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Prison report says Cleveland kidnapper committed suicide

Ariel Castro appears in court for his initial appearance in Cleveland, Ohio, May 9, 2013. REUTERS/John Gress
Ariel Castro appears in court for his initial appearance in Cleveland, Ohio, May 9, 2013. REUTERS/John Gress

By Kim Palmer

CLEVELAND (Reuters) - Cleveland kidnapper Ariel Castro's death in September was a suicide, not an accident, and cannot be attributed to a failure of prison staff, according to a prison report made public on Tuesday.

The report commissioned by the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction confirmed an earlier coroner's report that Castro, who was sentenced to life in prison for holding prisoner three women for about a decade, had purposely taken his own life in his cell.

An earlier department review had suggested it was possible Castro, 53, could have died accidentally through auto-erotic asphyxiation. A subsequent review by Ohio authorities determined "all available evidence indicated that the death was a suicide," including the "careful placement" of a Bible and family pictures in his cell, the report said.

The conclusions were part of a review of both Castro's death and the suicide of Billy Slagle, days before Slagle's scheduled execution. The report's recommendations to prevent prison suicides included more rigorous staff training and enhanced mental health staff involvement with high profile inmates.

Castro had pleaded guilty in August to more than 900 counts, including kidnapping, rape and murder after three women and a six-year-old girl he fathered escaped from his home in May. Amanda Berry, 27, Gina DeJesus, 23, and Michelle Knight, 32, had been missing for up to 11 years.

Castro had been taken off suicide watch in June but was supposed to have been checked on every 30 minutes by guards.

(Reporting by Kim Palmer and Mary Wisniewski; Editing by Daniel Trotta)

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