Home Tags Posts tagged with "cleveland"
Michelle Knight’s son was likely 2-year-old when she disappeared in Cleveland 12 years ago.
Michelle Knight remembers the day her role as a mother possibly took an irreversible turn on Dr. Phil.
“My mother’s boyfriend came home one day high and drunk and just decided to take out his frustrations on my son. How did he do it?
Michelle Knight will release her memoir on May 6
“He twisted my son’s leg, and I heard it crack,” she said.
Michelle Knight’s son entered into foster care.
“And then they tried to say I didn’t protect him, but I did. I did all I could do,” she recalled.
Betsie Norris from Adoption Network Cleveland told US Today that, by law the county, is required to come up with a plan to reunite a mother and child, which takes about a year.
“They’ll work a reunification plan with the birth family hoping they can rectify whatever the circumstances were that brought the child into care, so that the child can go safely home,” she said.
Michelle Knight was likely going through that phase when Ariel Castro abducted her from a Family Dollar in Cleveland.
At that time, no one knew why Michelle Knight disappeared. It could have looked like she abandoned her son. In cases when the mother isn’t reachable for long periods of time, the county moves for permanent custody.
“The court weighs all the different factors, evidence, and, if they feel it’s warranted, then they move forward to terminate parental rights, which then means the child is available for adoption,” said Betsie Norris.
By law, Michelle Knight can be told whether her son is still in foster care or has been adopted. If he’s been adopted, all that information is sealed and after a year, a probate judge says it is extremely difficult to reverse.
[youtube JhfQa_92XdE 650]
Gina DeJesus, the youngest of the three girls held captive in Cleveland by Ariel Castro, wants to go to the Prom and Valentine’s Dance that she missed out on when she was snatched off the street to be raped and chained up for more than a decade.
A close family friend said Gina DeJesus still views the world through the eyes of a 14-year-old and is determined to recreate some of the biggest events that other, normal teenagers enjoyed.
Meanwhile new details have emerged about her captivity and how alleged kidnapper Ariel Castro covered her head every time he allegedly raped her.
This was because Gina DeJesus was so young and was the best friend of Ariel Castro’s daughter when he allegedly snatched her off the street, according to the close family friend.
Ariel Castro knew Gina DeJesus’ family well and he felt “bothered” by her face but did not do the same to his other alleged victims, Michelle Knight and Amanda Berry.
The sickening revelation gives a new insight into the challenges that Gina DeJesus and the other girls face on their long road to recovery.
Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight – who was taken in by Gina’s family – are healing by having gone on a week long holiday to Puerto Rico, where the DeJesus’ are from.
Meanwhile, Amanda Berry has been relying on the support of friends but has endured fresh heartache upon learning her father John, who lives in Tennessee, is not well.
Gina DeJesus was only 14 when she vanished, Amanda Berry was 16 and Michelle Knight was 21.
They are now 23, 27 and 32 respectively.
Police have said Ariel Castro starved them and got Michelle Knight pregnant at least five times before punching her stomach until she miscarried.
He also fathered a child with Amanda Berry, a girl who is now six, and brainwashed them by pretending to leave the house and battering them if they tried to escape.
A family friend said: “Gina still has a lot of growing up to do.
“She has never grown up mentally, she’s still a 14-year-old little girl.
“She was pulled away at that time. She never got a chance to go to the dances or the games or prom or the things that kids do. All the kids want the same thing, they missed out on anything.
“They never got a chance. Sweetest day, Valentine’s Day parties at school, homecomings.
“Amanda did all hers. Michelle was special needs so she didn’t get involved too much. Gina was only 14, she turned 14 the week before she went missing. She’s missed out.
“She has a look of… of a blank, a blankness to her eyes. She’s not really there, emotionally she’s not there.”
Gina DeJesus wants to go to the Prom and Valentine’s Dance that she missed out on when she was snatched off the street
Another problem that Gina DeJesus faces is that her neck is “fused” because she was held in chains at an awkward angle for months on end as her bones developed.
This has given her restricted movement and doctors are now thought to be trying to rectify it, though the process will be hard to reverse.
One of the biggest challenges facing all three victims and their families as they readjust – especially Gina – is that they are no longer girls; they are grown women.
Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight spend their days with family and going to the park but they have to be supervised at all times, reflecting the strange limbo they inhabit between independence and a childlike reliance on their family, according to the family friend.
An added pain is that Ariel Castro knew the DeJesus family well before he allegedly kidnapped Gina and even turned up on rallies to help find her, handing out fliers and comforting her father.
