In a special edition of ABC’s 20/20, Amanda Berry recalls the moment she and two other women escaped from Ariel Castro’s Cleveland house after 10 years of imprisonment.
Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight escaped from Ariel Castro’s house of horrors in May 2013.
“When the cops had gotten there, I told them, <<there’s two other girls in the house>> … they put me in a car and then that’s when they ran upstairs to get them, and once I saw that, I’m like, <<This is it. I think we’re free now>>,” Amanda Berry says.
Amanda Berry, 29, and Gina DeJesus, 25, co-authored a book and confirmed to People magazine that they are no longer close with third victim Michelle Knight, who also chose not to appear in the ABC special.
“I think we all did like each other at one point, then [Ariel Castro] played us against each other so we couldn’t trust people,” Gina DeJesus told People magazine.
Michelle Knight, now 33, who has since changed her name to Lilly Rose Lee, was 21 years old when she was the first to be taken captive in 2002.
Amanda Berry disappeared in 2003, a day before she turned 17. A year later, 14-year-old Gina DeJesus also went missing.
Thus began an unbearable decade of beatings, abuse and imprisonment inside their torture-chamber bedrooms.
ABC’s 20/20 special will air on Tuesday, April 28th, at 10/9c.
In a recent interview, Michelle Knight said she has been able to forgive kidnapper Ariel Castro and find peace in her life.
Michelle Knight, 33, is one of the three women held captive by Ariel Castro in Cleveland’s house of horror for about a decade.
She was kidnapped in August 2002 when she was 21.
Michelle Knight said she realizes now that Ariel Castro had a disease, and therapy has taught her that what he did hadn’t been his fault, The Cleveland Plain Dealer reported.
Michelle Knight said she has been able to forgive kidnapper Ariel Castro and find peace in her life (photo Today Show)
Amanda Berry, Michelle Knight and Gina DeJesus broke out of the house in May 2013 after suffering years of torture. Michelle Knight said it wasn’t until about a year and a half after her rescue from Ariel Castro’s home that she reached a breakthrough.
“I was able to say his name, Ariel Castro,” she said.
“I was able to forgive him.”
Michelle Knight made the comments during an interview conducted by a radio host on October 18 at Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin High School in Chardon, Ohio.
Ariel Castro pleaded guilty to a long list of charges and committed suicide in prison in September 2013.
Michelle Knight said her time in captivity has made her stronger and has allowed her to know herself better.
Cleveland kidnap victim Michelle Knight revealed in a recent interview how she has discovered that the fame that followed her escape from Ariel Castro’s house of horrors cuts both ways.
The woman, who spent nearly 11 years in captivity, has her own apartment and her book, Finding Me, spent five weeks on the New York Times Bestsellers List.
Michelle Knight, Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus split $1.4 million in donations collected after their escape.
Phil McGraw of Dr. Phil television fame presented Michelle Knight with an oversized check for more than $400,000 from his foundation.
In a recent interview with the Associated Press, Michelle Knight said she is ready to assume a normal life and, with it, a new name and identity – Lily Rose Lee.
She said she becomes frightened when crowds sometimes gather around her as she walks alone. She finds it annoying when people snap cellphone photos without asking.
Michelle Knight’s book, Finding Me, spent five weeks on the New York Times Bestsellers List
And people from her distant past have reappeared, feigning friendship but ultimately seeking money, she said.
Michelle Knight writes in her book that she grew up under less than ideal circumstances. Food and clothing were hard to come by. Strangers drifted in and out of the house at all hours. She said her mother kept her home from school for days at a time to care for her twin brothers and assorted cousins who lived there.
She ran away from home at 15 and lived beneath a highway underpass and then with a drug dealer for a few months.
Michelle Knight was 21 when Ariel Castro lured her to his home in August 2002.
She and the other two women escaped from Ariel Castro’s home on May 6, 2013.
While Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus were reunited with their families who had prayed that they would someday return, Michelle Knight refused to meet her mother who had flown to Cleveland from Florida.
Michelle Knight spent the first four months of her freedom in an assisted living facility because she had nowhere else to go.
