TODAY   |  September 06, 2013

Ariel Castro admits close calls in interrogation tapes

Exclusive: Three days after convicted kidnapper and rapist Ariel Castro hanged himself in his jail cell, NBC News has obtained interrogation videotapes and personal letters that provide insight into how he avoided arrest over the years and detail his long-held thoughts about suicide.

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>>> a today exclusive tied to the cleveland kidnapping case. days after ariel castro committed suicide nbc news obtained video of his fbi interrogation recorded hours after his arrest back in may. kate snow has the story. kate, good morning to you.

>> good morning, savannah. these fbi interviews obtained by nbc news from the source familiar with the criminal investigation are four hours long. at times the audio is a little unclear but in the tapes castro details how he abducted and abused michelle knight, amanda berry and gina dejesus. they're not showing him speaking about the details of his crime. nbc news reached out to the lawyers of the victims to alert them to the report this morning. details long held thoughts about suicide and provides new insight as to how he says he avoided arrest over the years.

>> from this moment on i will not let you define me or effect who i am.

>> that was michelle knight on the day her captor was sentenced to life in prison for unimaginable crimes that spanned over a decade.

>> i spent 11 years in hell and your hell is just beginning.

>> investigators never had any question about ariel castros guilt. within hours of his arrest in may he was ushered into this interrogation room and began admitting what he had done. a handcuffed castro described how he abducted and abused his victims over four hours of tape he rarely showed remorse but was tearful and also seemed surprised by what he had gotten away with describing a number of close calls over the years that easily could have lead to his arrest. there were cameras, he told investigators, that should have captured him at gina dejesus's school just 15 minutes before he abducted her.

>> so you could have broke the case right then and there because you had surveillance camera .

>> when he first kidnapped michelle knight he had a girlfriend that would visit the house and one day she noticed a tv on in the room where michelle was held.

>> i had a tv on in her room. and she said is that a tv on up there. and i thought she was probably catching on to something.

>> reporter: but no one found out his horrible secret for years. even when he said he used amanda berry's cell phone to call her mother and tell her amanda was alive.

>> what did you say to her mom.

>> i think i said something that i have her daughter and that she is okay. and that she's my wife now. something like that, you know, probably not the exact words.

>> what was her mom's response?

>> i hung up.

>> at this point, did anybody ever interview you or close related to you -- closely related to you with the disappearance of amanda ?

>> at that point.

>> no.

>> nothing lead us to talk to him, you know? there were no indications that we should go talk to him.

>> reporter: we spoke with vickie anderson of the fbi back in may.

>> we canvassed the neighborhood. we did all of those things. nothing lead us to ariel castro .

>> reporter: two hours into the interrogation, castro still handcuffed ate a slice of pizza and started to pace.

>> how can i maneuver this and manipulate this to my advantage and the wheels are turning and they keep going over and over in his head and you see that in his body movements.

>> reporter: he also talked about the day his women escaped. as his daughter begged him to stop locking all the doors and on that day in may he left a bedroom door open.

>> i let my guard down.

>> reporter: that's how amanda berry made it to the front door and yelled for attention. i've been kidnapped and i've been missing for 10 years and i'm here, i'm free now.

>> reporter: in addition, nbc news obtained two letters that castro wrote to his children around father's day while he was in jail. i still can't believe what i did to put me in the situation that i'm in now, he wrote.