Another neighbor, Israel Lugo, said he heard pounding on some of the doors of the house in November 2011. Lugo said officers knocked on the front door, but no one answered. ‘‘They walked to side of the house and then left,’’ he said.
‘‘Everyone in the neighborhood did what they had to do,’’ said Lupe Collins, who is close to relatives of the women. ‘‘The police didn’t do their job.’’
Police did go to the house twice in the past 15 years, but not in connection with the women’s disappearance, officials said.
In 2000, before the women vanished, Castro reported a fight in the street, but no arrests were made, Flask said.
In 2004, officers went to the home after child welfare officials alerted them that Castro had apparently left a child unattended on a bus, Flask said. No one answered the door, according to Flask. Ultimately, police determined there was no criminal intent on his part, he said.
Castro was arrested two days after Christmas in 1993 on a domestic-violence charge and spent three days in jail before he was released on bond. The case was presented to a grand jury, but no indictment was returned, according to court documents, which don’t detail the allegations. It’s unclear who brought the charge against Castro, who was living at the home from which the women escaped Monday.
Castro, 52, was well known in the mainly Puerto Rican neighborhood. He played bass guitar in salsa and merengue bands. He gave children rides on his motorcycle and joined others at a candlelight vigil to remember two of the missing girls, neighbors said. They also said they would sometimes see him walking a little girl to a neighborhood playground.
Tito DeJesus, an uncle of Gina DeJesus, played in bands with Castro over the last 20 years. He recalled visiting Castro’s house but never noticed anything out of the ordinary, saying it had very little furniture and was filled with musical instruments.
‘‘I had no clue, no clue whatsoever that this happened,’’ he said.
Also arrested were Castro’s brothers Pedro Castro, 54, and Onil Castro, 50. Calls to the jail went unanswered, and there was no response to interview requests sent to police, the jail and city officials.
Ariel Castro’s son, Anthony Castro, said in an interview with London’s Daily Mail newspaper that he now speaks with his father just a few times a year and seldom visited his house. He said on his last visit, two weeks ago, his father wouldn’t let him inside.
‘‘The house was always locked,’’ he said. ‘‘There were places we could never go. There were locks on the basement. Locks on the attic. Locks on the garage.’’
Anthony Castro, who lives in Columbus, also wrote an article for a community newspaper in Cleveland about the disappearance of Gina DeJesus just weeks after she went missing, when he was a college journalism student.
‘‘That I wrote about this nearly 10 years ago — to find out that it is now so close to my family — it’s unspeakable,’’ he told The Plain Dealer newspaper.
On Tuesday, a sign hung on a fence decorated with dozens of balloons outside the home of DeJesus’ parents read ‘‘Welcome Home Gina.’’ Her aunt Sandra Ruiz said her niece had an emotional reunion with family members.
‘‘Those girls, those women are so strong,’’ Ruiz said. ‘‘What we've done in 10 years is nothing compared to what those women have done in 10 years to survive.’’
Many of the women’s loved ones and friends had held out hope of seeing them again,
For years, Berry’s mother kept her room exactly as it was, said Tina Miller, a cousin. When magazines addressed to Berry arrived, they were piled in the room alongside presents for birthdays and Christmases she missed. Berry’s mother died in 2006.
Just over a month ago, Miller attended a vigil marking the 10th anniversary of Berry’s disappearance.
Over the past decade or so, investigators twice dug up backyards looking for Berry and continued to receive tips about her and DeJesus every few months, even in recent years. The disappearance of the two girls was profiled on TV’s ‘‘America’s Most Wanted’’ in 2005. Few leads ever came in about Knight.
Knight vanished at age 20 in 2002. Berry disappeared at 16 in 2003, when she called her sister to say she was getting a ride home from her job at a Burger King. About a year later, DeJesus vanished at 14 on her way home from school.
Jessica Aponce said she walked home with DeJesus the day the teenager disappeared.
‘‘She called her mom and told her mom she was on her way home and that’s the last time I seen her,’’ Aponce said. ‘‘I just can’t wait to see her. I'm just so happy she’s alive. It’s been so many years that everybody thinking she was dead.’’Continued...