OHIO - ONE of the most sensational stories in the annals of American crime history has come to an equally shocking end.
The man who kidnapped, raped, beat and starved three women he held captive for a decade apparently hanged himself in his jail cell just one month after being sentenced to life imprisonment and an extra 1,000 years in jail.
Ariel Castro, 53, had been isolated to protect him from other inmates at the Correctional Reception Centre in Orient, just south of the state capital Columbus, when prison staff found him hanged on Tuesday night.
Prison medics tried to resuscitate him, then transferred him to a hospital in Ohio State University where he was pronounced dead about 90 minutes later.
No details were immediately given on what he used to hang himself, but speculation centred on either bedding or clothing.
Castro's death brings an end to a story that horrified the world earlier this year when Ms Amanda Berry, now 27, escaped from the dungeon-like basement of his home in a ramshackle Cleveland neighbourhood where he had held her and two others for 10 years.
Police later freed Ms Gina DeJesus, 23, and Ms Michelle Knight, 32 - as well as a six-year-old daughter Ms Berry gave birth to in captivity after being raped by Castro - from the house of horrors, which has since been torn down.
The news that the three women - long thought dead - had been found alive and freed was cheered across the country. But as details of their long sordid ordeal came out, joy turned to revulsion.
Castro, a former school bus driver, pleaded guilty in July to 937 counts of kidnapping, rape, felonious assault and a charge of aggravated murder under a fetal homicide law for forcing a miscarriage of one of his three victims.
A plea deal with prosecutors spared him from a possible death penalty for murder, but on Aug 1, he was sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole, plus 1,000 years in jail.