Normalcy elusive in community where women were held captive

FILE – In this May 7, 2013 file photo, members of the FBI evidence response team carry out the front screen door from the Cleveland home of Ariel Castro, where three women escaped after 10 years of captivity. Residents on the street where three women were held captive say they’re tired of being eyed by spectators who still visit the site five years after Ariel Castro’s house of horrors was demolished. It has been reported that cars and buses continue to crawl past the lot where Castro’s home once stood. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak, File)

CLEVELAND | Residents on the Cleveland street where three women were secretly held captive in Ariel Castro’s house of horrors for about a decade say they’re tired of being eyed by spectators who still visit the site five years after the home was demolished.

Cars and sometimes even buses continue to pass by the lot where Ariel Castro’s house once stood, with passengers pressing their faces against the windows and staring at the neighbors.

“It’s like being a monkey in a cage,” resident Anthony Westry told .

Castro kidnapped Michelle Knight, Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus between 2002 and 2004. Berry gave birth to Castro’s daughter in 2006.

The women escaped from the home on May 6, 2013.

Castro was sentenced to life in prison after pleading guilty to a series of charges. He later hanged himself in his prison cell.

“This is where the monster lived!” one woman wrote after posting a photo of the home online before it was razed. “Last stop before the Pro Football Hall of Fame!”

Another person posted a photo after the home was demolished in August 2013 with the caption, “Look where I was.”

City officials previously discussed turning the space into townhomes. There are no current plans for the lot, city spokesman Dan Williams said.

Justin Rose, who owns a small car lot nearby, said he would like to see a playground or a basketball hoop installed at the site. He said anything would be better than what it is right now.

Some things haven’t changed in the neighborhood, such as their weekend barbecues that Castro famously attended. However, residents keep a close eye on their daughters.

No matter what happens to the vacant lot, Westry said, his community just wants to feel normal again.

“We don’t want to be the people that people point at anymore,” he said.