Last month, Ariel Castro.. that a-hole who kidnapped the three women in Cleveland.. was found dead, hanging in his prison cell.

Everyone immediately assumed it was a suicide, because this guy's the exact kind of coward who would rather kill himself than face the justice he deserved.  Or, you know, face getting beaten to death the second he was around other inmates.

Well.. according to new reports that sound suspicious but come from the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections, it's possible that Castro DIDN'T hang himself to kill himself.

He may've hung himself during autoerotic asphyxiation.  (If you don't know, that's where you cut off your air supply while you pleasure yourself.)

The report says that when guards found him hanging, his pants and underwear were pulled down to his ankles.  Also, he didn't leave a suicide note, and his psych profile didn't show ANY tendency toward suicide.

The official coroner's report is still pending.  Click here for the full story.