Ariel Castro Hit With 977-Count Indictment In Ohio Kidnapping Case

Ariel Castro, the man accused of kidnapping three women in his Cleveland home, now faces a lengthy 977-count indictment. He had already been charged in a more than 300-count indictment.

The 53-year-old is accused of kidnapping Michelle Knight, Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus and holding them hostage at his Seymour Ave. home, sometimes restrained in chains, for nearly a decade. He’s also charged with kidnapping Berry’s daughter, a 6-year-old girl Castro fathered.

Friday’s indictment covers the entire time period from August of 2002 to May of 2013, when the women escaped.

Castro will be arraigned July 17 on the new indictment.

The 977-count indictment includes charges of rape and kidnapping and two counts of aggravated murder on accusations that Castro starved and punched one of the women while she was pregnant until she miscarried.

The indictment does not include charges that could carry a death sentence, but Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Tim McGinty said he is still reserving that option.

Castro pleaded not guilty to an earlier 329-count indictment. A message was left with his attorney Friday seeking comment on the new charges.

Castro is charged with two counts of aggravated murder related to one act, saying he purposely caused the unlawful termination of the pregnancy of one of the women. The new indictment also charges him with 512 counts of kidnapping, 446 counts of rape, seven counts of gross sexual imposition, six counts of felonious assault, three counts of child endangerment and one count of possessing criminal tools.

"Today's indictment moves us closer to resolution of this gruesome case," McGinty said in a statement. "Our investigation continues, as does our preparation for trial."

News that the women had been found alive electrified the Cleveland area, where two of the victims were household names after years of searches, publicity and vigils. But elation soon turned to shock as allegations about their treatment began to emerge.

The indictment against Castro alleges he repeatedly restrained the women, sometimes chaining them to a pole in a basement, to a bedroom heater or inside a van. It says one of the women tried to escape and he assaulted her with a vacuum cord around her neck.

All three women released a video this week, thanking the public for their support.

In the new indictment, the state retains the option of adding a death penalty specification.

*CLICK HERE to read the entire indictment*

For more go to Fox 8 Cleveland.

This story contains material from The Associated Press.

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