The Cleveland house that “represented evil incarnate,” as one prosecutor said – the site where Ariel Castro sexually abused, beat and tortured three women for a decade – was demolished Wednesday.
It took less than 90 minutes to turn Castro’s Seymour Avenue home into a heap of debris. Castro forfeited the house as part of a plea agreement that will keep him in prison for the rest of his life but spared him the death penalty.
As an excavator bit into the area known as the pink room on the house’s upper floor church bells sounded through the working-class neighborhood and a crowd gathered to watch the demolition cheered.
One of the first blows was delivered by Peggy Arida, the aunt of one of the victims, Gina DeJesus. DeJesus, along with Amanda Berry and Michelle Knight, were kidnapped and held prisoner in the house where they were repeatedly raped, chained to poles in the basement and abused by Castro.
Knight appeared at the house just before the demolition began and handed out yellow balloons, one of the symbols of the three women’s escape and return to freedom. “I feel very liberated and went to thank everyone for their help during the difficult return from captivity,” she said.
“This house represented evil incarnate, which is Ariel Castro,” Cuyahoga County prosecutor Tim McGinty told reporters. “Now, it is gone.”