Ariel Castro appeared in court Thursday morning. He looked down at the ground for nearly the entire proceeding, biting his collar and signing documents with his handcuffed hands. He didn't speak. Bond was set at $2 million on each case.
The women found alive after a decade in captivity endured lonely, dark lives inside a dingy home where they were raped and allowed outside only a handful of times in disguises while walking to a garage steps away, investigators say.
The 52-year-old former school bus driver has emerged as the lone suspect.
While many questions remain about how Castro maintained such tight control over the women for so many years before one of them made a daring escape Monday, the horrors they suffered are beginning to come to light.
Police say the women were apparently bound by ropes and chains at times and were kept in different rooms. They suffered prolonged sexual and psychological abuse and had miscarriages, according to a city official briefed on the case.
Castro has been charged with four counts of kidnapping – covering the captives and the daughter born to one of them – and three counts of rape, against all three women.
The women and Castro have given lengthy statements to police that have helped build their case, said Deputy Police Chief Ed Tomba.
None of the women, though, gave them any indication that Castro's two older brothers, who've been in custody since Monday, were involved, Tomba said. Prosecutors brought no charges against the brothers, citing a lack of evidence.
"Ariel kept everyone at a distance," Tomba said.
One thing that remains a mystery, he said, is how the women were kept in the house so long.
"As far as the circumstances inside the home and the control he may have had over those girls ... I think that's going to take us a long time to figure that out," he said.
The women, now in their 20s and 30s, vanished separately between 2002 and 2004. At the time, they were 14, 16 and 20 years old.
For much more on the Cleveland kidnapping case, including details about the women's harrowing escape, pick up this week's PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday