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How convenient: Cleveland child rapist and kidnapper Ariel Castro ‘found dead in cell’

Ariel Castro sits in the courtroom during the sentencing phase Thursday, Aug. 1, 2013, in Cleveland.  Castro, convicted of holding three women captive in a house he turned into a prison and raping them repeatedly for a decade, was sentenced Thursday to life without parole plus 1,000 years. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

HOW Convenient: Ariel Castro, 53, the man who kidnapped three women – Gina de Jesus, Amanda Berry and Michelle Knight – held them prisoner in his Cleveland house for years has been found dead in his prison cell. Just one month into a whole life sentence plus 1,000 years Castro is dead.

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Posted: 4th, September 2013 | In: Reviews | Comment (1)

Madeleine McCann gets dragged into the Amanda Berry story – Charlene Downs and Ben Needham are ignored

Missing Women Found

THE story of Amanda Berry, Michelle Knight and Gina DeJesus’s escape from a suburban prison is made made relevant to a British audience by the mention of missing child Madeleine McCann, the benchmark of not only missing children but now of all missing teenagers and women, too.

Alison Philips writes in the Mirror:

Inspiring mothers who fought for missing daughters keep hope of Madeleine McCann miracle alive

A miracle is a happening so incredible is must be the work of God.

The discovery of three women held captive in a house for 10 years can only have reignited hope Madeleine may one day be found.

Indeed, Gina DeJesus’s aunt Sandra Ruiz said: “If you don’t believe in miracles, I suggest you think again.”

From the perspective of the missing women’s loved one their reappearance after ten years of nothing must seem like a miracle. But from the victims’ viewpoint, it must be anything but. They endured captivity at the hands of three men.

What happened to Madeleine McCann remains a mystery. When she vanished, the Mirror conjured six theories, none of which involved the supernatural or God. The Mirror’s six theories of what happened to the innocent child were: “PAEDOPHILE GANG”, the “LONE PAEDOPHILE”, the “JEALOUS MOTHER”, “DROWNED”, the “OPPORTUNIST PAEDOPHILE” and the “CHILDLESS COUPLE”.

Alison Philips then watches the parents:

Last weekend Kate McCann boarded a flight alone to return to Portugal where her daughter Madeleine was abducted almost exactly six years ago. She was going back to the spot where she lost her three-year-old daughter and to the moment she last saw her, tucked up in bed with Cuddle Cat.

Kate was also going back to where she lost her own life, the life she had before it became defined by loss forever. The pain of returning to that whitewashed town on the Algarve must be horrific.

And yet friends say Kate does it to feel close to Madeleine.

This is news, how?

Presumably immersing herself in the pain of her loss is preferable to that awful alternative – forgetting about her little girl. And Kate can’t do that. She more than anyone knows that she wasn’t there when her daughter needed her most.

So now she must fight for the rest of her life to ensure that if Madeleine is still alive, she knows her mother is there for her now.

That’s pretty brutal by Philips. isn’t it. She says Kate McCann’s search for her daughter is in part inspired by notions that she let her daughter down. How does that make Kate McCann an “inspiring mother” as the title to Philip’s piece states?

We don’t yet know Amanda Berry, 16, Gina DeJesus, then 14, and Michelle Knight, then 22, were kidnapped. But we do know they were out in public at the time.

Philips then speculates:

Even if she is dead, Kate’s job remains to keep her daughter’s memory alive because while memory remains, so does life.

In appearing to salute Kate McCann, Philips now says the tabloids’ Our Maddie might be dead. Theta’s the very thing the McCanns’ campaign to find her doesn’t want us to think.

Indeed Kate and Gerry said:

“The discovery of these young women reaffirms our hope of finding Madeleine, which has never diminished. Their recovery is also further evidence that children are sometimes abducted and kept for long periods. So we ask the public to remain vigilant in the ongoing search for Madeleine. Our thoughts are with the women in America and their families.”

But this is an opportunistic and wholly shallow article the intent of which is to fill space by linking events on Cleveland to British readers. Philips then writes:

And this week Kate’s pain must be even more acute as the discovery of three women held captive in an American house for 10 years can only have reignited hope that Madeleine may too one day be found.