Ariel Castro’s daughter Arlene, 22, was one of her best friends and one of the last people to see her alive when she vanished whilst walking home from school in 2004.
According to Ariel Castro’s son Anthony, he chose Gina DeJesus as a victim because of her friendship with Arlene.
All this would apparently weigh on Ariel Castro’s mind when he was allegedly raping Gina DeJesus.
The family friend said: “Gina told her family that when Castro would have s** with her he would cover up her face.
“Because they were friends, with the family. He was friends with her family when she went missing. It bothered him, and she was so young.
“He’s a liar. You’re friends with the family and you can’t she was 14 when she went to school with your daughter? Come on. Best friends with your daughter and you don’t know.
“It was just her he covered up her face. He knew what he was doing.”
The psychological scars will no doubt run deep for all three girls.
The family friend said: “I know that somewhere deep in Gina’s heart in all these year they trusted this man to take care of them.
“They became accustomed to having him around and they miss him. I’m hoping it’s not that way but that’s not normally the case when they’ve been gone this long.
“With Michelle and Amanda I can’t say as much as there. With Gina, that’s all she knows. Think about it, that’s all she knows. In a way I hope she never gets into a relationship at all.
“I hope that it didn’t affect her so she gets in an abusive relationship.
“Mentally Georgina is fine but she will never get over this. It’s always going to be in the back of her mind.”
Since the girls emerged from Ariel Castro’s house on May 6, the effect on their families has been extraordinary.
Gin DeJesus’ mother Nancy Ruiz looks younger than before when she was weighed down with worry for her daughter. She is also eating again, something she stopped doing regularly before.
Her father Felix DeJesus is returning to his old self too, much to the delight of his family.
The process with Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight however will take a lot longer.
The family friend said: “The family doesn’t ask them absolutely any questions. When the girls want to talk they talk. They don’t bother the girls with what happened.
“They don’t ask the girls nothing. The girls don’t talk about what happened and they don’t question the girls about what happened.
“It will come out when they are ready about what happened in that house. Even in the police department…it was ten years for four hours of an interview.
“You can’t bring up ten years of what happened to you. You can almost remember every day of the beatings, every day of whatever.”
On Tuesday the three kidnap victims released a video to thank everyone who supported them. It marked the first on-camera appearance since they were rescued from the clutches of Ariel Castro.
Gina DeJesus speaks only one line in the video. When asked by a man behind the camera what she would like to say to the people who contributed to the Cleveland Courage fund, she responds: “I would say thank you for the support.”
Her mother and father then speak on her behalf through the rest.
Ariel Castro, 52, a former school bus driver, has pleaded not guilty to a 329-count indictment ahead of his trial which is due to start at the beginning of next month.
He is also charged with aggravated murder of a fetus for his treatment of Michelle Knight, for which he could face the death penalty.
A family friend of one of the Cleveland victims has revealed that Michelle Knight, the first of three women to be kidnapped off the street who suffered more than a decade of abuse in Ariel Castro’s house of horrors, was subjected to numerous beatings and treated like “a punching bag”.
Michelle Knight, now 32, vanished in August 2002, and was not seen again until earlier this month when she emerged from a dilapidated house on Seymour Avenue with Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus.
The owner of the home, 52-year-old Ariel Castro, faces kidnapping and rape charges. He is accused of chaining up all three women in the home and raping them.
A family friend of one of the victims told CNN that Michelle Knight was often hit with hand weights and other objects and treated like a “punching bag” for 11 years.
Her relatives say that she is deaf in one ear, and may need facial reconstruction surgery. She was released from a hospital on Friday.
Michelle Knight was often hit with hand weights and other objects and treated like a “punching bag” for 11 years
Michelle Knight stayed in the hospital for several days after the other two women left.
She told CNN in a statement: “I am healthy, happy and safe and will reach out to family, friends and supporters in good time.”
Michelle Knight told police that her alleged captor repeatedly raped her and caused her to miscarry at least five times over the years by starving her and punching her in the stomach.
Police sources told the National Enquirer that Ariel Castro had no interest in having children with Michelle Knight, because she was only 4-foot-7 and he believed her to be “mentally disabled”.
The magazine’s source added that Ariel Castro was grooming his 6-year-old daughter with Amanda, Jocelyn, as another sex slave because the other captives “were getting to old for him”.
Police had not been looking for Michelle Knight when she was found in Ariel Castro’s house.
Michelle Knight disappeared in 2002 at age 21. Her mother concluded she might have run away from home because she was angry about the state taking away her child.
Police dropped the case when they couldn’t reach her mother.
