horrid actions. According to WOIO reporter Scott Taylor, Castro says, quote, "I am a sexual predator." He reportedly writes about picking up three women, saying they are here against their will because they made the mistake of getting in a car with a total stranger.
Sources say Castro has been cooperating investigators and has confessed to some of his actions. Ariel Castro's daughter Arlene gave an emotional interview to ABC News.
ARLENE CASTRO, ARIEL CASTRO'S DAUGHTER: I would like to say I am absolutely so, so sorry. I really want to see you, Gina. And I want you to meet my kids. I'm so sorry for everything.
BROWN: And according to the Ohio attorney general's office, there has been a rush placed on the results of the DNA test for Ariel Castro. Normally it takes 20 days, we're expecting the results today. The samples will be run through a database to see if Castro's DNA matches up with any previous crimes.
COSTELLO: Pamela Brown reporting live from Cleveland this morning.
We're also looking closely at a fascinating twist in the Cleveland investigation. Ariel Castro had close ties to the families of Gina DeJesus. The last and youngest of the three women who vanished more than nine years ago.
Gina's mother tells ABC News that after her daughter's disappearance, she would occasionally run into Ariel Castro.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID MUIR, ABC NEWS: You would see him and he would say, how are you doing?
NANCY RUIZ, GINA DEJESUS' MOTHER: Yes.
MUIR: Like nothing was wrong?
MUIR: That's chilling.
RUIZ: It is.
MUIR: All the while he had your daughter?
RUIZ: Yes. You know how many times I've been up and down that street, I passed by that street. I have a sister who lives two blocks and a half away from there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COSTELLO: Now a CNN exclusive. Ariel Castro's daughter, Angie, this is another one, she's speaking out this morning. She told us her father is dead to her and says her family does not have monster in their blood.
CNN's Laurie Segall has -- has the exclusive from Cleveland.
And Laurie, Angie seems -- well, she seems angry, confused and quite frankly scared of backlash.
LAURIE SEGALL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, you know, look, as she said -- she described herself, she said, I just feel disgust knowing that this happened. And she -- I should mention, she and her father were very, very close. She spent so much time in this home behind me when these girls were being held captive and she had no idea, but she took some time to gather her thoughts and she decided to come out with this yesterday and she wrote them all down. I want you to listen to what she said to me.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GREGG: I've put my words on paper because I have a hard time expressing everything that I want to say without forgetting certain things. I just don't want to leave anything out right now. First of all, I can't tell you how relieved I am to see two of the girls and that beautiful baby return home to their families, and that Michele is getting the treatment she needs and deserves.
I can't even begin to imagine the pain, frustration, and loneliness inflected upon them all of these long years that they were held against their will at no fault of their own. It is going to be a long road for the victims, their families, and our family.
My husband and I are in complete disbelief that the friendly, caring, doting man I knew as my daddy was, in fact, the most evil, vile, demonic criminal that I have met or heard of over the past 10 years. I think of all the family outings, the phone calls, texts, the gifts and his support through other heartbreaking family ordeals, and I wonder, this whole time, how he could be so good to us, but he took young women, little girls, someone else's babies, away from these families and over the years never felt enough guilt to just give up and let them free.
He didn't have to go this route. He could have sought help before he got to the point where he had to act on these horrific urges he had, and to go to the vigils, to show these girls the footage of their parents' pleas for their return, to rape, starve, and beat innocent human beings, I am disgusted.
I have been in the house on many occasions on Seymour and besides the peculiar ways that I figured to be habits of a long time bachelor, I saw nothing alarming. I was usually invited over, and as my husband, children, and I visited, ate, looked at photos, and listened to music, he appeared to be happy to see us and never rushed for us to leave.
I never heard anything out of place either, though the music was usually turned up. This was going on right under my nose. The way I feel? Not guilt, but sorrow, for the years stolen from these angels. These are the bravest women out there.
Another brave woman, my mom, Grimilda Figueroa, because she survived this monster, too. She put up with beatings and mental torment for the sake of her family and perhaps out of fear until one day, one beating set her off and she decided that she was going to take a stand. She left him in the mid '90s and never looked back. She was free.
Unfortunately, she passed in April 2012, and is not here to answer a lot of the questions only she could answer. She was diagnosed with brain cancer, among other things, and died of an accidental overdose of her prescription pills.