She decided to leave her family behind. She said she forgives them but doesn’t want anything to do with them.
She also has decided to not pursue visitation rights with her son, Joey, who is now 14 and lives with adoptive parents.
Michelle Knight said her son doesn’t know she’s his birth mother and she doesn’t want to disrupt his life.
Cleveland house of horrors survivors Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus met with President Barack Obama and Vice-President Joe Biden last month at the White House.
Amanda Berry, 28, told People magazine: “It was one of the most unbelievable moments in my life.”
Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus met with President Barack Obama and Vice-President Joe Biden at the White House (photo White House)
Gina DeJesus, 24, said she particularly liked talking to VP Joe Biden because he was “very down-to-earth”. She added that she appreciated how much time VP Joe Biden, a longtime advocate of ending violence against women, spent with them and their families.
Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus visited the White House with Amanda’s older sister Beth Serrano and Gina’s parents.
While the two women were meeting with Joe Biden in the West Wing, President Barack Obama swung by to say hello and the group snapped a picture.
The family trip to D.C. was paid for by the National Center For Missing And Exploited Children and marked the girls’ first flight.
Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus were also treated to a salon visit and a shopping spree.
Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus have been honored at the annual Hope Awards dinner of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children on Tuesday.
Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus were kidnapped as teens and tormented for years until their escape from Ariel Castro’s house of horrors in Cleveland on May 6, 2013.
They spoke only briefly, with Amanda Berry’s voice muffled by her infectious tears. But her message was clear: “Never give up hope.”
It was one year to the day when Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight, were freed from what authorities described as a real-life horror chamber. Ariel Castro, a school bus driver, often kept the women in ropes and chains, torturing them physically and emotionally for more than a decade in his white-frame house with boarded-up windows on Seymour Avenue.
Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus have been honored at the annual Hope Awards dinner of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
Michelle Knight was 21 when abducted and now is 33. Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus are also adults now but were honored Tuesday with Hope Awards by the missing children’s center because they were teenagers when kidnapped. Amanda Berry was taken in April of 2003, a day before she turned 17. Gina DeJesus disappeared in January 2004, when she was 14.
Hours before being presented their awards, Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus had lunch at the White House and met Vice President Joe Biden. President Barack Obama stopped by to meet them while they were talking with Joe Biden, according to the missing children’s center and the White House.
Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus have guarded their privacy, and although their appearance at the Hope Awards drew attention from network and Cleveland broadcasters, there was little certainty that they would do more than nominally address the ballroom audience of 500 Center for Missing and Exploited Children supporters.
The women appeared flanked by family members, and Amanda Berry, standing center, appeared uncertain of what to say.
“It’s an honor to be here tonight,” Amanda Berry began after hesitation.
“It is really special to be here with Gina and our families. It means more than you’ll ever know.”
Gina DeJesus then spoke, appearing equally uncertain.
“I’m glad to be here with you guys to accept this award,” she said.
“And always believe in hope, even though sometimes it is hard. … Just pray to God” for hope, she said.
Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight escaped from Castro with the help of Seymour Avenue neighbors on the eve of the missing children’s center Hope Awards last year, when the center’s president and CEO, John Ryan, was fairly new.
Amanda Barry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight have been recognized in other ways this week. Officials announced that more than 10,000 donations had been made to help them, totaling $1.4 million and divided evenly in trusts for their current and future needs.
Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus have been working with Mary Jordan, a Washington Post reporter and Cleveland native, to tell their story in a book expected to be released in 2015.
Michelle Knight made an emotional return to the syndicated Dr. Phil show on Wednesday.
The Cleveland survivor said the horrific memories of being held captive and brutalized by Ariel Castro don’t fade with time.
“No, they never go away,” Michelle Knight told Dr. Phil McGraw.
“They stay there, but you know you’re able to live your life.”
Michelle Knight shared many painful and disturbing memories during a highly rated two-part interview aired on Phil McGraw’s daytime talk show in November. A year after escaping Ariel Castro’s Seymour Avenue home, she reunited with Phil McGraw, this time in front of a studio audience.
Airing a day after the publication of her memoir, Finding Me: A Decade of Darkness, A Life Reclaimed, this was her fourth national television appearance in four days.
