Ariel Castro killed himself yesterday. He hung himself in his cell at the prison in Ohio where he was being held. Castro was the man who kidnapped and imprisoned three young women between 2002 and 2004 and kept them captive until May of this year. But for one of the young women’s escape efforts all three of the women and the six year old daughter of one of the women would still be held captive.
My first thought upon reading the news of Castro’s death was – good riddance. My second thought was – coward. When it was clear to him that he was going to spend the rest of his days imprisoned he decided to cash in his chips. Interesting that he chose that route after he himself kidnapped and imprisoned young women for nearly a decade.
I am sorry, there is no sympathy for that man here. What he took from those young women and their families is both unforgettable and unforgivable. What he owed them was the satisfaction of knowing that he would pay the legal penalty for his heinous acts by virtue of spending the remainder of his life in prison. He owed them the enduring imprint that the justice system works in favor of victims. But he robbed them of that enduring imprint with his suicide. Now it is a closed chapter where the women survived and will hopefully move on to full lives, but where the perpetrator who controlled their environment for all those years also ultimately controlled the end of the story.
The taxpayer in me thinks that it is good that the citizens in Ohio have one less inmate to support. It costs a pretty penny to house someone in a prison for decades, and at age 57 it looked like that was what Castro had ahead of him – decades in prison. Of course he might have been shanked and killed in prison by other inmates at some point. Even with criminals there is a a code of decency (however, distorted it may seem to us on the outside). I don’t think Castro was going to win any popularity contests on the inside and he likely knew that.
I surmise his suicide was ultimately a blend of control and cowardice. Heaven knows it was not remorse for his actions. Remorse would have kicked in long ago after the first kidnapping. No – it couldn’t be that. Perhaps he had regret that he was caught. I imagine that is true for most criminals. Alas, it is all armchair quarterbacking at this point as the man is dead.
In my mind, he lived and died as a coward. I cannot find anything in his actions since 2002 or in his death that denote character or strength. In contrast, three young women endured and survived so much and now walk forward into new chapters of their lives. They are the heroes in this story and it is now their character and strength that will serve to remind us how durable the human soul can be.
Day one thousand five hundred and eighteen of the new forty – obla di obla da