Ariel Castro, the man suspected of imprisoning three women for several years in Cleveland, is due to make his first court appearance.
Ariel Castro, 52, has been charged with kidnap and rape.
The women were abducted at different times and held in a house in a suburban street for about a decade. One woman escaped on Monday and raised the alarm.
The police detained two of Ariel Castro’s brothers, but later said they appeared to have no involvement in the crime.
Ariel Castro owned the house from which Amanda Berry, 27, Gina DeJesus, 23, and Michelle Knight, 32, were rescued.
Police said the women could only remember being outside twice during their time in captivity, and were then only allowed into the garage.
Deputy police chief Ed Tomba said the women were not held in one room “but they did know each other and they did know each other was there”.
Ariel Castro, the man suspected of imprisoning three women for several years in Cleveland, is due to make his first court appearance
Amanda Berry escaped on Monday along with her six-year-old daughter Jocelyn, who was born in captivity.
According to a source close to the investigation, one of the women was forced to help Amanda Berry deliver her daughter, and was threatened with death if the child did not survive.
In a news conference late on Wednesday, authorities said Ariel Castro would be charged with four counts of kidnapping.
The charges covered the three initial abduction victims and Jocelyn.
Ariel Castro was also charged with three counts of rape, one against each woman.
Police said more than 200 pieces of evidence had been taken from the home where the three women were held captive.
They said interviews with the women had yielded enough information to charge Ariel Castro, and that further charges could be added.
Police say Ariel Castro has been co-operating with them, waiving his right to silence and agreeing to a test to establish Jocelyn’s paternity.
Michelle Knight remains in hospital, while the other two women have been released to their families.
On Wednesday hundreds of people gathered around the DeJesus family home, cheering as Gina DeJesus was brought from hospital.
Gina DeJesus, wearing a bright yellow hooded shirt, was escorted into her home by a woman with her arm around her, giving the well-wishers a brief wave.
Amanda Berry and her daughter arrived at her sister’s home shortly before midday on Wednesday.
She disappeared in 2003 aged 16, but escaped on Monday with the help of a neighbor who heard her screaming and kicking a door while her alleged captor was out of the house.
When police arrived, they also found Gina DeJesus and Amanda Knight in the house.
Gina DeJesus had gone missing aged 14 in 2004, while Michelle Knight had disappeared in 2002, aged 20.
Ariel Castro reportedly fled the neighborhood and was arrested at a nearby McDonald’s restaurant, according to local media.
McDonald’s have reached out to Charles Ramsey, the man being dubbed a hero and a legend in Cleveland and told him they will be in touch as yet another hilarious interview with Ariel Castro’s neighbor hits the internet.
Charles Ramsey, who is responsible for freeing Amanda Berry and two other women who were being held captive at his neighbor’s home, joined CNN’s Anderson Cooper to re-tell the events of the heroic evening which led to the freedom of Amanda Berry, Michelle Knight and Gina DeJesus.
In a lengthy and animated interview with Anderson Cooper, Charles Ramsey describes the moment he heard Amanda Berry screaming from his neighbor’s home, the dramatic moment he kicked the door in to rescue her and the 911 call he made to the “moron” dispatcher, all while holding his half-eaten Big Mac.
When Anderson Cooper asked him what neighbor Ariel Castro was like, Charles Ramsey said: “He was cool, he wasn’t no freak of nature, he was like me and you. He talked about the same things me and you do bro.”
Charles Ramsey revealed that he actually spoke to Ariel Castro earlier that day because the mail man had put his mail into Ramsey’s mailbox. He said that Ariel Castro drove off and he cycled to McDonald’s.
Charles Ramsey, who is a dishwasher, brushed off his hero status, telling Anderson Cooper that he just had to “do the right thing”, adding: “Bro, I’m a Christian, an American, and just like you. We bleed the same blood, put our pants on the same way.
Charles Ramsey joined CNN’s Anderson Cooper to re-tell the events of the heroic evening which led to the freedom of Amanda Berry, Michelle Knight and Gina DeJesus
“It’s just that you got to put that – being a coward, and I don’t want to get in nobody’s business. You got to put that away for a minute.”
He also revealed he is traumatized and has had trouble sleeping after learning what was taking place right next door to him.
“Up until yesterday, the only thing that kept me from losing sleep was lack of money. You know what I’m saying? But now that that’s going on and I think I could have done this last year…”
He also says that any reward money should not be given to him, but to the three women who had lost so many years of their lives being held captive.
“I tell you what you do, give it to them… you know I got a job anyway” he said before pulling out his paycheck that he just picked up and showing it to Anderson Cooper.