Michelle Knight was interviewed by NBC’s Savannah Guthrie Sunday night for the lead story on Dateline. She again spoke to Guthrie Monday morning, this time for a segment of NBC’s Today show. That night, she was interviewed by CNN’s Anderson Cooper.
Writing the book was “a healing experience” Michelle Knight told Phil McGraw on Wednesday’s episode of Dr. Phil.
“It helped me go through all the emotions that I couldn’t do on my own,” said Michelle Knight, who has changed her name to Lilian Rose Lee.
Phil McGraw introduced Michelle Knight as “an inspiring young woman” and “one of my favorite people that I admire so much.”
“One year after being rescued, Michelle is stronger, happier and finally free,” he told his audience.
Dr. Phil episode aired a day after the publication of Michelle Knight’s memoir, Finding Me: A Decade of Darkness, A Life Reclaimed (photo Dr. Phil)
When asked what she hoped people would take away from her book, Michelle Knight replied: “I want them to know that everybody survives in their own personal way.”
Michelle Knight was the first of three Cleveland women abducted by Castro. She disappeared in August 2002. She was 21 at the time.
Throughout the interview, Michelle Knight refused to refer to Ariel Castro by name. She called him “the Dude”.
She told Phil McGraw that Ariel Castro would rape her as many as “six, seven times a day.” There were five pregnancies.
What did Ariel Castro do when he learned she was pregnant?
“Beat me, starve me, push me down stairs, punch me, jump on my stomach,” Michelle Knight said. The torture continued until the baby was aborted.
Michelle Knight also recalled Castro looking at a news report about murdered 6-year-old JonBenet Ramsey, saying “he wished he got to her first”.
Michelle Knight, Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus escaped from the Seymour Avenue home on May 6, 2013. Castro pleaded guilty to more than 900 criminal counts that included kidnapping, rape and aggravated murder. As part of a plea bargain, Ariel Castro was sentenced to life imprisonment plus 1,000 years, without the chance of parole.
Ariel Castro was found dead on September 3, hanging by a bedsheet in his cell at the Correctional Reception Center in Orient, south of Columbus.
Unlike Berry and DeJesus, who returned to loving families, Michelle Knight spent time at a hospice facility.
“I felt really alone, that nobody really understood,” she said.
Phil McGraw wanted to know if Michelle Knight had any desire to reunite with her family.
“No,” she said.
“I feel that if I do, they’re going to treat me the same way they did before.”
Ariel Castro kept Michelle Knight and Gina DeJesus imprisoned in the same room. Phil McGraw asked if she talks to Gina DeJesus.
“Well, it’s just like they all say: relationships with friends come and go,” Michelle Knight said.
“She was there for a little while, and now she’s doing her own thing. I still care and I still love her, and she could always reach me anytime.”
Phil McGraw asked Michelle Knight how did it go when she was reunited with Berry and DeJesus in February when Gov. John Kasich presented them Ohio Courage medals.
“Awkward because we haven’t talked for a real long time and the relationship with us started to go downhill,” she said.
Michelle Knight spoke about her decision not to fight for custody of her son, Joey. He was adopted during her 11 years of captivity, and she thinks he’s with loving parents.
“All I want is the best for him,” she said.
At the end of the episode, Phil McGraw presented Michelle Knight with a Dr. Phil Foundation check for $431,630.
The program included scenes shot in Michelle Knight’s Cleveland apartment, where she keeps a Christmas tree up year round.
“It feels like I’m free,” she said.
“I don’t feel like I’m trapped in a cage.”
Dr. Phil also presented Michelle Knight to culinary school and on a shopping trip to Macy’s.
Michelle Knight was 21 years old when she was kidnapped on August 23, 2002, in Cleveland, Ohio.
She was held prisoner by Ariel Castro, suffering abuse at his hands for more than 10 years.
Michelle Knight was 21 years old when she was kidnapped on August 2002 (photo Dr. Phil)
Born in April 1981, Michelle Knight grew up in Cleveland, Ohio. As a girl, she wanted to pursue a career as a firefighter, and later aspired to become a veterinarian.
