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News Wrap: Cleveland Kidnapper Ariel Castro Found Dead of Suicide in Prison

September 4, 2013 at 12:00 AM EST
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KWAME HOLMAN: The Cleveland man convicted of holding captive and raping three women over a decade was found dead in his prison cell overnight. Ariel Castro had begun serving a life sentence on August 1. Ohio prison officials said the 53-year-old hanged himself with a bed sheet. His three victims declined comment, but former neighbors said Castro avoided facing his crimes.

ROSS WALDREN, neighbor: I was just astonished. I thought he would be in prison for a long time, and then maybe someone would do an interview and find out the truth of as to why he would do something like this and carry it on for 10 years.

ANGEL ARROYO, neighbor: They made a deal so he can spend the rest of his life in jail. Maybe — he couldn’t even last 10 years, as long as he held these girls. So, I thought it was a cowardly action that he chose to end his life.

KWAME HOLMAN: Prison officials said Castro was in protective custody, but not on suicide watch. Corrections officers were to check on him every 30 minutes. The American Civil Liberties Union called for an investigation into the death.

U.S. Army Private Chelsea Manning has formally requested a presidential pardon for leaking thousands of classified documents to WikiLeaks. The soldier, formerly Bradley Manning, is serving a 35-year sentence at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. She has said she wants to live as a woman and receive hormone therapy. The pardon request was sent to President Obama through the Justice Department.

Tens of thousands of gold miners walked off the job overnight and today in South Africa. They had demanded up to a 60 percent increase in pay, but reportedly lowered it to 10 percent. That’s still more than the offer gold mining companies have made. Gold prices have fallen and South Africa has been overtaken as the number one gold producer. The country’s mining industry has been hit by sometimes violent labor strife; 46 people died last year during unrest at a major platinum mine.

Thomas Perez was sworn in today as U.S. secretary of labor. Vice President Biden presided over a ceremony at the Labor Department. Perez vowed to focus on speeding up the pace of economic recovery.

THOMAS PEREZ, U.S. Secretary of Labor: Boiled down to our essence, the Department of Labor is the department of opportunity. And as we emerge from the most — the worst recession of our lifetime, I will make it my top priority to expand opportunity in a number of different ways. And, first, we must invest in our work force.

KWAME HOLMAN: Perez previously led the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.

Automakers in the U.S. posted double-digit gains in August, their best showing in at least five years. Toyota racked up a 23 percent gain, General Motors was up 15 percent, and Ford and Chrysler sales rose 12 percent. The companies did well on both ends of their lineups, posting strong sales of pickup trucks and small cars.

The auto news helped Wall Street rally. The Dow Jones industrial average gained almost 97 points to close near 14,931. The Nasdaq rose 36 points to close at 3,649.

Those are some of the day’s major stories.