CLEVELAND—A cousin of the trio of brothers believed to have held three young women captive for a decade said her family is “shocked” by the allegations and wants no contact with the men.
Maria Montes, a cousin of Ariel, Pedro and Onil Castro, spoke to reporters Wednesday morning near the dilapidated home Ariel Castro owned and where the women are believed to have been held as prisoners.
The brothers are in custody and face arraignment on charges connected to the kidnapping of Amanda Berry, 27, Gina DeJesus, 23, and Michelle Knight, 32. Berry managed to escape the house Monday evening and summon police, leading to the men’s arrest.
"It's shocked everyone in my family," Montes said, adding the family is struggling with the allegations against her cousins.
Montes’ father, the Castro brothers’ uncle, owns a business just down Seymour Avenue in the city’s West Side neighborhood where Ariel Castro lived.
Ariel Castro, Montes said, seemed like a "normal man, a loving father, a loving grandfather. ... But obviously these allegations came from somewhere," she said. "If he did this, he will pay."
She said the family didn't suspect anything was amiss. "No one in this family would've kept this under wraps or secret," Montes said.
Asked if she or anyone in her family had spoken to Ariel Castro or his brothers since the arrest, Montes said they had not and did not want to.
"We have no wish to talk to him," Montes said. "We totally support and love these three girls … these three men do not define this family and who we are.”
Montes said she had not seen Ariel Castro since last November at a funeral for a family member.
"From one family to another family, we feel your pain," Montes said. "I feel what their families live through. ... Their families have lost their daughters for so long.
"To the girls—Amanda, Michelle and Gina—we are horribly sorry for what you went through."