They must have. Just as they must have when Jaycee Dugard was found alive and when Elizabeth Fritzl emerged from erh father’s cellar.

The tabloids never say how such events give hope to Andrew Gosden’s parentsCharlene Downes’s loved ones or Ben Needham’s mother. The points of reference have been set. Madeleine McCann is the benchmark for all missing children.

Philips ploughs on:

Like Kate McCann, the mothers of Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight, had fought tirelessly to keep the stories of their missing daughters in the public eye in the hope that one day it might help bring them home.

Amanda Berry’s mother was led up the garden path by psychics. Gina DeJesus’s father campaigned tirelessly, marking the anniversary of her disappearance with a rally. We know next to nothing of Michelle Knight. Philips makes an assumption.

Gina DeJesus’ mother Nancy Ruiz had plastered posters of her missing daughter all around the neighbourhood after she went missing aged 14 as she walked home one day from school. One of the posters somehow made it into the home where she was chained up.

However bad her life must have been in that suburban dungeon – and it must have been horrific – there must have been some crumb of comfort for Gina knowing her mum was still looking for her, waiting for her to return.

Oh, please. The kidnapped teen got a crumb of comfort from a poster that points to what she didn’t have, what was ripped from her? That’s comforting? It sounds more like torture.

Just as Amanda Berry’s mother Louwana Miller scoured the streets for her daughter until she made herself sick and finally died, broken-hearted, seven years ago.

And that is why Kate McCann cannot give up her search, however painful it might be.

Even if it is the remotest chance, she has to ensure if Madeleine is alive she knows her mother is waiting for her.

How does she ensure what Madeleine knows that, then?

These mothers were all extraordinary in their own way in refusing to stop fighting for their missing daughters.

No. They were not ALL extraordinary. They did exactly what any rational, loving mother would be expected to if their child vanished. They are ordinary women thrust into extraordinary circumstances.

But in another way they were totally ordinary – isn’t it what any mother would hope to do in this situation? And that’s what is extraordinary about motherhood – the superhuman strength it gives to women.

Philips has thus managed to make the extraordinary story ordinary. Who dare say tabloids only deal in sensationalism?

“The nightmare is over,” Cleveland FBI Special Agent Stephen Anthony said during a press conference yesterday in Ohio. For Kate McCann the nightmare goes on until she either dies herself or Madeleine is found.

Every day she must relive the nightmare for Madeleine, just as the mothers of Amanda, Gina and Michelle did for 10 years. In doing so, these dedicated women are an inspiration to mothers everywhere.

They inspire mothers to be, erm, ordinary?


Posted: 8th, May 2013 | In: Madeleine McCann, Reviews | Comments (2)

Amanda Berry, Michelle Knight and Gina DeJesus news round-up: sex, popsicles and experts

castro kidnappers 1

AMANDA Berry, Michelle Knight and Gina DeJesus news round-up.

The three women from Cleveland, Ohio, are back with their families.  Ariel Castro (52), a former bus driver, and his two brothers, Pedro (54) and Onil (50) have been arrested.

The Child:

Amanda Berry emerged form the hosue with a six-year-old child.

ABC News: “Cleveland Girl Born in Captivity ‘Smiling,’ Eating Popsicles”

The Dungeon:

Daily Star (front page): “Sex Slaves Chained For 10 Years in Dungeon”

“They had five babies in shackles”

Daily Mirror (front page): “Five Babies Born in Brothers Grim Dungeon”

NYDaily News: “Three kidnapping victims were repeatedly raped, resulting in 5 pregnancies: sources

What sources? We’re not told. It’s just sources. Still, sex sells…


Police would not say how the women were taken captive or how they were hidden in the neighborhood where they had vanished. Investigators also would not say whether they were kept in restraints inside the house or sexually assaulted.

The Women:

The Times (front page): “Police praises the courage of women who survived ten years of captivity”

The Castros:

Irish Times: “The son of a Cleveland man suspected of abducting three women interviewed the mother of one of the kidnapped women months after her disappearance, while working as a student journalist.”

In a bizarre twist in the remarkable story of three women freed on Monday after a decade in captivity, it emerged yesterday that the son of Ariel Castro, one of the suspected kidnappers, interviewed the mother of Gina DeJesus, a 14-year-old who went missing in April 2004.

