CLEVELAND, Ohio —
Years before the women's abductions and abuse, Castro terrorized the mother of his children, beating her and locking her indoors, her relatives said in interviews Thursday with The Associated Press.
Relatives of Grimilda Figueroa, who left Castro many years ago and died after a long illness last year, described Castro as a "monster." He once shoved her into a cardboard box and closed the flaps over her head, said Elida Caraballo, her sister.
"He told her, 'You stay there until I tell you to get out,'" Caraballo said.
Monica Stephens, Castro's former daughter-in-law, who now lives in Florida, met Castro's son in 2002. They married in 2004 but split up in 2006. Stephens on Thursday recalled conversations with her ex-husband in which he said he and his mother were beaten by Castro.
"They were like hostages in their own house," she said.
A musician who often practiced at Castro's house said he was there last week and heard noises "like banging on the wall." Ricky Sanchez said he asked Castro about it and Castro blamed it on dogs. He also said Castro, a bass guitarist in merengue and salsa bands, liked to play his music loud.
On his most recent visit, Sanchez said, a little girl came out from the kitchen and stared at him but didn't say anything. He said he also noticed there were four or five locks on the outside door.
"When I was about to leave, I tried to open the door. I couldn't even, because there were so many locks in there," he said.
Dozens of area residents gathered Thursday night at a church half a block from the house where the women were found. They received briefings on ways to help the women and applauded the police for their handling of their disappearances.