Cleveland kidnapper Ariel Castro 'may have died from autoerotic asphyxiation'

Report reveals evidence showing that Castro was not regarded as a suicide risk and was found with his pants around his ankles

Ariel Castro, sentenced to life in prison for kidnapping three women in Cleveland, may have died in his prison cell while trying to receive sexual thrill through autoerotic asphyxiation.

Investigators looking into the circumstances of the death, which occurred just weeks into his jail term, noted that Castro was found with his pants around his ankles when he was strangled by a bedsheet on 3 September.

An Ohio prisons review was released on Thursday which proposed the explanation also pointed out that a full psychological evaluation indicated he was not to be considered a suicide threat.

Castro did not leave a suicide note, and had expressed optimism that same day about the warden’s recommendation he be moved to serve his time away from other inmates.

An Ohio state patrol report is yet to be filed on what happened, but the prisons review findings have been passed on so the evidence can be used in “consideration of the possibility of autoerotic asphyxiation”.

The initial report also found that two guards falsified prison logbooks which kept record of how many times Castro was checked on in the hours before his death.

The state patrol said it would have no comment until it had released the results of its own investigation.

Castro, 53, had just begun serving a life sentence after he pleaded guilty in August to kidnapping three women off the streets of Cleveland, imprisoning them in his home for a decade and repeatedly raping and beating them.

The coroner for Franklin County, Jan Gorniak, recorded Castro's death as a suicide last week and said yesterday that her office was not told his pants were down. She nonetheless stood by her initial findings.

In Castro's cell, officials found a Bible open to John, Chapters 2 and 3 and pictures of Castro's family arranged “in a poster-board fashion,” according to the report.

Surveillance video indicates guards did not do at least eight required checks on Castro the afternoon and evening before his death and falsified the logs, according to the report. Two checks were done properly just before Castro died.

The report also says staff failed to make sure Castro watched a suicide-prevention video when he first arrived in August.

Similar allegations of falsified logs have been made against two other guards in the 4 August suicide of a death row inmate just days before he was to be executed.

After the release of Thursday's report, the prison system announced that supervisors will conduct random checks at all prisons to make sure guards are doing their rounds.

Castro's lawyer brushed off the suggestion of autoerotic asphyxiation and said the prison bears responsibility for his death.

The prison guards union accused the state of scapegoating employees instead of dealing with overcrowding and violence behind bars.

The Castro report also found that an ambulance was significantly late in arriving but that the delay probably didn't affect the outcome.

In court, Castro blamed his problems on an addiction to pornography. He described himself as a sex addict and said: “I'm not a monster. I'm sick.”

Additional reporting by The Associated Press

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