Yesterday, after giving several zany interviews which catapulted him to internet celebrity status, Charles Ramsey’s mentions of McDonald’s caught the attention of the fast food chain.
McDonald’s later tweeted: “We salute the courage of Ohio kidnap victims & respect their privacy. Way to go Charles Ramsey – we’ll be in touch.”
Charles Ramsey’s expletive-filled 911 call is garnering just as much attention as his interviews.
He explains to the dispatcher: “Hey bro I’m at 2207 Seymour Avenue, West 25th. Hey check this out, I just came from McDonald’s right? And I’m on my porch eating my little food and this broad is trying to break outa the f***ing house next door to me.
“There was a bunch of people on the street right now and sh** and we are like, <<What’s wrong with you, what’s the problem?>>
“And she’s like, <<This mother f***er has kidnapped me and my daughter>>. Said her name is Linda Berry or some shit. I don’t know who the fuck that is, I just moved over here bro.”
The dispatcher asks Charles Ramsey to calm down and slow down and tries to ascertain what is happening and where they are.
He explains that he is looking at Amanda Berry, who is on the phone with a different dispatcher. Charles Ramsey explains that she is white, but her child is Hispanic and that she is wearing “a white tank top and blue sweat pants”.
Charles Ramsey is then asked if Amanda Berry needs an ambulance and he can be heard shouting over to her.
“You need an ambulance or what? She needs everything, she in a panic, she’s been kidnapped you know? So put yourself in her shoes.”
Michelle Knight, one of the three women freed from a decade of imprisonment in a Cleveland home, is reportedly suffering hearing loss and facial bone damage after years of vicious beatings to her head, it has emerged.
Michelle Knight, now 32, who vanished in 2002, was found at a Cleveland home on Monday with two other women and a six-year-old girl – but she has not yet contacted her mother for a reunion.
The first details about Michelle Knight are emerging as images of her have finally been released. They show her as a teenager before she was kidnapped – at a time when she endured an often troubled relationship with her family.
She had given birth to a son who was later taken into the custody of child services, and authorities suggested to her mother that she may have fled following the upset from the ordeal.
Her mother, Barbara Knight, left her home in Naples, Florida, on Tuesday to head to Cleveland to see Michelle but they have not yet been reunited, she told the Today show.
Barbara Knight, 50, said she never gave up hope and will now be able to introduce Michelle to the half sister she has never met, 10-year-old Katie, who was born after she disappeared.
Katie was with her mother as they left for the airport on Tuesday afternoon.
On Wednesday, Barbara Knight spoke to the Today show about how she had never given up hope that her daughter was alive – but that she was led to believe the woman, then in her 20s, had fled.
“Certain people said she didn’t want nothing to do with me but still in my heart I thought no, because I knew my Michelle,” she said.
“They figured she just left because of the baby and everything.
“[Police] told me if she breaks the law or they spot her, they’ll let me know – but nothing happened.”
Barbara Knight, who said she filed a missing persons report after Michelle vanished and continued to search for her, said her sons have been reunited with Michelle but she has not yet seen her.
“I don’t want her to think that I forgot about her,” Barbara Knight said.
“Hopefully whatever happened between us, if something did – I hope it heals because I really want to take her back to Florida with me.”
Michelle Knight vanished in 2002 but she was never registered as missing on the Ohio Missing Persons website
Sources told Fox 8 that Michelle Knight appears to have facial bone damage from her horrific treatment.
But Barbara Knight said that she knew little about what had happened to Michelle since she last saw her as she has not spoken with detectives, she said.
“There was a detective who called me but he just said it was my daughter,” she said, adding that she missed his call and that he had left work when she called back.
“I didn’t get a hold of anyone.”
Instead, she only knows the details from watching news reports.
While the stories of missing Cleveland girls Gina DeJesus and Amanda Berry, who were also found on Monday, have remained high-profile cases over the last decade, little is known of Michelle Knight.
While family appeals for Gina DeJesus and Amanda Berry have been frequent and well-publicized over the past ten years, her case appears to have been long forgotten.
Now believed to be aged around 32, Michelle Knight was in her early twenties when she was last seen on August 23, 2002, at her cousin’s house near West 106th Street and Lorain Avenue.
Barbara Knight said she would often put up fliers around Cleveland’s West Side and even after moving away she would return to continue the search on her own as police were little help.
Michelle Knight’s grandmother, Deborah Knight, said the family, after speaking with police and social workers, had accepted that she likely left on her own free will.
They believed Michelle Knight was angry that her son had been taken into custody.