Unfortunately, Michelle Knight – whose height of 4 feet 7 inches earned her the nickname “Shorty” – was bullied in high school.
At the age of 17, Michelle Knight told her mother that she had been assaulted at school.
She dropped out of school after becoming pregnant. She had a son, whom she named Joey. When the boy was a toddler, an injury – possibly caused by an abusive boyfriend of her mother’s – led to his son being taken away from Knight and placed in foster care.
Michelle Knight, Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus were rescued from Ariel Castro’s house of horrors on May 6, 2013.
The memoirs of Charles Ramsey – the man who became famous after he helped Michelle Knight, Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus escape from Cleveland home they had been held captive in for over a decade – are available for pre-order.
Charles Ramsey told NewsChannel5 in an interview that went viral that he was eating a Big Mac when he heard Amanda Berry screaming for help from his neighbor Ariel Castro’s home.
From dishwasher to international celebrity in one afternoon, that’s how Charles Ramsey’s new website CharlesRamseyWorld.com describes the roller coaster ride that transformed him in a matter of hours from that local dishwasher to an internet star.
Charles Ramsey became famous after he helped Michelle Knight, Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus escape from Cleveland horrors house
The nearly 200 page book available in paperback for $14.95 begins with the day of May 6, 2013 and what Charles Ramsey heard while he was famously eating his McDonalds, that led him to the porch of his neighbor Ariel Castro and the freedom of Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight.
It was a story that captured the immediate attention of the world. People wanted information, they wanted details and they wanted it immediately and it was in that vacuum that an internet star was born.
Charles Ramsey’s live interview on NewsChannel 5 in the seconds after a live signal was established from the street was soon replaying on networks around the world and achieved viral status on the internet within hours.
It is an interview that to this date has over 15 million views online and was voted one of YouTube’s top 10 news videos of 2013.
It was auto-tuned within 24 hours, a song that itself has more than 22 million views online.
An excerpt from the book Dead Giveaway: The Rescue, Hamburgers, White Folks, and Instat Celebrity… What You Saw on TV Doesn’t Even Begin to Tell the Story… (Gray & Company Publishers)is available on the publisher’s website.
Cleveland survivor Michelle Knight is returning to Dr. Phil show for a follow-up discussion after her two-part interview aired six months ago.
The new interview with Dr. Phil McGraw will air Wednesday, May 7, a day after the release of Michelle Knight’s memoir, Finding Me: A Decade of Darkness, A Life Reclaimed.
Dr. Phil airs at 5 p.m. on WKYC Channel 3.
Michelle Knight also is being interviewed by Savannah Guthrie for an episode of NBC’s Dateline. The program airs at 8 p.m. Sunday, May 4, on Channel 3. She will then be in studio Monday morning for NBC’s Today show.
During her November appearance on Dr. Phil, Michelle Knight spoke about the day she was kidnapped by Ariel Castro, how she endured 10 years in captivity, and how she finally escaped from Castro’s Seymour Avenue home.
In the follow-up interview with Dr. Phil McGraw, she discusses her first year of freedom and how she’s worked to build an independent life.
Michelle Knight is returning to Dr. Phil show for a follow-up discussion after her two-part interview aired six months ago (photo Dr. Phil)
According to a statement released by the show: “Since her nightmare ended one year ago, Michelle is healthy and happy, and has created a productive and meaningful life for herself. Though she once was forced to live off of meager food scraps, she is now in culinary school pursuing a secure and stable career. She shows her strength as she joins Dr. Phil for her first interview in front of a live, studio audience.”
Michelle Knight was the first of three Cleveland women abducted by Castro. She disappeared in August 2002. She was 21 at the time.
Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight were held captive by Ariel Castro for more than 10 years. Amanda Berry was kidnapped in April 2003, the day before her 17th birthday. Gina DeJesus was 14 when she disappeared in April 2004. They escaped from the Seymour Avenue home on May 6, 2013.
“Having formed a deep bond with Dr. Phil during their first meeting last year, Michelle had shared some painful experiences with him privately that she wasn’t comfortable sharing publicly,” the production company’s description of the episode says.
