Ariel Castro's house of horrors demolished in Cleveland

The Cleveland house where Ariel Castro held three women captive for 11 years was destroyed on Wednesday as onlookers cheered.

An excavator started the demolition on Seymour Avenue around 7:30 a.m. local time.

Castro, 53, a former school bus driver, was sentenced on Aug. 1 to life in prison plus 1,000 years after pleading guilty to 937 charges including rape, kidnapping and aggravated murder in connection with the abduction of Michelle Knight, Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus.

More from GlobalPost: Ariel Castro beat wife, threatened neighbors: police records

The three women were rescued on May 6 from what Knight, 32, described as "hell" at Castro's sentencing.

She arrived at Wednesday's demolition early to release a bundle of yellow balloons into the air in memory of other missing children and made a brief statement.

The house of horrors where Castro raped, beat and starved the three women, who were kidnapped at the ages of 14, 16 and 21, was demolished at no cost by two local companies that said they will be finished the job by the end of the week.

Joseph Frolik with the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor's Office said officials decided to tear down the house because "we didn't want some kind of gruesome, macabre shrine, if you will, that would get gawkers and curiosity seekers."

The deed to the house, as well as those for the two houses adjacent to Castro's, was obtained by the Cuyahoga County Land Bank last week. The other two homes are expected to come down in a month, leaving the land for a community betterment project.

Prosecutors said Castro cried when he signed over the house deed and talked about his "many happy memories" there with the three women he abducted.