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Ariel Castro 'A Nice Guy,' Neighbor Says

10:43 AM, May 7, 2013   |    comments
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USA TODAY

Ariel Castro, accused with his brothers of kidnapping and holding three women for a decade, is a local musician, a former school bus driver and an outgoing resident of Cleveland's Seymour Avenue.

Records show that Castro was arrested for domestic violence in 1993, but that a grand jury declined to indict him. They also show that Castro, 52, owned the home at 2207 Seymour Ave. where the women were found-- and that the house was in foreclosure because Castro owed thousands in real estate taxes.

Cleveland.com reports that Castro bought the house in 1992 for $12,000 from Edwin and Antonia Castro, but that it's not clear if Ariel Castro is related to the couple.

Juan Perez told Cleveland's NewsChannel5 that he grew up two houses down from the Seymour Ave. home and has known Castro since Perez was 5 or 6 years old.

Perez told the TV station that almost everyone on the block knew Castro.

"He was a nice guy, he would come around and say hi. He gave the kids rides up and down the street on his four-wheeler," Perez said. "He would asked me if I wanted a ride. .. He seemed like he was a good guy to the kids that were here. ... I didn't think anything of it."

Safety Director Martin Flask said Tuesday that in Jan. 2004, police went to the address after Castro reportedly left a child on a bus, but no one was home. An investigation found no criminal intent by Castro, Flask said.

Perez said Castro was not shy about attending backyard parties or barbecues. Perez also told NewsChannel5 he would see a bus parked outside of 2207 Seymour Ave., but that later on, he began to think Castro owned another property.

Perez described Castro as stopping at the home sometimes 10 minutes or an hour at a time.

"Now it's like, red flag, red flag, red flag, somebody should've said something," he said.

Perez told NewsChannel5 there's a lesson to learned.

"I'm not the only one on the block that feels ashamed to know that we didn't notice anything," Perez told the TV station. "I mean, I feel like my head's low, I work at a school, I work with kids. ... I have a heavy heart right now."

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