SPECIAL INVESTIGATION: EVIL pervert ARIEL CASTRO’s reign of terror began years before he kidnapped, starved, beat and raped three young women in his ramshackle house of horrors!

In a chilling twist, The ENQUIRER has learned that the sex fiend targeted his first victim 18 years ago.

She was a 15-year-old neighbor­hood girl, sources say, but when Castro began flirting with his in­tended prey, the teen’s mother confronted him.

“Her mother screamed at Castro, ‘What are you trying to do with my daughter? You’re a grown man! Leave her alone!’” said a source.

The girl rejected Castro, but she says that he continued to harass her.

“He just wouldn’t leave me alone,” the now-33-year-old woman – who begged not to be identified – told The ENQUIRER.

“About four years ago, he called me at 2 a.m. He said my dog was in his yard, and demanded that I come and get the dog right then.

“BUT my gut was telling me it was a setup. I told him to quit both­ering me, and hung up on him.

“Then I checked and saw my dog in our yard. If I had gone to his house that night, I would have dis­appeared too. I would have become the monster’s fourth victim!”

Castro is now behind bars on $8 million bail, and The ENQUIRER has gone behind the scenes to peel back the layers of his treacherous double life as a hardworking school bus driver by day and vicious sex fiend by night.

Authorities say Castro’s first vic­tim became Michelle “Shorty” Knight. In August 2002, he lured the then-21-year-old into his blue Miata near his home at 2207 Sey­mour Ave., in Cleveland, Ohio.

The monster used the same ruse to snatch Amanda “Mandy” Berry, 16, in April 2003, and Georgina “Gina” DeJesus, 14, in April 2004, sources say.

“As soon as Castro got the girls in his car, he drove straight to his house,” a police source told The ENQUIRER.

“He chained them in his 300-square-foot basement, forced them to wear dog collars, gagged them, beat them and raped them. They never had a chance to escape.

“He forced the girls to watch TV re­ports about their disappearance to torture them. It gave him a sense of power. He even took part in the searches and prayer vigils for them. Once, he ap­proached Gina’s mother to ask how she was doing.”

At times, the sick creep – who drove a bus for the Cleveland school district – tested his helpless victims, said the source. “He’d tell the girls that he was going out, but then he’d sneak back into the house,” said the source. “If he thought they’d tried to get out of their re­straints, he would beat and starve them.

“After a while, they let Castro do what­ever he wanted with them. It was their only means of survival. They were too scared to try to escape.”

To satisfy his sexual urges, Castro raped one of the girls each night while they were tied up. He forced them into perverted, violent sex acts, and threat­ened to kill their families, sources say.

Even while he raped them, the evil brute demanded that the wom­en declare: “I love you. You’re the best lover in the world,” sources say.

And his brutality showed no bounds on the five occasions Michelle got pregnant.

“Each time, he’d starve her for a couple of weeks and then punch her repeatedly in the stomach until she miscarried,” said the police source. “The unborn fetuses were flushed down the toilet.”

Castro confessed to the cops that he didn’t want Michelle to bear his child because she was short, only 4-foot-7, and he claimed she was mentally dis­abled, according to the police source.

But it was a different story with Amanda, his favorite captive. The source says when she got pregnant, the fiend wanted the child.

“Castro had Amanda deliver the baby in a child’s plastic wading pool inside the house,” said the source.

“He ordered Michelle to help with the delivery and told her, ‘If that baby dies, you die.’ The infant stopped breathing several times, but Michelle revived her with mouth-to-mouth re­suscitation.”

Castro named his daughter Jocelyn and told authorities that he had a plan for her, said the source.

“He wanted to raise her as his own personal sex slave,” said the source. “She’d replace the other girls after he killed them because they were getting too old for him.”

AFTER Jocleyn’s birth, Castro moved his cap­tives from the basement into their own bedrooms on the second floor. They were often chained and the windows were too high for them to break and jump from. If they had tried it and failed, the punishment would have been horrific.

“The house only had one bathroom downstairs,” said the source. “When Castro was gone, the women were forced to use bedpans in their rooms. When he was home, he’d let them out one at a time to use the bathroom.

“The girls were unable to commu­nicate with each other, but each one knew the others were there. If they broke any of Castro’s rules, they were starved or savagely beaten.


“They struggled to stay sane. Amanda did her best to educate her daughter and Gina taught herself how to sew and made clothing.”

During their years in captivity, the three vic­tims were allowed out of the house only twice, in the backyard, and wore wigs and sunglasses, police say.

