A man accused of holding three women captive in his home for a decade has been indicted on 329 charges including kidnapping, rape and murder for allegedly causing an abortion.
A Cuyahoga County, Ohio, grand jury returned the indictment Friday against Ariel Castro, a former school bus driver fired last fall.
“Today s indictments represent a first major step in the criminal justice process,” said County Prosecutor Timothy J. McGinty. “Our investigation continues, and we will present our findings to the grand jury.”
The grand jury charged Castro with one count of aggravated murder, saying he purposely caused the unlawful termination of a pregnancy.
Castro is accused of kidnapping Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight and holding them captive along with a 6-year-old girl he fathered with Berry.
He also was indicted on charges including 139 counts of rape, 177 counts of kidnapping and multiple counts of gross sexual imposition and felonious assault.
Castro’s attorneys have said he would plead not guilty to any indictment.
Castro is being held on $8 million bail. He has been taken off suicide prevention watch, jail officials said this week.
He was arrested May 6, shortly after Berry broke through a locked door, yelled to neighbors for help and escaped with DeJesus and Knight.
Berry, 27, told officers that she was forced to give birth in a plastic pool in the house so it would be easier to clean up. Berry said she, her baby and the two other women had never been to a doctor during their captivity.
Knight, 32, said her five pregnancies ended after Castro starved her for at least two weeks and “repeatedly punched her in the stomach until she miscarried,” authorities said.