A neighbor of convicted Cleveland kidnapper-rapist Ariel Castro pleaded not guilty Monday morning to charges of murder, rape and kidnapping in connection with two cold case murders.
Elias Acevedo, 49, appearing in orange jail clothes, remained mostly quiet during a brief court hearing in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court. A judge set bond for Acevedo, who is being held in the county jail, at $5 million.
Acevedo was indicted by a Cuyahoga County grand jury and charged last week with the kidnapping, rape and murder of his 30-year-old neighbor, Pamela Pemberton, found strangled in 1994, and Christina Adkins, a pregnant 18-year-old who disappeared in 1995. He also is charged with the rape of two young girls.
The indictment against Acevedo has 293 charges.
Police arrested Acevedo in June at the Seymour Avenue home of his mother, which is across the street from the now-demolished home of Castro. Police visited the home while questioning neighbors about Castro. Police discovered Acevedo was a convicted sex offender who failed to report his current address, according to a report by Reuters.
Acevedo became a suspect in the unsolved cases of Pemberton and Adkins when FBI agents re-examined missing-persons cases after Castro's arrest.
In May, Castro was arrested and charged with rape and kidnapping after Amanda Berry, who had been missing for a decade, broke free from Castro’s home on Seymour Avenue in Cleveland. When police arrived at Castro’s home, they discovered two other women, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight, who also had been missing for a decade.
Castro kidnapped the women and kept them in his home. He repeatedly raped and beat them. He also fathered Berry’s 6-year-old daughter. In August, he was convicted and sentenced to life in prison. In September, prison guards found him hanging in his cell. Investigators are looking into whether his death was a suicide or an accident while performing a sex act.