“The experience of writing her book over the past year, though, has been therapeutic for Michelle and prepared her to discuss these experiences in front of the audience.”
Dr. Phil McGraw was granted a look inside the many journals Michelle Knight kept while in captivity, reading the poems and letters she wrote to her son.
“Amanda and Gina had families to go home to, but after Michelle was freed, no one thought she could care for herself or that she could live on her own,” Phil McGraw said in the statement released by the Dr. Phil show.
“Michelle has certainly proven everybody wrong.”
Michelle Knight recently reunited with her fellow captives, and she tells Phil McGraw about their relationship today, and where she sees it going in the future.
It was nearly year ago that Charles Ramsey helped Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight escape about a decade of captivity in Ariel Castro’s home on Seymour Avenue in Cleveland.
Charles Ramsey sat down for an interview with Plain Dealer reporter Tom Feran.
Ariel Castro’s neighbor helped Gina DeJesus, Michelle Knight, Amanda Berry and Amanda’s daughter escape a nearly a decade of captivity and abuse in the house of horrors on Seymour Avenue in Cleveland.
Charles Ramsey’s new book Dead Giveaway written with Randy Nyerges, has been released on May 1 (photo Digital First Media)
“Their faith has been test for ten years,” said Charles Ramsey about Gina DeJesus’ mother and father during the interview with Plain Dealer.
“They didn’t give up one day of hope….Those are the heros, it’s not me.”
Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight were given 2014 Ohio Courage medals by Gov. John Kasich during his State of the State speech in February.
Ariel Castro, 53, died in prison last year when he was found hanging in his prison cell after being sentenced to life plus 1,000 years when he plead guilty to hundreds of counts of kidnapping and rape involving the three young women.
Charles Ramsey’s new book Dead Giveaway written with Randy Nyerges, has been released on May 1 by publisher Gray& Co.
Almost a year later, Charles Ramsey is the first person connected to the ordeal to release a book, Dead Giveaway, the title coming from a phrase Ramsey used in a local TV interview.
Written with Randy Nyerges of Berea and carrying the lengthy subtitle The Rescue, Hamburgers, White Folks and Instant Celebrity … What You Saw on TV Doesn’t Even Begin to Tell the Story …, the book covers a wide range of topics and much of his life.
Cleveland survivors Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus will be in Washington DC the first anniversary of their escape, along with Michelle Knight, from Ariel Castro’s house after a decade in captivity.
Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus will be at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children will honor them at its annual Hope Awards Dinner.
Amanda Berry was 16 and Gina DeJesus was 14 when they were abducted
The center said in a news release Thursday that it is honoring Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus for “their courage and resilience and for giving hope to families still searching for their missing children”.
Amanda Berry was 16 and Gina DeJesus was 14 when they were abducted. Michelle Knight, who was held the longest, was 21 when she was reported missing. The center focuses on the exploitation of children and that is why only Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus are being recognized Tuesday, though the center has acknowledged Michelle Knight’s captivity in its news release.
The anniversary of their freedom has received wide attention. Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus have not yet talked publicly about their ordeal. They have been collaborating on a book with Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist Mary Jordan of The Washington Post, who is from Cleveland.
Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus’ book is expected to be published next year.
Michelle Knight, who discussed her abduction at length on psychologist Phil McGraw’s talk show last year, is expected to release her own book in the coming week.
During a recent interview, Michelle Knight revealed how her captor Ariel Castro would keep her and the other two women locked in an upstairs room when guests would come to visit – blocking them in with piles of furniture.
Using a model reconstruction of the Cleveland horror house, Michelle Knight, who has changed her name to Lily Rose Lee, explained how Ariel Castro “would take speakers, a couch, chairs and block anyone from getting up the stairs at all”.
Michelle Knight, who spent more than a decade locked up, revealed that she has moved into her own apartment and started cooking classes as she dreams of becoming a chef.
The 33-year-old told Today Show: “Sometimes in life you have a dark past that makes you who you are but doesn’t define who you are.”
Michelle Knight is now known as Lily Rose Lee, a name she picked after her favorite flower. She explained her decision, saying: “I felt like every brand new start needs new beginnings.”
