The three missing women in Cleveland who were abducted a decade ago were all last seen on the same busy block in the city.
Michelle Knight, who was 20 years old when she went missing in August 2002, was last seen at a cousin’s house near West 106th Street and Lorain Avenue.
Three years later, in April 2003, Amanda Berry, disappeared after leaving her job at a Burger King – at West 110th Street and Lorain. It was the day before her 17th birthday.
A year later, Gina DeJesus, then 14 years old, was last seen leaving her middle school at West 105th Street and Lorain.
All three were found safe on Monday night after Amanda Berry bolted from a home on Seymour Avenue, about three miles from where they were last seen.
Amanda Berry told police that she and the other girls were being held prisoner by Ariel Castro, 52, who has been arrested along with his two brothers on suspicion of kidnapping.
The exact circumstances of the abductions is currently unclear, and it is not known whether or not the kidnapper deliberately targeted the block where all three victims were taken.
The story of Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus’ disappearance has been well known in the area for the past decade, as their relatives have continually held vigils and kept the story alive in the press.
Michelle Knight’s case was less high profile – police told her family that she had probably run away of her own accord after her son was taken away from her, so the search effort was less concentrated.
Amanda Berry’s mother Louwanna Miller died in March 2006 aged just 44 after the years of her daughter’s disappearance had taken a toll on her deteriorating health. Local news reports said that she “died of a broken heart”.
Amanda Berry’s sister has continued to keep the case in the public’s attention since their mother died, and she has worked closely with the DeJesus family.
Last year, Gina DeJesus’ mother Nancy Ruiz raised concerns that her daughter might have been the victim of human trafficking.
“I always said it from the beginning; she was sold to the highest bidder,” Nancy Ruiz said.
Last night Ariel Castro’s neighbor Charles Ramsey described the amazing moment he became the first person to see Amanda Berry – who gave birth in captivity – since 2003.
“I go on the porch and she said, <<Help me get out. I’ve been here a long time>>. I figure it was domestic violence dispute,” he said.
“She comes out with a little girl and says <<Call 911, my name is Amanda Berry>>.”
Charles Ramsey continued: “When she told me, it didn’t register until I got the call to 911 and I’m like, <<I’m calling 911 for Amanda Berry? I thought this girl was dead>>.”
He handed Amanda the phone, and she told police that she had been held captive in the home and to send help.
The three women were rescued and taken to an area hospital where they were receiving treatment.