COLUMBUS, Ohio - Franklin County Medical Examiner Jan Gorniak told NewsChannel5 Thursday night that she stands behind her previous ruling of Ariel Castro's manner of death as a suicide and cause of death as hanging, despite the recent reports of possible auto-erotic asphyxiation.
"I did the autopsy myself. I saw the ligature. I saw the pictures of the cell. It was a suicide," she said.
An Ohio prisons report on Castro's death suggests that Castro may have died in his prison cell attempting to choke himself for a sexual thrill, noting his pants and underwear were around his ankles when he was found.
The report also said two guards falsified logs documenting the number of times they checked on Castro before he died.
Two corrections officers at the Ohio Corrections Reception Center did not timely perform all rounds as required by post orders and falsified the post log book for their rounds, according to the 11-page document. Also, Castro's orientation was incomplete in that he was not shown the required suicide video.
According to the report , Ariel Castro complained that he was being harassed by staff and other inmates. He also complained that he thought his food was being tampered with. There were days were Castro did not eat his meals and claimed he flushed them down the toilet. Eventually he said he was having medical problems from not eating. Team members reviewed the food preparation and delivery procedures and complaints from Castro were ruled unjustified.
On Sept. 3, 2013, the day of his death, a hearing was held in the afternoon to determine whether or not he would be recommended for protective custody, which was approved by the Warden. Castro was reportedly happy because he would then be closer to his family, who had visited him twice in August at the Corrections Reception Center.
A remote eye video system installed at the Corrections Reception facility indicated that there were no rounds (inmate checks) made to Castro's cell eight times on the day of his death. The inmate post log also indicates falsified entries five times throughout the day. The last visual check prior was at 8:45 p.m.
Castro was found hanging in his cell at 9:18 p.m. during the 9:15 p.m. check time. The corrections officer went to Castro's cell and found him hanging from the prison cell windows with a bed sheet around his neck. His pants and underwear were around his ankles. The relevance of this finding is unclear. These facts, however, were relayed to the Ohio State Highway Patrol for consideration of the possibility of auto-erotic asphyxiation.
There was no suicide note found. Instead, a bible was opened to John chapters 2 and 3. He also had pictures of family out, arranged in a poster-board fashion.
The report concluded that emergency response by custody and staff was timely and appropriate.
The two correction officers who falsified the logs are currently on full administrative leave while a criminal investigation is pending.
The review findings did not lead to any known, substantiated motivation for Castro's suicide.