Now a couple of very important points that I would like to say is that this man who fathered me is not a reflection of who this family is and who I grew up to be. This family has had more than its shares of trials and tribulations. But please remember that the children in this family have ultimately paid a huge price as well. And I ask that their names, photos, privacy, please be respected as we've been hurt enough.
SEGALL: When you are reading this, you can hear the pain in your voice. You've learned that your father wasn't the guy you thought he was. What is that like?
GREGG: It's like a horror movie. It's watching a bad movie.
SEGALL: Only you're in it.
GREGG: It's -- only we're in it. We're, you know, the main characters, and days later, things are starting to come together for me. I never suspected anything was going on, but the more I sit and dwell on it, I think of things that make a whole lot of sense now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SEGALL: And, Carol, you know, you hear her talking about the love, the abuse, she is really trying to wrap her head around the fact that the father she's known and the father that raised her is not the man who said -- that he said he was. She said that yesterday was a tough day because she had to sit down her sons because she's a mother and she had to say this is what your grandfather did.
There were a lot of tears. You know, she said the younger one didn't quite understand, but right now they're all just trying to grapple with this reality of what went on in this home behind me for so many years.
COSTELLO: Laurie, something that's difficult to understand, and I know that family violence, there is a lot of psychological twists and turns associated with that. But on one hand, she said her father was a sweet, caring man, and on the other hand, she said her mother suffered from years and years of physical abuse. Yet she never expected her father to allegedly have done something like abuse three women for a decade. It's just confounding somehow.
SEGALL: No. It's a very good point. Look, it's a very good point. And I actually asked her about this. And she said she was very young. Her father would say things about her mother, like he -- that like her mother was cheating and, you know, this was an alternate reality for her because she was so young when her mother got out of that home. She actually stayed in this home with her father for a year because she felt very protective of him. You can see this bond right now so you can see that the reality she was living in wasn't exactly the reality she knows now.
COSTELLO: Wow. Laurie Segall, thanks so much.
In about 20 minutes, you'll hear more from Angie about her dad's violent behavior and all the signs that make so much sense to her now. The locked doors, the loud music and the rooms she was never allowed to see.
Also coming up on the NEWSROOM, a miracle in Bangladesh. An amazing rescue. A woman is pulled out alive after being trapped for 17 days in the rubble of a collapsed building.
COSTELLO: We'll get back to our special coverage out of Ohio in just a moment. But, first, we want to go back to that remarkable story of survival in Bangladesh.
A woman rescued after being trapped 17 days underneath the rubble of a collapsed garment factory. She cried for help. Workers pulled more than 1,000 bodies from the debris. More than 1,000 people died in this mess.
Sumnima Udas joins us now.
How did all -- how did all this unfold?
SUMNIMA UDAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's really quite an amazing story, Carol. I mean, after days of just pulling out decomposed bodies, rescue workers were really not expecting to find anyone alive. Again, it is the 17th day.
But as they were going through one of the lower floors, they heard a faint cry of a woman shouting for help. She was saying, "I'm alive, I'm alive, please rescue me." All of the workers started pinpointing or were able to pinpoint exactly where she was. She started digging.
And just a few hours ago, they were able to pull her out alive. We've seen pictures of her. She was wearing the purple top. She was put on a stretcher, put on a ambulance and then taken to a military hospital nearby.
She is in the hospital, able to speak to the doctors there. She's even spoken to the prime minister of the country. So, she is in stable condition -- Carol.
COSTELLO: I'm just wondering, you would assume she wouldn't have any food or water, or did she have access to something? For 17 days, she was buried.
UDAS: That's right. It's very unusual for anyone to survive underneath that kind of rubble and in those kinds of temperatures. It's very hot in Bangladesh or in this part of the world, in general right now.
But some of the local media reports there mentioned that perhaps she survived because early on in the rescue operation, the rescue workers were spraying a lot of oxygen and water into that building. So perhaps she was in one of those pockets where there was some oxygen and some water, and perhaps that's why she was able to survive.
Also, she had no injuries, there was no bleeding when they found her, so that's also another reason why she was able to survive for that long -- Carol.
COSTELLO: Unbelievable. Sumnima Udas, thank you so much.
Up next in THE NEWSROOM, more of our special coverage from Ohio. Why were three women kidnapped a decade were held captive? An answer may come from the writings of Ariel Castro.
We'll be right back.
COSTELLO: Now, more of our special coverage in Ohio.
Investigators are digging through notes found in the accused abductor's home. The note includes talk of suicide and are believed to have been written by Ariel Castro.