Barbara Knight previously told The Plain Dealer that her daughter vanished shortly after she was scheduled for a court appearance in the custody case of her son.
The mother told the paper that Michelle Knight had become involved with an abusive man whom she thinks injured her toddler grandson, eventually leading Michelle to lose the boy.
Michelle Knight had him as a teenager; her mother said that she had been assaulted at school but it was never taken seriously by police. She then fell pregnant soon after and dropped out of school.
Michelle Knight was never registered as missing on the Ohio Missing Persons website.
Barbara Knight told The Plain Dealer she believes she once saw her daughter walking with an older man at a shopping mall several years ago. When the woman trailed behind her companion, he would grab her by the arm and pull her along, she said.
The mother was “calmly” looking forward to the reunion according to neighbors in Naples, where she lives with her second husband Tom Hudson and members of his family.
“It’s an emotional time for them,” said Sheldon Gofberg who lives across the street from the family’s house in the southwest Florida town.
“They didn’t get any sleep last night.”
Sheldon Gofberg said neighbors had no idea that Barbara Knight was the mother of a missing girl and that she appeared to have her hands full looking after Katie and helping with Tom Hudson’s two children, Julian, 16, and his sister Alex, 8.
“They’re a friendly family, Tom would do anything to help you, give you the shirt off his back,” Sheldon Gofberg said.
Despite the turmoil, Tom Hudson kept a commitment with Sheldon Gofberg to take him to a Home Depot.
“We were in the car driving and Tom said, <<You know those three girls they found in the house in Cleveland? One of them was Barbara’s daughter>>. I was astounded,” Sheldon Gofberg said.
“I said, <<She’s got to be pretty emotional?>> and he said, <<Not really because we’ve been waiting to hear back from the FBI>>.”
The family had refused to talk to reporters and TV crews waiting outside their home, sending the teenage boy Julian, who was wearing an ankle monitoring bracelet, outside to ask them to leave.
After 10 years being held against their will, the three women – Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight – were finally freed after neighbor Charles Ramsey, heard screaming from the house and helped them escape through a door.
Anthony Castro, son of Ariel Castro – one of three men held over the disappearance of three Cleveland girls – reportedly wrote an article in 2004 about one of the victims, Gina DeJesus.
Anthony Castro told WKYC news he had penned the piece for the Plain Press.
He apparently knew nothing about his father’s alleged involvement in the case when he produced the article about Gina DeJesus’ disappearance.
Gina DeJesus was rescued on Monday along with Amanda Berry and Michelle Knight.
The author of the 861-word Plain Press article describes the anxiety felt by the neighborhood in the aftermath of Gina DeJesus’ disappearance.
It outlines the concerns of parents and relatives about sex offenders in the area.
The article also features an interview with Gina DeJesus’ mother, Nancy Ruiz.
The Plain Press is a local community newspaper in Cleveland.
It is believed that Anthony Castro was a college student at the time, and wrote the article as part of a class assignment.
Anthony Castro is reported to have been “stunned” by his father’s alleged involvement in the case, describing it as “beyond comprehension”.
Gina DeJesus was rescued on Monday along with Amanda Berry and Michelle Knight
Gina DeJesus’ disappearance has changed her neighborhood
by Ariel Castro
(Plain Press, June 2004) Since April 2, 2004 , the day 14-year-old Gina DeJesus was last seen on her way home from Wilbur Wright Middle School , neighborhood residents have been taken by an overwhelming need for caution. Parents are more strictly enforcing curfews, encouraging their children to walk in groups, or driving them to and from school when they had previously walked alone.
“You can tell the difference,” DeJesus’ mother, Nancy Ruiz said. “People are watching out for each other’s kids. It’s a shame that a tragedy had to happen for me to really know my neighbors. Bless their hearts, they’ve been great.”
On Cleveland ’s west side, it is difficult to go any length of time without seeing Gina’s picture on telephone poles, in windows, or on cars along the busy streets.
“People are really looking out for my daughter,” Ruiz said.
For seven weeks, Gina’s family has been organizing searches, holding prayer vigils, posting fliers and calling press conferences. Despite the many tips and rumors that have been circulating in the neighborhood, there has been no sign of her.
One thing is for certain, however. Almost everyone feels a connection with the family, and Gina’s disappearance has the whole area talking.
“It’s traumatized a lot of people,” Bob Zak, Safety Coordinator of the Westown Community Development Corporation, said. “People are suspicious of everyone. Kids, parents, and grandparents are afraid.”
The organization serves Cleveland ’s Ward 19, which stretches from West Boulevard to West 134th Street .
