CLEVELAND (AP) — The U.S. house where three women were held captive and raped for over a decade has been quickly demolished, and authorities want to make sure the rubble isn't sold online as "murderabilia" — mementos from a murder scene.
The house was torn down Wednesday, amid cheers. Ariel Castro, 53, was sentenced last week to life in prison plus 1,000 years after pleading guilty to 937 counts including aggravated murder, kidnapping, rape and assault. A deal with prosecutors spared him from a possible death sentence for beating and starving one of the women until she miscarried.
Castro apologized but blamed his addiction to pornography.
One of the women, Michelle Knight, showed up at the house Wednesday to release some balloons. She said they represent "all the millions of children that were never found and the ones that passed away that were never heard."
There was applause as a relative of one victim took the controls of the wrecking crane for the first strike. Later, as the house debris disappeared into the basement, church bells rang.
The Plain Dealer in Cleveland reports that the Cuyahoga Land Bank wanted to complete the demolition in one day and shred the building materials.
Relatives said the house razing was part of the healing process.
The three women disappeared separately between 2002 and 2004, when they were 14, 16 and 20 years old. Each had accepted a ride from Castro.
They escaped May 6, when Amanda Berry, now 27, broke part of a door and yelled to neighbors for help. Castro was arrested that evening.
The house, which quickly became an attraction, had been kept under 24-hour police guard amid arson threats.
Prosecutors say Castro cried when he signed over the house deed and mentioned his "many happy memories" there with the women. They called his personality "distorted and twisted."
Information from: The Plain Dealer, http://www.cleveland.com