CLEVELAND - The man accused of holding three women captive for a decade in his home terrorized the mother of his children, frequently beating her, playing twisted psychological games, and locking her indoors, her relatives say.
Several relatives of Grimilda Figueroa, who left Ariel Castro years ago and died last year after a long illness, painted a nightmarish portrait of life with Castro.
In interviews with the Associated Press, the relatives described Castro as a "monster" who abused his wife and locked his family inside their own home. Their views were at odds with those of some of Castro's family and a neighbor, who knew the former school bus driver only as a happy and respectful man.
Figueroa's relatives said Castro savagely beat her, pushing her down a flight of stairs, breaking her nose, and dislocating her shoulder, among other injuries. Her sister, Elida Caraballo, said Castro once shoved Figueroa into a cardboard box and closed the flaps over her head.
"He told her, 'You stay there until I tell you to get out,' " said Caraballo, who cried as she recounted her sister's torment. "I ran downstairs to get my parents."
Castro, to frighten his wife, kept a mannequin wearing a dark wig propped against a wall and sometimes drove around the neighborhood with it, relatives said.
"He threatened me lots of times with it," said Angel Caraballo, 26, Castro's nephew, who used to play with his cousins at the house where the kidnapped women were found. "He would say, 'Act up again, you'll be in that back room with the mannequin.' "
One day, Figueroa was returning home with her arms full of groceries when Castro jumped into the doorway with the mannequin, frightening her so badly that she fell backward and smashed her head on the pavement, Elida Caraballo said.
Castro installed padlocks on every door leading into his dilapidated home. He kept the basement bolted shut, too. When relatives showed up at his front door, he made them wait for half an hour before emerging, and nobody was ever allowed past the living room.
Prosecutors said Thursday that they may seek the death penalty against Castro as a police report alleged that he impregnated one of his captives at least five times and made her miscarry by starving her and punching her in the stomach. The police report that also said another one of the women, Amanda Berry, was forced to give birth in a kiddie pool.
Authorities said Friday that DNA tests confirmed that Castro, 52, is the father of Berry's now 6-year-old daughter, who was also rescued from his house. Officials were entering Castro's DNA profile into a national database to see if it links him to other crimes.
FBI spokeswoman Vicki Anderson said the agency has not recovered human remains in its search of the house.