Reflection, closure on Castro suicide

On Friday, September 6, the interrogation tapes of Ariel Castro were obtained by NBC, which as of now has only been released to the public in portions in order to protect Amanda Berry, Georgina “Gina” DeJesus, and Michelle Knight. Three days prior to the release of the video—which details the abduction and acts committed against these women—Castro hung himself in his prison cell. In what should have been the conclusion to a case that has been more than ten years in the making, the video still remains.

Castro was arrested four months ago, on May 6, as televisions across Northeast Ohio flashed with the breaking news that Berry, DeJesus and Knight were finally returning home. Everything happened so fast: News media from around the nation rushed to Seymour Avenue in Cleveland, Ohio. Charles Ramsey, the man who helped Amanda Berry break free from Castro’s house, became an instant internet celebrity and local hero for Clevelanders. Facebook and Twitter exploded with unanimous cries and a declaration that faith in humanity had finally been restored, while the entire city of Cleveland was finally able to let out a decade-long awaited sigh of relief. In a city as bleak and grey as “The 216” often is, it was nice to finally see the Sun pierce through its despair and share some of its light and warmth.

And for the first time I actually wished I could be back in Cleveland, living this moment instead of trying to digest it all from behind my computer screen.

Truthfully, I had never heard of either Amanda Berry or Michelle Knight while growing up; however, the name Gina DeJesus had been a recurring image during my formative years. I was eleven when the fourteen-year-old Dejesus went missing, ripped away from her friends and family in April of 2004, and was well on my way out of fifth grade and into sixth. I remember her missing persons poster taped to the walls of my middle school’s dimly lit halls, and though I didn’t know her personally, I saw kindness in her eyes and a love for laughter in her smile. She looks cool, I thought, happy.

I could never walk past her picture without giving it my attention, staring into those eyes and wondering what she was forced to see. How anyone could snatch up a child, hurt them, take them from the world they knew and offer one of darkness and evil in exchange, I will never know. But as one year morphed into the next and the number of posters and pictures became fewer, I stopped staring into those eyes. I stopped wondering. The fact that a child could be abducted ceased to shock or awe me; it is just a part of the world in which we live.

Still, every once and awhile I would see a poster stapled to a telephone pole or taped up in the entryway of a Wal-Mart, its edges tattered and yellowed, and the photograph fading from black and white to mostly white, so I could never truly forget who this Gina DeJesus girl was.

When the news broke that these three women were found at 2207 Seymour Avenue, roughly twelve blocks away from my childhood home, and the details of their time in captivity were released, I felt nine years younger. Only this time, every question I ever had was answered. Castro’s House of Horrors, now demolished, stood about a block away from the middle school I attended in sixth grade. There he tortured, raped, and brutally traumatized these women; he committed acts that are much too heinous for my eleven-year-old mind to have fathomed. But at the age of twenty, I can’t help but still see the same Gina DeJesus from that picture, with her eyes and her smile, and I am disturbed that she had to experience any of it. None of them should have.

And now he’s dead.

Sentenced to life in prison without a chance of parole, plus an additional 1,000 years, Castro could not make it more than a month before he took his own life, a decision that has left many of us balling our fists in anger. Some twitterers and online commenters consider him a coward. One specific tweet I recall claims that he took his life in order to get to hell faster. But we wanted him to experience at least a smidgen of the hell he forced upon these women, if not tenfold, not to find some cheap way out of his punishment. We wanted him to suffer. We wanted retribution.

But he robbed Berry, DeJesus, Knight, and us of that opportunity. At least that’s how I felt when I first heard the news. I’ve given it more thought since then. Considering that none of the three women have made a statement regarding Castro’s suicide, we have no idea how they are handling the news. We feel for them and want the best for them, but at the end of the day we can’t speak for them. Maybe they are as outraged as the majority is. Perhaps they are happy he is gone from this earth. We don’t know.

I’m reminded of the statement made on behalf of DeJesus during Castro’s sentencing: “Today is the last day we want to think or talk about this. These events will not own a place in our thoughts or our hearts. We will continue to live and love.” As much as we would like for the three survivors to stand up and give their opinion of Castro’s suicide, they are entitled to their silence. Moreover, they are entitled to live their life without having to comment anymore on this man, including his death.

And this is why the release of Castro’s interrogation irritates me. He’s gone, the women are free, and yet his voice is still a presence. In fact, the Los Angeles Times published an article titled “Interrogation video gives Ariel Castro a voice from beyond the grave.” We shouldn’t care about the sick details that took place, especially not from the mouth of Castro. Berry, DeJesus, Knight, their families and even Castro’s family should be able to move away from this event. We should focus on the feelings that occurred when the three women were finally found after so many years of being gone, a celebration of life and overcoming hell on earth. As for the details and specifics of what Castro has done…those should be left with him in the ground.

