How many years did Ariel Castro get? Cleveland Abduction crime drama explained

Ariel Castro
(Image credit: Getty)

True crime drama fans who were into Netflix's Tinder Swindler and the schemes of Inventing Anna or flat-sharing docu-series Worst Roomate Ever, will be gripped by the streaming service's latest offering Cleveland Abduction.

The dramatisation of the real-life Ariel Castro kidknappings focuses on the story of victim Michelle Knight who became the first of three people to be imprisoned by Castro at his home in Cleveland, Ohio.

Michelle first disappeared on 23rd August 2002 aged 21, after leaving a cousin's house - at the time she had been due to appear in court for a child custody case for her son.

The Netflix synopsis teases, “Abducted and imprisoned, Michelle Knight (played by Taryn Manning in the 2015 film) finds the will to survive amid the most horrific and heartbreaking of circumstances in this true-crime drama.”

As we look at all you need to know about the 'disturbing' crime drama...

How many years did Ariel Castro get?

Ariel Castro was sentenced to life imprisonment plus 1,000 years in prison without the chance of parole after pleading guilty to 973 counts of kidnapping and rape for victimising the three women - but just one month into his sentence he killed himself in his prison cell.

The first of the kidknappings took place in 2003 when Castro, who worked as an elementary school bus driver, approached Michelle in his vehicle and asked if she needed a ride home. At the time, she was a friend of his daughter Arlene who lived in a different neighbourhood with her mother. But he invited her home under the guise that his daughter was upstairs.

Amanda Berry was the second person to be kidknapped by Castro and Gina DeJesus, who was just 14, went missing in April 2004. She was friends with his daughter and was grabbed in a similar fashion on 2nd April, 2004 when she was 14 as she was walking home.

The three women were forced to live in squalid, filthy conditions where they were chained in their rooms, their bedrooms locked, barely fed and given buckets to use as a bathroom.

Ariel Castro

CLEVELAND, OH - MAY 9: In this handout from the Cuyahoga County Sheriff's Office, Ariel Castro, 52, is seen in a booking photo May 9, 2013 in Cleveland, Ohio. Castro is accused of kidnapping and sexually assault three women for about ten years while he held them captive in his house. (Photo by Cuyahoga County Sheriff's Office via Getty Images)
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Who did Ariel Castro have a baby with?

Ariel Castro had a baby with 17-year-old Amanda Berry who was the second person he abducted in April 2003. She went on to give birth to his child while still imprisoned. Amanda and Ariel's daughter is thought to be aged 15 now and in an interview with Good Morning America ahead of a sit-down interview with them in 2020, Amanda revealed Ariel "never" laid a hand on their daughter. She explained, "I mean she loved him and he loved her. Would he touch her? Would he ever think about touching her because she had his problems? But ultimately, he never did anything, he never laid a hand on Jocelyn."

She added that Jocelyn - who was instrumental in their escape - was at the time of her interview, a happy and vivacious middle-school student.

Castro also had a daughter Arlene with his first wife Grimilda Figueroa. He also has a daughter Angie Gregg and Emily Castro plus a son called Anthony Castro.

You can watch Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus interview with BBC Newsnight below...

How old was Amanda Berry when she had her daughter?

Amanda Berry was aged 20 when she became pregnant and gave birth to her daughter Jocelyn on Christmas 2006.

Speaking out about her harrowing ordeal, Amanda recalled, "He took me to the next bedroom, and it was just really dark in there, and he didn't turn on the lights, and there was a little, like, a little room off of the bigger bedroom, kind of a big closet.

"And he took me in there, and he told me to pull down my pants. And from there I knew, like, this was not going to be good."

It's reported that Castro chained her to a pole and left her in a dark room with a television on.

"I just started screaming and crying… 'Somebody please help me,' you know. And nobody, nobody came. I was so scared that I was going to die. I didn't think that I was going to ever make it home."

