AP: Cleveland house in kidnap, rape case is demolished
With several swipes from the arm of an excavator and a smattering of applause from spectators, demolition began Wednesday morning on the Cleveland house where three women were held captive and raped for a decade. The house was reduced to rubble in less than an hour and a half.
It was torn down as part of the plea deal that spared Ariel Castro a possible death sentence and forced him to turn over the deed to the house and pay for it to be razed. He was sentenced last week to life in prison plus 1,000 years.
But the question remains: How could the crimes go unnoticed so long in Castro's blue-collar neighborhood?
One of the women imprisoned there, Michelle Knight, showed up early Wednesday before the work began. She made a brief statement and released balloons into the air.
"Dear Lord, give the missing people strength and power to know that they are loved," said Knight, who had rosary beads hanging from her neck.
"We hear their cry, they are never forgotten in my heart. They are caterpillars, waiting to turn into a butterfly. They are never forgotten, they are loved."
Knight said the array of balloons "represents all the millions of children that were never found and the ones that passed away that were never heard."
There was applause as a relative of one victim represented the three and took the controls of the wrecking crane for the first smash into the top of the front wall. Later, as the house debris disappeared into the basement, church bells rang.