With a crowd of onlookers and media present as well as kidnapping and torture victim Michelle Knight, Ariel Castro’s home on Seymour Avenue in Cleveland was demolished on Wednesday. Prior to the demolition, the now-infamous home at 2207 Seymour quietly disappeared from Google Maps.
Michelle Knight handed out yellow balloons to onlookers and released a handful of them herself as she briefly spoke to the media in support of other missing children and their parents.
Why it was important for me to be here today is because nobody was there for me when I was missing. And I want the people out there to know, including the mothers, that they can have strength, they can have hope, and their child will come back. They will. Just have the love in God and you’ll see. They will come back.
Knight, Gina DeJesus, and Amanda Berry were held captive, raped, and tortured in the home for over a decade. Castro pled guilty to the crimes and was sentenced last week to life plus 1000 years of incarceration.
As part of the plea deal that spared his life, the property will be turned over to the Cuyahoga County Land Bank. A committee will decide the fate of the property.
Cuyahoga Land Bank President Gus Frangos said two adjacent properties to the west will be torn down in the next 10 days. “The monument to hell is no more,” Frangos said. The home became an attraction after news of the captivity and rescues at the home became public, requiring 24-hour security by the city of Cleveland amid arson threats.
The crowd cheered as Peggy Arida, the aunt of victim Gina DeJesus, climbed into the seat of the giant excavator to take the first few swipes at the house.
In a little over an hour the home was reduced to rubble. Immanuel Lutheran Church sounded its church bells to mark the destruction of the home. The debris will be hauled off and shredded.
“This house represented evil incarnate, which is Ariel Castro,” said Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Tim McGinty. “Now, it is gone.”