On Friday, September 6th, the interrogation tapes of Ariel Castro were obtained by NBC, which as of now has only been released to the public in snippets in order to protect Amanda Berry, Georgina “Gina” DeJesus, and Michelle Knight. Three days prior to the release of the video—which details the abduction and foul acts committed against these women—Castro hung himself in his prison cell. In what should have been the conclusion to a case that has been more than ten years in the making, the video still remains.

Castro was arrested four months ago, on May 6th, as televisions across Northeast Ohio flashed with the breaking news that Berry, DeJesus and Knight were finally returning home. Everything happened so fast: News media from around the nation rushed to Seymour Avenue in Cleveland, Ohio. Charles Ramsey, the man who helped Amanda Berry break free from Castro’s House of Horros, became an instant Internet celebrity and local hero for Clevelanders. Facebook and Twitter exploded with unanimous cries and a declaration that faith in humanity had finally been restored, while the entire city of Cleveland was finally able to let out a decade-long awaited sigh of relief. In a city as bleak and grey as “The 216” often is, it was nice to finally see the sun pierce through its despair and share some of its light and warmth.

And for the first time in a long time I actually wished I could be back in Cleveland, living this moment instead of trying to digest it all from behind my computer screen.

Truthfully, I had never heard of either Amanda Berry or Michelle Knight while growing up; however, the name Gina DeJesus had been a recurring image during my formative years. I was eleven when the fourteen-year-old Dejesus went missing, ripped away from her friends and family in April of 2004, and was well on my way out of fifth grade and into sixth. I remember her missing persons poster taped to the walls of my middle school’s dimly lit halls, and though I didn’t know her personally, I saw kindness in her eyes and a love for laughter in her smile. She looks cool, I thought, happy.

I could never walk past her picture without giving it my attention, staring into those eyes and wondering what she was forced to see. How anyone could snatch up a child, hurt them, take them from the world they knew and offer one of darkness and evil in exchange, I will never understand. But as one year morphed into the next and the number of posters and pictures became fewer, I stopped staring into those eyes. I stopped wondering. The fact that a child could be abducted ceased to shock or awe me; it became just another part of the world in which we live.

Still, every once and awhile I would see a poster stapled to a telephone pole or taped up in the entryway of a Wal-Mart, its edges tattered and yellowed, and the photograph fading from black and white to mostly white, so I could never truly forget who this Gina DeJesus girl was.

When the news broke that these three women were found at 2207 Seymour Avenue, roughly twelve blocks away from my childhood home, and the details of their time in captivity were released, I felt nine years younger. Only this time, every question I ever had was answered. Castro’s House of Horrors, now demolished, stood about a block away from the middle school I attended in sixth grade. There he tortured, raped, and brutally traumatized these women; he committed acts that are much too heinous for my eleven-year-old mind to have fathomed. But at the age of twenty, I can’t help but still see the same Gina DeJesus from that picture, with her eyes and her smile, and I am disturbed that she had to experience any of it. None of them should have.

And now he’s dead.

Sentenced to life in prison without a chance of parole, plus an additional 1,000 years, Castro could not make it more than a month before he took his own life, a decision that has left many of us balling our fists in anger. Some Twitter users and online commenters consider him a coward. One specific tweet I recall claims that he took his life in order to get to hell faster. But we wanted him to experience at least a smidgen of the hell he forced upon these women, if not tenfold, not to find some cheap way out of his punishment. We wanted him to suffer. We wanted retribution.

But he robbed Berry, DeJesus, Knight and us of that opportunity. At least that’s how I felt when I first heard the news. I’ve given it more thought since then. Considering that none of the three women have made a statement regarding Castro’s suicide, we have no idea how they are handling the news. We feel for them and want the best for them, but at the end of the day we can’t speak for them. Maybe they are as outraged as the majority is. Perhaps they are happy he is gone from this earth. We don’t know.

I’m reminded of the statement made on behalf of DeJesus during Castro’s sentencing: “Today is the last day we want to think or talk about this. These events will not own a place in our thoughts or our hearts. We will continue to live and love.” As much as we would like for the three survivors to stand up and give their opinion of Castro’s suicide, they are entitled to their silence. Further, they are entitled to live their life without having to comment anymore on this man, including his death.

And this is why the release of Castro’s interrogation irritates me. He’s gone, the women are free, and yet his voice is still a presence. In fact, the Los Angeles Times published an article titled “Interrogation video gives Ariel Castro a voice from beyond the grave.” We shouldn’t care about the sick details that took place, especially not from the mouth of Castro. Berry, DeJesus, Knight, their families and even Castro’s family should be able to move away from this event. We should focus on the feelings that occurred when the three women were finally found after so many years of being gone, a celebration of life and overcoming hell on earth. As for the details and specifics of what Castro has done…those should be left with him, in the ground.

—Chris Gonzalez ’15 is an English major.

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