The annals of criminal history are writ large with ordinary streets that hide dark secrets, but even so the peculiar horror believed to have been perpetrated by Ariel Castro on Seymour Avenue in the rust-belt city of Cleveland stands out.

He stands accused of kidnapping three girls, keeping them captive for years in his suburban home and using them as sex slaves. The staggering joy at the rescue last week of Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight was tempered by the revelations of what they had endured in a busy, working-class Ohio neighborhood. No one suspected a thing.

Castro, 52, was a school bus driver, grilled ribs with his neighbors and was a friendly soul who played in a band.