Castro’s son, writing at the time as Ariel Castro but now known as Anthony Castro, interviewed the mother Nancy Ruiz for an article in a local newspaper in 2004, seemingly unaware of his father’s alleged role in the teenager’s disappearance.

Asked by a local news station about his 2004 interview and the events of recent days, Anthony Castro, now 31, said: “This is beyond comprehension . . . I’m truly stunned right now.” The older Ariel Castro (52), a former bus driver, and his two brothers, Pedro (54) and Onil (50) were arrested on Monday after one of the women, Amanda Berry, escaped with help from a neighbour and alerted police.

“Help me, I am Amanda Berry,” the 27-year-old woman told police in a hysterical call to 911 emergency services from a neighbour’s house. “I’ve been kidnapped and I’ve been missing for 10 years. And I’m . . . I’m here, I’m free now.”

The Police:

Four years ago, in another poverty-stricken part of town, police were heavily criticized following the discovery of 11 women’s bodies in the home and backyard of Anthony Sowell, who was later convicted of murder and sentenced to death.

The families of Sowell’s victims accused police of failing to properly investigate the disappearances because most of the women were addicted to drugs and poor. For months, the stench of death hung over the house, but it was blamed on a sausage factory next door…

This time, two neighbors said they called police to the Castro house on separate occasions.

Elsie Cintron, who lives three houses away, said her daughter saw a naked woman crawling in the backyard several years ago and called police. “But they didn’t take it seriously,” she said.

Another neighbor, Israel Lugo, said he heard pounding on some of the doors of the house in November 2011. Lugo said officers knocked on the front door, but no one answered. “They walked to side of the house and then left,” he said.

“Everyone in the neighborhood did what they had to do,” said Lupe Collins, who is close to relatives of the women. “The police didn’t do their job.”


There had been signs that something was amiss inside the two-story house with faded paint, which sits on a street packed with small homes with open porches just steps away from a gas station and a Caribbean grocery. Neighbors said that several years ago, a naked woman was seen crawling on her hands and knees in the back yard, and pounding was heard on the doors in 2011. Police showed up each time but stayed outside, the neighbors said.

The home in a heavily Latino neighborhood was owned by Ariel Castro, 52, a former school bus driver who was arrested along with his brothers, Pedro Castro, 54, and Onil Castro, 50.

City officials said children and family services investigators had gone to the home in January 2004, when two of the girls were missing, because Ariel Castro had left a child on a school bus.

Investigators “knocked on the door but were unsuccessful in connection with making any contact with anyone inside that home,” Cleveland Mayor Frank G. Jackson said at a news conference, adding that officials “have no indication that any of the neighbors, bystanders, witnesses or anyone else has ever called regarding any information regarding activity that occurred at that house on Seymour Avenue.’’

That’s not what Charles Ramsey said. The hero of the hour said the Castros were normal guys.

Atlantic Wire: “Charles Ramsey Is an Internet Hero for All the Wrong Reasons”

No one is saying that Charles Ramsey isn’t worthy of the “hero” mantle. He helped save three women who were held captive — brutally — in his Cleveland neighborhood for over a decade. But the Internet’s instant meme-ification of this man — a lower-income black man talking about a horrible crime, played on repeat at the expense of stereotypes and with the blinders fully up about the truth — it’s all a little gross, no?

The Loved Ones:

Gina’s aunt Sandra Ruiz:  “If you don’t believe in miracles, I suggest you think again.”

The Experts:

The Telegraph:  “Kidnap experts say it is possible the three women held prisoner in a Cleveland house may have developed a bond with their kidnappers, reports Colin Freeman”

What might seem the most obvious theory, that the house was some kind of cleverly-disguised jail, is not the necessarily the most likely. While police said on Tuesday that they thought the three girls had been tied up, kidnap specialists point out that holding them prisoners against their will would be difficult to do without neighbours becoming suspicious, especially over a long period of time.

ABC: Psychic Who Said Amanda Berry Was Dead Silent After Berry Is Found Alive

Sylvia Browne has gone oddly quiet.


Posted: 8th, May 2013 | In: Reviews | Comment (1)