It was hard to believe that kidnapper Ariel Castro’s family wasn’t aware of his horrendous crimes, but today Pedro Castro, 54, and Onil Castro, 50, let the media know once and for all:
They knew nothing about Ariel keeping Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus, and Michelle Williams captive for 10 years.
It’s a welcome relief for the rest of the Castro family, but a definitive moment in the case against Ariel, as authorities come to the realization that he was able to pull off these horrific crimes by himself.
And today, during an exclusive CNN interview, we found out how little the Castro brothers actually knew.
Here are 16 things you need to know about their involvement, or lack thereof, that may once and for all clear their names in the Cleveland kidnapping case.
1. How Onil Was Arrested
Onil first suspected something was wrong when he was riding with Ariel after dinner at their mother’s house. A police cruiser pulled the car over and Ariel turned into a McDonald’s parking lot.
“I said, ‘What did you do, run a stop sign or a red light or something?'” he said. “He says, ‘No, no. I don’t know.'” When Onil asked the police officer about why they were pulled over, he said, “All I can tell you is that you’re in for some serious allegations.”
2. How Pedro Was Arrested
Pedro was asleep at his home when police woke him up to arrest him. He was not with the brothers or at Ariel’s house, as some originally thought.
“I was thinking because I had an open container warrant,” he said. “So, I didn’t, I didn’t know what — I thought they was taking me in because of that.”
3. How Pedro Found Out About His Brother’s Crimes
An officer wrote the reason for his arrest on a piece of paper. Pedro, who didn’t have his reading glasses, assumed that it said “open containers.”
She said ‘No, read it again.’ And I said ‘Oh! Kidnapping! What’s this? Kidnapping?'” he said. “I’m thinking kidnapping. Who did I kidnap?”
4. The Last Fist Bump
As all brothers were in separate cells, Onil didn’t find out about Ariel’s crimes for 36 hours. The last time he spoke to his brother, Ariel was walking by his cell. According to the interview:
“When he walked past me, he goes, ‘Onil, you’re never going to see me again. I love you bro.’ And that was it,” he said. “And he put his fist up for a bump.”
Ariel spoke again as Onil was on his way to be questioned by a detective, he said.
“He goes ‘Onil, I’m sorry. You didn’t know nothing about this, Onil. I’m sorry, Onil.’ And that was it. And then that’s when I broke down on my way over there. I said, ‘What did my brother do? What did he do?'”
5. Pedro Pleads His Innocence
“I had nothing to do with this, and I don’t know how my brother got away with it for so many years.”
6. How Onil Really Feels About His Brother
“Monster, hateful, I hope he rots in that jail. I don’t even want them to take his life like that I want him to suffer in that jail”
7. And Pedro?
“I feel the same way.”
8. Onil On Ariel Getting Caught
“The monster is a goner, I’m glad that he left the door unlocked, maybe he wanted to get caught. Maybe time was up. Maybe he was inside too much; he wanted to get caught. But if he did it that way, he shouldn’t of went to mama’s house and picked me up and put me in a car, if he knows that was going to happen.”
9. The Castro Brothers Had Never Seen The Kidnapped Girls
When detectives showed both Pedro and Onil photographs of Berry, DeJesus and Knight, they were at a loss. According to Onil:
“He says ‘Have you ever seen this girl?’ and I said ‘No, I’ve never seen that girl.’ And then he showed me the other one. ‘Have you ever seen this girl?’ and I said ‘No, I’ve never seen that girl.’ And he says ‘That’s Gina DeJesus and Amanda Berry,’ and my heart fell. I just dropped, not physically, but I just, I just hit the ground.”
He added that they didn’t look like the girls who had went missing because of how malnourished they were.
10. The Castro Brothers Were Never Allowed Past Ariel’s Kitchen
For 10 years, both Pedro and Onil ever went past Ariel’s kitchen. In fact, they didn’t visit the house much at all.
“I didn’t go to his house very much, but when I did, he would let me in not past the kitchen,” Pedro said.
He added that Ariel would cook for him sometimes, “but I would eat out on the steps,” he said.
11. Onil and Pedro Thought Ariel Boarded and Covered The House To Save Energy
Curtains are said to have blocked the kitchen from the rest of the house, and Ariel explained to his brothers that he did this as an energy-saving setup.
“He said he wanted to keep the heat in the kitchen because the gas bill,” Pedro said.
12. Onil and Pedro Didn’t Think Ariel “Strange” Because He Was Always a Little “Off”
Onil told CNN that Ariel usually stayed to himself and Pedro says that his brother often did strange things.
“He was a strange dude,” he said. I mean, it didn’t faze me none because when he said keep the heat because he gets cold real quickly. He’s always wearing a lot of coats and stuff, so I figured well, he wants to keep the heat in.”
“He always stayed to himself with his music,” he said. “And like I said, there would be times when we wouldn’t see him for a month, two weeks. Mama use to say ‘Check your brother, check on your brother. He lives alone in that house. He’s a loner. You don’t know if he’s OK or what’s going on.’ So I would text him and he would text me back. What are you doing?’ ‘I’m fine,'” Onil said.
13. The Castro Brothers Know Gina DeJesus’ Father
Pedro and Onil, astonished about their brother’s secrets, told CNN that it hurts the most because they had been long-time friends with Gina DeJesus’ father.
“I would ask him, ‘Felix, no sign of her yet, no sign of her yet? — not knowing that this monster had these young women in his house,” Onil said.
“I would shake his hand and tell him ‘Man, I’m sorry. Have you heard anything?’ and ‘Let’s just hang in there, brother,'” Pedro said.
Pedro also added:
“When I found out that Ariel had Gina I just broke down, because it’s shocking…you got his daughter?! And you go around like it’s nothing, you even went to the vigils, you had posters, you give her mama a hug and you got his daughter captive?”
14. What the Castro Brothers Would Have Done, Had They Known
“I would have went straight to the police if I seen anything,” Onil said. “If I seen a curtain move or if I heard anything because there’s nobody there inside that house. Why do, why am I seeing this? Who is that? I would have said something.”
“If I knew, I would have reported it,” Pedro said. “Brother or no brother.”
“Yes, I would have grabbed him by my neck myself,” Onil said.
15. What Pedro Would Tell The Women If He Could Talk To Them
“I would tell them that I’m sorry that you had to go through this, I was thinking about these girls missing and I’m just grateful that they’re home and out of that horrible house. I would just tell them that I’m sorry for what Ariel has done.”
He also added that he doesn’t want to be “hunted down like a dog for a crime” he didn’t commit.
16. How Onil Is Coping
“I hope he rots in that jail,” he said. “I don’t even want them to take his life like that. I want him to suffer in that jail to the last extent. I don’t care if they even feed him. What he has done to my life and my family’s.”
Onil also added that the reality of the situation breaks his heart.
“This has torn my heart apart. This has killed me. I am a walking corpse right now.”
Currently, they are at an undisclosed location and are still receiving death threats from a public that thinks they were involved.
But now that they’ve had a chance to tell their story, do you think the public will believe them?