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Cleveland house where three women were held set for demolition

Michelle Knight (2nd from left) reads statements while supported by her attorney (L) and friend as her accused assailant Ariel Castro (R) si
Michelle Knight (2nd from left) reads statements while supported by her attorney (L) and friend as her accused assailant Ariel Castro (R) si

By Kim Palmer

CLEVELAND (Reuters) - Workers on Tuesday conducted a final inspection of the rundown Cleveland house where three young women were imprisoned and tortured for roughly a decade, in preparation for its demolition.

The razing, scheduled for Wednesday, comes less than a week after Ariel Castro was sentenced to life in prison without parole, plus 1,000 years, for holding Michelle Knight, Gina DeJesus and Amanda Berry captive in his home on Cleveland's west side.

A steady stream of on-lookers drove by the house before Cleveland police blocked off the street to traffic.

County engineers cut off electricity to the house on Monday, ahead of the demolition. Castro's family members, including his son, Anthony Castro, went to the house, also on Monday, to retrieve personal items.

Ariel Castro, 53, signed the deed to the three-story house over to Cuyahoga County when he pleaded guilty to 937 charges, including aggravated murder for causing Knight to miscarry by beating and starving her.

Knight, 32, read a statement at Castro's sentencing, saying: "I spent 11 years of hell. Now your hell is just beginning."

Berry, 27, DeJesus, 23, and Knight went missing from the west side of Cleveland between 2002 and 2004.

They were rescued, along with Berry's 6-year-old-daughter by Castro, on May 6 after neighbors heard Berry's cries and helped her break through the house's front door.

Police found more than $22,000 in a washing machine in the basement. The money will help pay for the demolition.

Cleveland Councilman Brian Cummins, who represents the ward where the house is located, said his office is working on foreclosing on two adjacent, abandoned properties. Cummins said survivors and neighbors will help decide what to do with the properties.

(Reporting by Kim Palmer; Editing by Mary Wisniewski, Ellen Wulfhorst and Steve Orlofsky)

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