Crews begin knocking down homes next to Castro's house of horrors

Demolition crews on Monday tore into the houses in Cleveland next door to where Ariel Castro bound, raped and tortured three women during the decade that he held them captive.

Men in hard hats watched from the sidewalk on Seymour Avenue as a backhoe did its work and splintered remains were doused by a fire hose.

Gus Frangos, president of the Cuyahoga Land Bank, told NBC affiliate WKYC in Cleveland that the demolition would go throughout the day. Published reports have suggested the lots will be turned into a park or community garden.

Castro’s house, a shabby, whitewashed, two-story structure at 2207 Seymour, was demolished Aug. 7. One of the three women who were imprisoned there, Michelle Knight, watched that day.

Days before, Castro, 53, was sentenced to life in prison without parole, plus 1,000 years. He had pleaded guilty to 937 criminal counts, including rape, kidnapping and aggravated murder.

“I am not a violent person,” Castro insisted in court. “I simply kept them there without them being able to leave.”

Knight, at the sentencing, described her time at 2207 Seymour as “11 years in hell.” Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus were the other two women held there. They were freed in May after Berry broke through a door while Castro was out of the house.