Daisy Cortes remembers Ariel Castro as a good neighbor, a family friend and a talented bassist who played in a band with her former fiance.
On Tuesday, after seeing Castro's name and face in news reports identifying him as the main suspect behind the abduction and imprisonment of three young women, the Yonkers woman said she thought back to a conversation she had with Castro.
Cortes was living in Cleveland at the time and working as an anchor for a local Spanish-language television station. She said Castro showed "absolutely no emotion" when talk turned to two of the girls who went missing, before the third young girl was abducted. The conversation happened sometime in 2004.
"He was like, 'Wow, wow,'" Cortes told News12. "That was his expression . . . very cold."
Castro, 52, was arrested Monday along with his brothers, 54-year-old Pedro Castro and 50-year-old Onil Castro. The discovery prompted mixed emotions from neighbors and people in Cleveland: While the three young women were finally free and reunited with their families after a decade of imprisonment in the house, there were reports that Cleveland police paid two or more visits to Castro's house over the years after getting tips, but failed to thoroughly investigate.
Cortes said she was disturbed to learn Castro, a former school bus driver, was allegedly behind the abductions and owned the house where Amanda Marie Berry, Gergina Lynn Dejesus and Michelle Knight were held hostage.
"I can't believe that I was having someone, a predator, next to me during this time," Cortes told News12. "He would play with my hair. He'd stroke my shoulder. Not in a perverted way back then. But now, seeing the news, it makes me think he was just a pedophile."