Cleveland kidnapper Ariel Castro hanging dead in prison cell

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Ariel Castro, the Cleveland bus driver who kidnapped, raped and tortured three young women he held captive for almost a decade was found dead in his prison cell at the Correctional Reception Center in Orient, Ohio on Tuesday evening, according to officials.

The 53-year-old was held away from the general prison population due to the high-profile nature of his case. Guards were required to check on him every 30 minutes, but he managed to hang himself and was discovered dead during a routine check. Officials said he appears to have committed suicide, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Prison medical staffed performed CPR in an effort to save him before he was transferred to The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, a prison spokeswoman said. He was pronounced dead at 10:52 p.m.

Castro pleaded guilty to 937 counts associated with the kidnapping, rape and torture of Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight. He was sentenced on August 1 to life in prison plus 1,000 years. It is believed he pleaded guilty in a deal to avoid the death penalty.

Castro kidnapped the three women separately between 2002 and 2004. He held them captive for a decade, regularly subjecting them to torture and sexual abuse which resulted in several pregnancies that were violently terminated. Berry gave birth to a child, now 6, fathered by Castro.

The three women were rescued by neighbors on May 6.

USA Today reported that Twitter users used the hashtag #deadgiveaway in messages, tweeted in anger, as well as enthusiasm, about Castro's death.

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