A week after Amanda went missing Castro taunted her family by calling them from her cell phone. Her sister Beth Serrano said, "He called and said, 'I have Mandy,'which, nobody called her Mandy but [people] who knew her. She wants to be with me."

From the call the FBI were able to narrow down the phone's location to a thirty to forty block area but despite exhaustive search measures, were unable to find Berry.

Meanwhile Gina DeJesus was grabbed in a similar fashion on 2nd April, 2004 when she was 14 as she was walking home. Gina was good friends with Castro's daughter Arlene.

You can watch the trailer below...

Was Michelle Knight reunited with her son?

Michelle Knight has not been reunited with her son Joey as she is believed to have no contact with him. During her imprisonment Michelle's son was adopted out to another family, as her own relatives made little attempts to search for her.

Speaking on Good Morning Britain back in 2020 she admitted, "Unfortunately some of that did not happen because my family made the choice a long time ago for me not to see them.

"For my son, I pray and hope that I get to see him soon," before adding that she 'really did' believe that meeting would happen.

She also confessed that thinking of being reunited with her son helped her through her darkest days. "It definitely got me through all those years,' she said. "If it wasn’t for my son being out there and hoping to come back to him, I don't know what I would've done."

In 2014 Michelle insisted she understood the decision of her son's new family not to share the identity of his birth mother with the teenager. She told the Today show that she has photographs of her youngster that his adoptive relatives had shared with her, and that she was happy to see all that he had accomplished.

One viewer wrote, "Cleveland Abduction is one of the most disturbing things I’ve ever watched. There’s some sick freaks in this world"

How many years was Amanda Berry held captive?

Amanda Berry was held captive by Ariel Castro for almost a decade in Castro's home in Cleveland along with Gina DeJesus, 29, and Michelle Knight, 29. The victims were eventually rescued and Castro arrested after Jocelyn noticed that the kidnapper and rapist had left the home where he was holding the women. At the time Jocelyn told her mum that he was nowhere to be found and the two made their escape by contacting a neighbour who called 911.

Amanda and the two other victims were abducted between 2002 to 2004, and spent nearly a decade locked inside his home where they were beaten and raped before their miraculous escape in 2013.

Ariel Castro house

CLEVELAND, OH, - MAY 07: A general view of the exterior of the house where, on Monday, three women who had disappeared as teenagers approximately ten years ago were found alive on May 7, 2013 in Cleveland, Ohio. Amanda Berry, who went missing in 2003, Gina DeJesus, who went missing in 2004, and Michele Knight, who went missing in 2002, were all found alive in the same house. Three suspects, all brothers, have been taken into custody. (Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)

What's Amanda Berry doing now?

Amanda Berry is now a regular on the Ohio TV station, Fox 8 on a segment about missing people where she helps to find missing children. She escaped captivity back in 2013 after 10 years held holed up in a bedroom tied to a radiator with a 5ft chain. At the time of her abduction she was offered a ride home from her job at Burger King.

If you're looking for another crime drama check out the Lincoln Lawyer on Netflix.

Cleveland Abduction is not available on the UK version of Netflix yet. You can watch Cleveland Abduction in the UK on Chili, on Microsoft or on Sky Store.

Selina Maycock
Senior Family Writer

Selina is a Senior Family Writer for GoodtoKnow and has more than 16 years years of experience. She specialises in royal family news, including the latest activities of Prince George, Charlotte, Louis, Archie and Lilibet. She also covers the latest government, health and charity advice for families. Selina graduated from the University of Sheffield in 2006 with a degree in Journalism, and gained her NCTJ and NCE qualifications. During her career, she’s also written for Woman, Woman's Own, Woman&Home, and Woman's Weekly as well as Heat magazine, Bang Showbiz - and the Scunthorpe Telegraph. When she's not covering family news, you can find her exploring new countryside walking routes, catching up with friends over good food, or making memories (including award-winning scarecrows!)