What Happened To The Ariel Castro Kidnapping House?

In 2013, Ariel Castro of Cleveland Ohio was sentenced to life in prison plus 1,000 years for kidnapping three women and subjecting them to unspeakable abuse for a decade. Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus, and Michelle Knight were kidnapped by Castro between 2002 and 2004 and were only rescued after Berry managed to escape in 2013.

All three women were regularly chained, beaten, starved, and raped while confined in Castro's house, and during the course of their ordeal, Berry gave birth to Castro's daughter. Knight on the other hand was forced to miscarry four pregnancies by being starved, fed tainted food, and kicked in the stomach, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

The shocking case left such a black mark on the local community in Cleveland, that it was felt that something had to be done about the house Castro left behind when he was carted off to prison. On Google Maps, the house was blurred from view, and in 2013, shortly after Castro was sentenced, people came out to witness the house's destruction. The literal house of horrors had been specially modified to hide the sadistic crimes committed within.

Google blurs the house

Ariel Castro was sentenced for his crimes way back in 2013 and he died by suicide while in prison not long after. In 2022, Times Now reported that 2208 Seymour Avenue was still blurred out on Google Maps. Castro's home was specifically modified to keep the three women captive and to hide them from view. In court, the jury was shown a model of the house and told how wooden planks were used to board up windows, and bedsheets and curtains obscured rooms from view. Most of the doors had their handles removed and a porch swing was moved to block the stairway to the girls' rooms. Castro used chains to keep the women restrained and had the front door heavily alarmed. The inside of the house was described as dark and filthy.

Today, the house is no longer there, and old images of it, taken for Google Street View, cannot be seen either. According to SF Gate, it is company policy at Google that users are allowed to submit requests to obscure pictures of buildings or cars. Once a request is granted it cannot be undone.

The house is destroyed

Wary that the Arial Castro house would become a grotesque reminder of the dark kidnapping case, the building was demolished shortly after Castro was sentenced. Castro gave up the property as part of the plea deal he entered to guarantee he would not be executed. According to USA Today, the deed to the house subsequently passed to the Cuyahoga County Land Bank, and officials quickly decided that the building should be knocked down. 

Joseph Frolik from the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor's Office said, "We didn't want some kind of gruesome, macabre shrine, if you will, that would get gawkers and curiosity seekers." The house had already been subject to visitors hoping to take photos of the scene of the crime, and residents in the neighborhood expressed discomfort about the house's presence. The county also worked to acquire the deeds of the two houses next to it and demolished them too.

According to CNN, One of the kidnapped women, Michelle Knight, spoke at the demolition event, and Georgina Dejesus — the aunt of Gina Dejesus who was imprisoned by Castro — operated the excavator to strike the first blow against the building. A crowd gathered to watch the destruction and passed round yellow balloons to honor the memory of other missing children. To the annoyance of local residents, by 2018 the vacant lot became a field planted with flowers but was still a depressing place, frequently filled with trash, and subject to attention from true crime enthusiasts (via Cleveland).