In My Opinion

Two words for Ariel Castro: Good riddance

 

chiaasen@MiamiHerald.com

That loud bang you heard was the gates of Hell closing behind Ariel Castro.

He hanged himself a few days ago in a prison cell in Ohio, and two official investigations have been planned. Each should take about 15 seconds.

Castro was the degenerate creep who kidnapped two teenaged girls and a young woman, chaining them for years inside his Cleveland home. Last May, one of his victims escaped and ran for help.

Over the summer Castro was sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole. He had pleaded guilty to 937 charges in order to avoid the death penalty, which he later administered to himself using a bed sheet.

It was an excellent, though overdue, decision.

Most jail suicides don’t involve serial rapist-kidnappers. Most are petty criminals with substance issues or mental-health problems that have gone untreated.

The hideous nature of Castro’s crimes makes it obvious he was a nut job, but he wasn’t one of those tragic cases who fell through the cracks of the system. He smilingly played along.

Like Ted Bundy, Castro had a diabolical talent for presenting himself as a regular, likeable guy while conducting a secret life of savage depravity. He drove a school bus, played guitar in local bands, tinkered with his beloved motorcycles.

The girls whom Castro abducted and enslaved between 2002 and 2004 were acquaintances of his own daughter, and it’s been reported that he attended community vigils for the missing. Neighbors and friends said he was always outgoing and helpful.

Nobody had a clue that his house was a padlocked horror chamber.

Three months before his arrest, Castro opened a Facebook account. According to the New York Times, he accumulated 41 “friends” and displayed an interest in an exotic breed of tiny dog known as Chinese Cresteds.

His posts gave no hint that he was a sexual psychopath.

Sample: “This morning I woke up to the sound a chirping cardinal. Yes! Come on spring!”

The Facebook Castro rhapsodized about the birth of his fifth grandchild, and “liked” several photos and messages with Christian themes. He was fond of tagging his remarks with “lol,” online shorthand for “laughing out loud.”

Not much laughter was being heard inside Castro’s house. One of the girls he’d kidnapped and continued to rape gave birth to a child, who was also held prisoner. Police say two other pregnancies ended in forced miscarriages, for which Castro was charged with aggravated murder.

At his sentencing hearing he gave various explanations for his crimes. He said he was addicted to porn. He also claimed he’d been abused as a young boy.

Then he said life really hadn’t been so awful for his captives. He asserted there was “harmony” in the house, and that the girls usually had been willing participants in the sex.

Said Castro: “People are trying to portray me as a monster, and I’m not a monster. I’m just sick.”

He might have been sick, but he was most definitely a monster. The two conditions don’t preclude one another.

After Castro’s death was announced, his lawyers called for an investigation saying he’d been depressed and exhibited suicidal tendencies — not abnormal for a 53-year-old man who just got locked up forever.

Prison officials said the guards who found Castro hanging in his cell had been checking on him every 30 minutes, which is more than he deserved.

Any person who admits to committing such heinous acts should be allowed to do away with himself. The concept of keeping him alive just to make him serve out a life sentence is a twisted paradox, like something from a Monty Python sketch or a Kurt Vonnegut novel.

Some are saying Castro’s suicide was cowardly, but his motives are irrelevant. A streak of cowardice would be the least odious of his multiple character flaws.

You can still feel sorry for his family members, who seemed genuinely anguished to learn of his dark side, but the cold truth is that it’s hard to find a downside to his final act.

Good riddance is the prevailing sentiment in Ohio and elsewhere. All of us can think of other fiends who should’ve chosen the same way out. Bundy, for example, would have saved Florida taxpayers the fortune it cost to drag him to the electric chair.

Castro’s death has spared his victims from future decades of imagining him at rest in a cell with his perverse fantasies or, worse, watching him do TV interviews to promote his latest court appeal.

Now those women have at least the beginning of an end.

Castro’s last Facebook visit, four days before he got caught, is the post of a man cheerfully pretending not to be a monster:

“Miracles really do happen. God is good. :)”

Case closed.

Read more Carl Hiaasen stories from the Miami Herald

  • In My Opinion

    First, do no harm — to your bank account

    After being sued by the Wall Street Journal, the government finally released its Medicare reimbursement data last week. It included the less-than-stunning revelation that 28 of the 100 doctors who received the largest payments in 2012 were from Florida.

  • In My Opinion

    Carl Hiaasen: The profound urgency of DCF reform

    With much chest-thumping, Gov. Rick Scott last week signed a law clipping auto-tag fees by about $25 per vehicle in Florida. He used the opportunity to blast former Gov. Charlie Crist for raising those fees five years ago.

  • In My Opinion

    How many babies must be buried?

    Most of the dead are babies and toddlers, and they perish in horrible ways — starved, punched, shaken, burned, thrown from cars or simply forgotten. There’s nothing left to protect them except the state of Florida, which fails over and over.

Miami Herald

Join the
Discussion

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category