Parents and relatives waiting for their children as school let out at Wilbur Wright recently expressed concern about the number of sex offenders living and working in the area.
“I really believe there needs to be more security,” Vaneetha Smith said as she waited for her niece outside Wilbur Wright Middle School at the end of the day. “We have too many kidnappings, and they should crack down on all the sex offenders in the area.”
Luis Perez echoed Smith’s concerns as he waited for his niece at the school.
“I think the neighborhood is pretty bad,” he said. “You have to be aware of some people out there.”
The Ohio Electronic Sex Offender Registration and Notification (eSORN) database lists 133 sex offenders living or working in Gina’s immediate zip code. Many residents of the area, however, cannot use the database, as they do not have access to the Internet at home.
“I have been here almost four years and I have been notified of only one sex offender,” Ruiz said. “And he lives only about 1,000 feet away from here.”
Ohio law prohibits sex offenders who are required to register from establishing their residence within 1,000 feet of school buildings.
“There is no enforcing the laws because they still live right next to the schools and the bus stops,” Ruiz said. She believes the process of registering sex offenders is essentially a waste of time.
At a Ward 19 crime watch meeting, one of ten monthly, residents describe the area as a multi-ethnic community where people work and try to keep their housing up to par. They feel the disappearance of Amanda Berry on April 21, 2003 was a wake-up call, but Gina’s case really caught everyone’s attention.
Many residents believe the schools and the city have more work to do to help out.
“There is not enough supervision at the schools and when the kids get out, they still run through the streets,” Smith said. “They say that once they leave the school premises, the school is not responsible for them. But until they reach their house, I believe they are. They should be more concerned with their safety.”
“The school is supposed to be a safe place,” Perez said. “They need more police around the schools, surrounding the area. Without that, it’s just going to keep on going and there will be more innocent people getting hurt.”
Isaac Rodriguez has seen some changes happen at Wilbur Wright.
“There are more security guards at the school now,” the father of two middle school students said. “They have been having assemblies and talking to the kids about the danger.”
“When you send your kids out to school now”, Smith said, “you don’t know if they are going to make it home or not. From West 105th to [West 110th], anything could happen. I feel the mayor should do something about that. The children should be our first priority, no matter what else is going on in the city.”
Zak, a former Cleveland police officer of 30 years, believes the community is feeling the effects of the city’s cuts in the police force.
“The first thing a city should do is protect its citizens,” he said. Although police cannot be on the scene of every crime as they occur, Zak reports that residents are getting responses to calls “one, two, and four hours later.”
Cuts in the police force are not the only budget changes that are directly affecting residents. The Cleveland Municipal School District is also mulling how it will eliminate its projected $100 million budget deficit. Among the items cut will be purchased services, employee overtime, supplemental pay, textbooks, school staff and student transportation.
Ohio police have praised the bravery of three women – Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michele Knight – found alive on Monday evening in a house in Cleveland, after they vanished about a decade ago.
Amanda Berry, who disappeared in 2003 aged 16, escaped with a neighbor’s help while her alleged captor, later identified as Ariel Castro, was away.
Gina DeJesus, who went missing aged 14 a year later, and Michele Knight, who vanished in 2002 aged about 19, were also rescued from the property.
School bus driver Ariel Castro and his two brothers have been arrested.
The three women were taken to hospital for a check-up and to be reunited with their relatives before being discharged on Tuesday morning.
A six-year-old girl also rescued from the house was believed to be the daughter of Amanda Berry, Deputy Police Chief Ed Tomba told a news conference.
FBI Special Agent Stephen Anthony said: “The nightmare is over. These three young ladies have provided us with the ultimate definition of survival and perseverance. The healing can now begin.”
“Yes, law enforcement professionals do cry,” he added.
Ed Tomba vowed prosecutors would “bring the full weight of justice” on those responsible in the “horrific case”.
Ariel Castro, 52, and his two brothers, Pedro, 54, and Onil, 50, have been taken into custody.
Amanda Berry disappeared in 2003 aged 16
Police Chief Michael McGrath said the women were believed to have been tied up at the house. Officials said they may also investigate other properties.
Amanda Berry, now 27, escaped on Monday evening when a neighbor heard her screaming and kicking a door, while her alleged captor was out of the house.
Rescuer Charles Ramsey said he had helped kick in a metal door so that Amanda Berry could climb outside and phone police.
In a recording of Monday’s emergency call, Amanda Berry says: “I’ve been kidnapped, and I’ve been missing for 10 years. And I’m here. I’m free now.”