Castro fed his helpless prisoners an unhealthy diet of mainly fast food.

“Sometimes he’d cook beans and rice or bring them leftovers from neighborhood barbecues,” said the police source. “But mostly, they just ate junk and fast food.”

Castro often went to a nearby Burger King.

“He’d order two ham, egg and cheese croissant sandwiches,” a Burger King employee, Andrea Carabello, told The ENQUIRER.

“After he ate them, he’d say, ‘Four more fresh ones.’ He al­ways flirted with me and my co-workers. He’d call us ‘my love’ and ask, ‘How are you, beauti­ful?’ ”

Neighbor Elsie Cintron add­ed: “Every morning he’d show up with his school bus and go into the house carrying bags from McDonald’s or Burger King. He’d come out minutes later without the food.”

Castro, 52, also played bass in several salsa bands over the years, and his best friend, Ricardo “Ricky” Sanchez, often dropped by his home to jam to salsa DVDs. “When I asked him if he had any girlfriends, he said, ‘I have a couple here and there, but it’s nothing serious,’ ” Sanchez recalled. “Then he just smiled.”

Although the two were friends for eight years, Sanchez said he always needed an appointment to visit.

“If I dropped by without telling him first, he wouldn’t answer the door, even when I knew he was home,” said Sanchez.

“In all that time, I only went upstairs once, and his bedroom door was the only one that was un­locked.

“THE other doors were locked and had slits cut near the bottom. I’m guessing the girls were in those rooms, and he passed food to them through the slits.”

The basement door was always locked, added Sanchez.

“Once, I heard thumping coming from the basement, but Castro said it was his dogs making noise,” San­chez said. “He had two small dogs that were usually in the backyard, and I didn’t think anything of it. Now, I know it had to be one of the girls.”

The house was a pig sty, noted Sanchez, who last visited Castro just five days before his May 6 ar­rest.

“The house was filthy – a total mess,” said San­chez.

“Boxes, junk, clothes and papers were strewn ev­erywhere. The front door opened into a living room with an old, worn-out sofa and a laptop computer hooked up to a wide-screen TV. Musical instru­ments and amps were scattered around.

“The sink was always full of dirty dishes. The place smelled of old cooking odors, urine and sweat.”

Keyboard player Tito DeJesus, who is a distant cousin of Castro’s former captive Gina DeJesus, played with the fiend in a band but visited his home only three times during their 20-year friendship.

“He got fired from his last band, Grupo Kanon, because he’d never stay overnight for out-of-town gigs and always had to get home early,” DeJesus told The ENQUIRER.

“No one could understand why, but now we do. He couldn’t leave those women alone.”

Even Castro’s relatives – who were forbidden to go upstairs or down to the basement when they visited – called the house the “prison.”

And authorities say it had been carefully sound­proofed to prevent neighbors from hearing his helpless captives’ screams.

“He used to play his music really loud,” neighbor Juan Perez, who’s known Castro for 25 years, told The ENQUIRER.

“Now I know he was using it to mask any sounds the women made. He was a good actor – very charismatic. He walked around the neighborhood with his chin high, his back straight, saying, ‘Hey, man, how you doin’?’”

Neighbor Cintron said Castro stood out in his run-down neighborhood.

“He fooled everybody because he seemed to be an upstanding citizen – a guy with a steady job, which is rare in this neighborhood,” she said.

“He was the richest guy on the street. That was his ace in the hole. No one questioned him. To everyone here, he was a friendly guy, smiling and waving.”

But Castro had been arrested on a domestic vio­lence charge in 1993, and in August 2005, he was

 ordered to stay away from his common-law wife Grimilda Figueroa after he was accused of beating her so severely that he broke her nose and ribs, dislocated both shoulders and caused a blood clot in her brain.

The beginning of the end for the monster came in No­vember when he was fired from the school district for several violations. His house fell into foreclosure and he recently received an eviction notice.

“He was desperate,” a source close to the investigation told The ENQUIRER.

“Castro told police that he’d decided that he would have to kill the girls because he had to leave the house and he had no money.

“He was so upset that his world was collapsing that he forgot to lock the front door when he left on May 6.”

When his daughter Jocelyn told her mom Amanda that Castro had really left the house and was out of sight, Amanda saw a chance to escape and took it. With the help of neighbors, Castro’s victims were res­cued by police and are now recovering with their fami­lies. But the anger against him continues to boil.

“I want to rip the guy to shreds,” said his former bandmate DeJesus. “He never shared his personal life with anyone, and now we know why. He had a lot to hide.”