He was sentenced to life in prison plus 1,000 years for a heinous crime, but in the end he cut that life short.
Ariel Castro, convicted of kidnapping and raping three women, as well as murder, committed suicide in his prison cell Tuesday night, the Franklin County, Ohio, coroner's office said.
The discovery of the three women who had been Castro's captives in his Cleveland home for about a decade was shocking from the outset, and surprising in its end.
Castro, 52, hanged himself with a bedsheet, Coroner Dr. Jan Gorniak told CNN on Wednesday. He was being held at the Correctional Reception Center in Orient.
Prison medical staff tried to revive him but failed.
Castro was taken to The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead at 10:52 p.m.
The Cuyahoga County prosecutor had tough words in the wake of Castro's suicide.
"These degenerate molesters are cowards," Timothy J. McGinty said. "... This man couldn't take, for even a month, a small portion of what he had dished out for more than a decade."
Castro's brother-in-law, Juan Alicea, told CNN that the family was notified by the warden about 1 a.m. The family is angry, he said, that it first learned about the death from media reports.
Alicea said that Castro's mother and sister visited him twice in prison, most recently on August 26.
During that last visit, both women said they were worried by his demeanor, mood and body language; he appeared depressed, Alicea said.
But nothing indicated that Castro was contemplating suicide, Alicea said, recounting what the women told him. In fact, he said, the final letter that Castro's mother received from the inmate was more upbeat.
Another family member, Maria Castro-Montes, said she cried when she heard the news.
Her first thoughts were with the three victims -- Michelle Knight, Georgina DeJesus and Amanda Berry -- and what they must be feeling. Would they be glad or angry about Castro's death?
The three women held captive by Castro are aware of his suicide, Knight's attorney, Kathryn Joseph, told CNN. She said the women will not be making a statement.
Castro-Montes said nearly everyone in the family had cut ties with Castro, and relatives hope that with his death, the tragic story can come to an end.
"It was just shock and part of it was even relief in hopes that now this will just end all of it and that his name will not be out in the spotlight for years and years to come," she told CNN. "I just hope the victims can move past this now."
'No one should be celebrating'
Castro was not a part of the general prison population, officials said.
"He was housed in protective custody which means he was in a cell by himself and rounds are required every 30 minutes at staggered intervals," JoEllen Smith of the corrections department told CNN in a written statement.
"A thorough review of this incident is under way," she added.
At least two investigations will be done, according to another corrections department statement.
The prison director commissioned a review team, to be made up of legal, medical, mental health, security and operational professionals not directly involved in the incident, to analyze Castro's death.
The Ohio State Highway Patrol will conduct a separate, independent investigation.
But Castro attorney Craig Weintraub said more precautions against a possible suicide should have been taken.
Castro's attorneys had requested permission for an independent forensic psychologist to evaluate their client, but were denied by officials, he said.
If Castro was believed to be suicidal, he should have been under stricter protection, he said.
Some will see his death as "a happy ending to this story, and a quick ending and justifiable," Weintraub said. "But we're in a civilized society and no one should really be celebrating this."
No place in the world
In handing down a sentence last month, Judge Michael Russo told the kidnapper there was no place in the world for his brand of criminal.
Castro pleaded guilty to 937 counts, including murder and kidnapping, in exchange for the death penalty being taken off the table.
The charges stem from his kidnapping, rape and assault of Knight, abducted in 2002; DeJesus, abducted in 2004; and Berry; abducted in 2003.
Castro is the father of Berry's 6-year-old daughter, DNA tests confirmed.
'You will die a little every day'
All three women kept diaries with Castro's permission, providing many of the details of their abuse.
"I cried every night. I was so alone. I worried what would happen to me and the other girls every day," Knight, 32, said, as she addressed her abductor head-on during his sentencing. "I will live on. You will die a little every day."
In each case, Castro lured the women into his car with the promise of a ride, according to court documents. The women and girl were freed in May after Berry shouted for help while Castro was away.
Neighbors heard her cries and came to her aid as she tried to break through a door. One neighbor gave her a cell phone to call authorities.
"Help me, I am Amanda Berry," she frantically told a 911 operator. "I've been kidnapped, and I've been missing for 10 years. And I'm here, I'm free now."
Plays the victim, blames the victims