Amanda Berry identifies herself to the 911 dispatcher, saying she has been on the news for the past decade, and begging for help to arrive before her captor returns.
Police Chief Michael McGrath told Tuesday’s news conference: “Thankfully, due to Amanda’s brave actions these three women are alive today.”
Neighbor Anna Tejeda said she had refused to believe the young woman at first.
“You’re not Amanda Berry. Amanda Berry is dead,” she said, according to the Associated Press news agency.
Other neighbors in the working-class district said they did not realize anybody was living at the house at 2207 Seymour Ave.
During the news conference, Public Safety Director Martin Flask said that in March 2000, Ariel Castro had called the authorities to report a fight on his street, but no arrest was made.
In January 2004, police called at Ariel Castro’s home, but no-one answered. They were alerted by children’s services after a child was left at a depot on a school bus that Ariel Castro had been driving. Authorities concluded there had been no criminal intent.
Amanda Berry had last been heard from aged 16 when she called her sister on 21 April 2003 to say she would get a lift home from her job at a Burger King restaurant.
In 2004, Gina DeJesus – who is now 23 years old – was believed to have been on her way home from school when she went missing.
Their disappearances made local headlines in Cleveland, and many assumed the girls were dead.
The case of Michele Knight, who was older than the other women when she disappeared and is now 32, was less widely publicized.
Her grandmother, Deborah Knight, was quoted by the Cleveland Plain Dealer newspaper on Monday as saying the authorities concluded she had run away.
The victims’ families have responded with stunned joy. Sylvia Colon, a relative of Gina DeJesus, said they had never given up hope.
But Amanda Berry’s mother, Louwana, died in March 2006, three years after her daughter went missing. A local politician said the mother had died of a “broken heart”.
In an extraordinary twist, it emerged that Ariel Castro’s son – also called Ariel, although he goes by his middle name Anthony – wrote an article about the disappearance of Gina DeJesus for his local newspaper in 2004.
Police have not commented on the case of a fourth missing girl, Ashley Summers, who disappeared in the same area in July 2007 when 14 years old.
Charles Ramsey, the neighbor credited with saving three young women held captive in a Cleveland home for a decade, said he heard desperate screams and then kicked through a door to help one escape.
Charles Ramsey said he was eating a McDonald’s meal when he heard the cries, ran over to investigate holding a Big Mac and then came face to face with Amanda Berry, who was last seen in 2003 aged 16.
He told WEWS-TV: “I heard screaming, and I see this girl going nuts trying to get outside [of the house].
“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.”
“She comes out with a little girl and says <<Call 911, my name is Amanda Berry>>.”
Charles Ramsey said he didn’t immediately process that it was the same Amanda Berry who had disappeared from the neighborhood 10 years ago.
Charles Ramsey is the neighbor credited with saving three young women held captive in a Cleveland home for a decade
Soon afterwards, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight were also found alive on inside the house.
When Charles Ramsey helped Amanda Berry out of the house, she was holding a young child, and there were other children in the home.
Charles Ramsey added: “I knew something was wrong when a little pretty white girl ran into a black man’s arms. Something is wrong here. Dead giveaway.”
Ariel Castro, 52, has been arrested and is in police custody in connection with the kidnapping case along with his two unnamed brothers, who are 50 and 54.
Charles Ramsey said: “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 Berry the phone, and she told police that she had been held captive in the home and to send help.
Also found in the home were two more women who had been reported missing at around the same time – Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight. All three appeared to be in good health.
Dr. Gerald Maloney, of Cleveland MetroHealth Center, told reporters: “They’re safe… We’re in the process of evaluating medical needs. They appear to be in fair condition at the moment.”
Gina DeJesus vanished in 2004, while Michelle Knight was last seen in 2002.
There were also several children in the home.
When police arrived, officers asked Charles Ramsey if he knew who he rescued.
The revelations shocked Charles Ramsey, who said that he has known Ariel Castro and the two often spent time together.
He told NewsNet5: “I’ve been here a year. I barbeque with this dude, we eat ribs and what not and listen to salsa music. Not a clue that that girl was in that house or that anyone else was in there with.”
Charles Ramsey added: “He’s somebody you look and then you look away because he’s just doing normal stuff. You got some big testicles to pull this one off because we see this guy every day.”
Amanda Berry disappeared at age 16 on April 21, 2003, one day before her 17th anniversary, when she called her sister to say she was getting a ride home from her job at a Burger King.
Gina DeJesus went missing at age 14 on her way home from school about a year later.
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 three missing women in Cleveland who were abducted a decade ago were all last seen on the same busy block in the city
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.
