The three women who were imprisoned for about a decade in Ariel Castro's Cleveland house, along with members of the local community, will have the lead in determining what will be built on the site after the house is demolished, says the president of the local bank that now owns the property.
“Once the house is demolished, we’re going to engage the community on what should be done, beginning with the victims,” says Gus Frangos, president of Cuyahoga Land Bank, which acquired the property last week. “We’re going to let a consensus build around what we should do.”
Demolition of the house is slated to begin Wednesday. Once that’s complete, local officials will lead the process of engaging with the community to determine what should go in its place, Mr. Frangos told the Monitor on Tuesday.
Last week one of the survivors, Michelle Knight, reportedly told the neighbor whose house the three women fled to after their escape in May that she’d like to see a park, including a statue of an angel, at the site.
Frangos says the bank hasn’t been in touch directly with Ms. Knight or the other two women, Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus, about their wishes for the property.
“We haven’t heard from the victims. We own the property now, but our task first and foremost is to remove that negative monument from the neighborhood,” he says.
There are two vacant homes next to Mr. Castro’s that could also be demolished, adding to the square footage for a potential park or monument, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
Castro’s former house at 2207 Seymour Ave. in Cleveland has been under 24-hour surveillance since the women escaped on May 6. The electricity in the house was reportedly turned off Monday, and members of Castro’s family removed some personal items from the house.
Castro was sentenced last week to life without parole, plus 1,000 years, after he pleaded guilty to 937 counts, including kidnapping, rape, and aggravated murder. A plea deal spared Castro a possible death sentence for beating and starving a pregnant Knight until she miscarried.
“We said we’ll all get out alive someday, and we did,” Knight said at Castro’s sentencing hearing last Friday.
The three women disappeared separately between 2002 and 2004, when they were 14, 16, and 20 years old. Each had accepted a ride from Castro. They escaped May 6, when Ms. Berry, now 27, broke part of a door to Castro's house and yelled to neighbors for help. Castro was arrested that evening.