Gina DeJesus
A police officer walks past the family home of Gina DeJesus in Cleveland, Ohio (Reuters)

Ariel Castro, one of the three brothers accused of kidnapping and imprisoning three young Cleveland women for 10 years, was a family acquaintance of one alleged victim and helped community efforts to find her.

Castro was a friend to the father of Gina DeJesus - one of the girls he allegedly kidnapped - and helped search for her after she vanished in 2004, said Khalid Samad, a friend of the family.

The 52-year-old suspect handed out fliers depicting DeJesus as the neighbourhood rallied around the 14-year-old's family. "When we went out to look for Gina, he helped pass out fliers," said Samad.

The school bus driver, who has been taken into police custody with his brothers O'Neal, 50 and Pedro, 54, reportedly also performed music at a fundraiser held in DeJesus' honour.

Castro played bass guitar in salsa and merengue bands, according to neighbours. One band member was Tito DeJesus, an uncle of Gina. They played together for more than 20 years, neighbours said.

Tito said he visited Castro's house more than once after the girls disappeared but did not notice anything out of the ordinary.

Castro's son, Anthony, 31, who wrote an article about the disappearance of DeJesus for his local newspaper in 2004, said that doors leading to the garage, basement and attic in his father's house were always padlocked.

Only a year ago Castro attended a candlelight vigil for Gina in the mostly Puerto Rican neighbourhood and comforted the girl's mother.

Castro's daughter Arlene was a friend and schoolmate of Gina as well as reportedly the last person to see her before she vanished on her way back home from school.

In 2005 Arlene was interviewed by America's Most Wanted and told of her last moments with her friend.

The two were planning to spend the afternoon at DeJesus's house but Arlene's mother, who lived in a separate house from Castro, told her to come home.

"I decided to call my mum, ask her. She [Gina] gave me 50 cents to call my mum - and she said no, I can't go over to her house," Arlene told the TV show.

Gina had no money left to catch a bus and so walked home, Arlene said, but never arrived.

Gina allegedly remained captive in Castro's house with other two victims Amanda Berry, 27, Michelle Knight, 32, until Berry's dramatic escape. A six-year-old girl, confirmed as Berry's daughter, was also found in the house.

Police are interviewing the suspects.

Accused Ariel, Onil and Pedro Castro (Reuters)
Gina Dejesus
Gina Dejesus, was missing since April 2004, when she was 14 (Reuters)