Three young women – Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michele Knight – who vanished in separate incidents about a decade ago in Ohio have been found alive in a house in Cleveland.
Amanda Berry disappeared aged 16 in 2003, Gina DeJesus went missing aged 14 in 2004, and Michele Knight disappeared in 2002 aged around 19.
Their discovery followed a dramatic bid for freedom by Amanda Berry on Monday, helped by a neighbor.
Three brothers have been arrested in connection with the case.
Cleveland police said the suspects are Hispanic, aged 50, 52 and 54, and one of them had lived at the house on Seymour Avenue.
One was named as Ariel Castro, who has worked as a school bus driver.
Police have said a six-year-old girl was also found at the home. They have not revealed any further details, although a relative of Amanda Berry said she told him she had a daughter.
The girls’ family reacted with shock and delight at news of their discovery, and many people gathered outside the home where they had allegedly been imprisoned.
“In all this time, 10 years, nobody never figured nothing about where she was at and this has come to an end and it’s right here on Seymour,” said Gina DeJesus’ uncle.
A doctor said the three women were in a fair condition and were being kept in hospital for observation.
“This isn’t the ending we usually hear to these stories,” said Dr. Gerald Maloney in a brief news conference outside Metro Health hospital in Cleveland.
“We’re very happy.”
Speaking amid cheers from spectators, he added the women were able to speak to hospital staff but he declined to give further details.
The disappearances of Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus had been big news in Cleveland, and many had assumed them to be dead.
Little was made of the disappearance of Michelle Knight, who was older than the other two girls.
Her grandmother, Deborah Knight, was quoted by the Cleveland Plain Dealer newspaper on Monday as saying that the authorities concluded she had run away.
The dramatic events unfolded after Amanda Berry attempted to flee the house when her alleged captor went out.
Amanda Berry disappeared aged 16 in 2003, Gina DeJesus went missing aged 14 in 2004
Neighbor Charles Ramsey said he heard screaming.
“I see this girl going nuts trying to get outside,” he told reporters.
He said he suggested the woman open the door and exit, but she told him it was locked.
“We had to kick open the bottom,” he said.
“Lucky on that door it was aluminium. It was cheap. She climbed out with her daughter.”
Both Charles Ramsey and Amanda Berry called 911.
In her frantic call, released to the news media, Amanda Berry told the operator: “I’m Amanda Berry. I’ve been kidnapped. I’ve been missing for 10 years. I’m free. I’m here now.”
She identified her kidnapper as Ariel Castro and said other women were in the house.
Charles Ramsey said he was stunned by the developments. He said he had shared barbeques with Ariel Castro and never suspected a thing.
“There was nothing exciting about him… well, until today,” he said.
Amanda Berry at the Cleveland Hospital alongside her sister and the daughter that she gave birth to during the 10 years she was held against her will
An uncle, Julio Castro, who has a shop nearby, confirmed his nephew had been arrested, and said Ariel Castro had worked as a school bus driver. The Cleveland school district confirmed he worked for them, but did not give specifics.
“I am thankful that Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight have been found alive,” Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson said.
“We have many unanswered questions regarding this case and the investigation will be ongoing.”
Amanda Berry was last heard from when she called her sister on 21 April 2003 to say she would get a lift home from work at a Burger King restaurant.
In 2004, Gina DeJesus was said to be on her way home from school when she went missing.
Their cases were re-opened last year when a prison inmate tipped off authorities that Amanda Berry may have been buried in Cleveland. He received a four-and-a-half-year sentence in prison for the false information.
Amanda Berry’s mother, Louwana, died in March 2006, three years after her daughter’s disappearance.
Although much is still not yet known about this case, it recalled a series of recent high-profile child abduction cases.
Jaycee Lee Dugard was 11 years old when she was dragged into a car as she walked to a bus stop near her home in South Lake Tahoe, California in 1991.
She was discovered in August 2009, having spent 18 years held captive in the backyard of Phillip and Nancy Garrido in Antioch, some 170 miles from South Lake Tahoe. She had two children.
In Austria, Natascha Kampusch was abducted on her way to school at the age of 10. She was held for eight years by Wolfgang Priklopil in the windowless basement of a house in a quiet suburb of Vienna.
She managed to escape in 2006 while Wolfgang Priklopil was making a phone call. He committed suicide hours after she had fled.
Elizabeth Smart was 14 when she was taken from the bedroom of her Utah home in June 2002 and repeatedly raped during nine months of captivity.
She was rescued in March 2003 less than 20 miles from her home. Her abductor, Brian David Mitchell, was jailed for life in 2011.