Scott Taylor is an investigative reporter for affiliate WOIO in Cleveland.
Scott, thanks for being with us.
SCOTT TAYLOR, WOIO INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER: Sure. Any time.
COSTELLO: I know you saw at least part of this document. Where was the document in the house? Do you know?
TAYLOR: I don't know where it was in the house. I do know that my sources have told me, and this has been confirmed through other media outlets, police found it, I'm being told that actually now that the FBI might have tracked it down in the house where they were searching in the earlier in the week and this note -- some people call it a suicide note, some people call it a confession -- it dates back to 2004, investigators believe that Ariel Castro wrote that note and they found it earlier this week.
COSTELLO: So, it dates back to 2004. And when you say he talks of suicide, what exactly does he say about that?
TAYLOR: Well, he talked about killing himself. He says that he's a sexual predator in the note. He says he's sick. He isn't sure what is wrong in his head. That he needs help.
He also as I mentioned, talks about killing himself and when he's dead, taking all of the money that he has saved and giving it to his victims. He says, "My victims."
Now this note I believe was written after Michele was already in there, remember, she was abducted in 2004, Michele Knight, and Amanda Berry, 2003 abducted, and written by Ariel Castro shortly after Gina DeJesus was taken, at the age of 14 on a Cleveland street back in 2004.
COSTELLO: We also have word that in those same writings. He also placed blame on the victims.
TAYLOR: Yes, he does kind of in a cryptic way. He says to potential victims of other predators that, hey, make sure you don't get in somebody's car. That was the case of Gina and Amanda.
So, you're right. You hit the nail on the head. It looks like that he somehow blaming the victims.
But then he goes on and says he apologizes. He apologizes to anyone, anyone at all, that this has affected.
COSTELLO: So strange, and when your source was showing you this document, what was his or her reaction?
TAYLOR: You know what? I'm not going to talk about that at all. I'm very protective of my sources. I'm an investigative journalist in town. And as a fellow journalist, you don't really talk about your sources.
COSTELLO: No, I totally understand. It's just so confusing. If he wrote these things in 2004 and went on to kidnap other women, keep them more than a decade, it's just -- it's strange.
TAYLOR: Yes, but he didn't go on and kidnap other victims, according to this letter. Now, remember, you may have -- you may not know about this, but it was written in 2004, and he said in this letter, if you -- if it turns out he actually did write this letter, he said that he only did bad things to three women. Just a total of three women.
He also says, that he has no feeling, no feeling for the bad things that he's done.
COSTELLO: Unbelievable. Scott Taylor, thank you for sharing the information. We appreciate it.
TAYLOR: Any time.
COSTELLO: The accused kidnapper's daughter says his actions over the years were odd, but now make sense to her.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANGIE GREGG, DAUGHTER OF KIDNAPPING SUSPECT ARIEL CASTRO: Ever since my mom lived in that house, the basement was always kept locked. I asked him if I could see my room for old time's sake, and he says, oh honey, there is so much junk up there, and you don't want to go up there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COSTELLO: More from the CNN exclusive, when we come back.
COSTELLO: Good morning. Thank you so much for being with me. I'm Carol Costello.
More special coverage from Ohio in just a minute, but first, a look at other top stories in just 30 minutes past the hour.
We're watching the opening bell on Wall Street. Stock futures have been pointing to early gains after Thursday's lower close, and investors are eager to hear what Fed Chair Ben Bernanke has to say. He speaks in just a few minutes in Chicago.
The International Space Station crew will take care of a repair job tomorrow. The commander tweets, two crew members will go on a space walk to fix an ammonia leak in the cooling system. The leak was detected after the crew saw small white flakes floating away from the station.
NASA says no one is in danger.
A tragedy during training for America's cup on San Francisco Bay, and the incident is raising concern that the 72-foot catamarans may be too dangerous for the race.
Double Olympic medalist Andrew Simpson died after the boat he was on capsized. Simpson was trapped underneath the boat and efforts to revive him were unsuccessful. Other members of Sweden's Artemis racing team are OK, though.
All right. Let's go back to our special coverage out of Cleveland.
Investigators are hunting for more clues out of a home where three women were held captive for a decade. CNN has obtained these exclusive photographs taken by a neighbor of Ariel Castro. It was taken this week as the FBI dug up Castro's backyard.
And there is the possibility he could face aggravated murder charges. The prosecutor says he'll try to persuade a grand jury to indict Castro that way.