Michelle Knight revealed how her captor Ariel Castro would keep her and the other two women locked in an upstairs room when guests would come to visit (photo Today Show)
She escaped on May 6, 2013, along with Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Berry’s 6-year-old daughter from the Cleveland home.
Michelle Knight explained how at times during those long years in the house she contemplated suicide but that her friendship with fellow captor Gina DeJesus kept her strong.
She earlier revealed that she has cut ties with Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus.
Michelle Knight explained Today Show that the three survivors have put distance between each other as they all come to terms with the ordeal they suffered.
She said: “I love them and they love me. Hopefully we’ll all get back together again.”
Michelle Knight has written a memoir Finding Me which comes out on May 6, the one-year anniversary of the women’s escape.
In her book, she tells of the abuse she suffered at the hands of Ariel Castro, who killed himself in prison in September just weeks into his life sentence.
Michelle Knight had made a brave and defiant appearance at Ariel Castro’s sentencing in August in which she told him: “I spent 11 years in hell, your hell is just beginning.”
She also reveals in her book the close bond she developed with the other women, who were all snatched off the streets of Cleveland by Ariel Castro between 2002 and 2004.
Michelle Knight, who is 4’11, said that her hellish ordeal has taught her to enjoy every moment of her life.
Michelle Knight was the only one of Ariel Castro’s three victims to appear in person at his trial. Gina DeJesus and Amanda Berry’s victim impact statements were read by members of their family.
Michelle Knight, the woman held captive in Ariel Castro’s Cleveland house of horrors for over a decade, wants to be known as “Lily”, her favorite flower.
Michelle Knight’s memoir, Finding Me, is set to be published on May 6, the anniversary of her rescue.
It’s “my favorite flower,” she told People magazine, and it symbolizes renewal.
Michelle Knight, who was 21 when she was kidnapped in 2002, was the first of Ariel Castro’s victims and the one who suffered the most at the hands of the sadist.
“Everything in the house was unexplainable,” said Michelle Knight, who is now 33.
Michelle Knight’s memoir, Finding Me, is set to be published on May 6, the anniversary of her rescue (photo Dr Phil)
“It happened. I don’t know the reasons why.”
Michelle Knight said she has seen little of Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus, the other two victims, since they were rescued on May 6.
She insists there is no bad blood and that after years of being yoked together by a madman they need to heal on their own.
“I love them and they love me,” she said.
“Hopefully we’ll all get back together again.”
Michelle Knight is living in her own apartment in Cleveland, taking cooking classes and relishing her freedom.
“I don’t take things for granted anymore,” she told People magazine.
“Not even the little things like looking out a window. I went through years of torture, and now I’m back. I’m free to fly.”
Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus are also working on books.
Excerpts of Michelle Knight’s tome will be featured in next week’s issue of People magazine.
They are likely to include Michelle Knight’s horrific accounts of being chained to a pole in the basement, repeated rapes and how Ariel Castro impregnated her five times and beat her so she would miscarry each time.
Cleveland kidnapper Ariel Castro committed suicide being frustrated by conditions in his cell, obsessed with the quality of prison food and convinced that guards were mistreating him, two consultants concluded Tuesday.
The two, considered national experts on prison conditions, rejected suggestions that Ariel Castro may have died accidentally, as an earlier review by the state prisons agency suggested.
Ariel Castro’s death on September 3 was a suicide, the new report said.
All available evidence pointed to suicide, including a shrine-like arrangement of family pictures and a Bible in Ariel Castro’s cell, an increasing tone of frustration in his prison journal and coming to terms with spending the rest of his life in prison while subject to constant harassment.
Subsequent reviews by the Ohio State Highway Patrol and the Franklin County coroner reached the same conclusion, the report said.
“Based upon the fact that this inmate was going to remain in prison for the rest of his natural life under the probability of continued perceived harassment and threats to his safety, his death was not predictable on September 3, 2013, but his suicide was not surprising and perhaps inevitable,” the report said.
Fred Cohen, a retired professor at the State University of New York at Albany who helped monitor Ohio’s youth prison system as part of a federal court order, and Lindsay Hayes, who directs the National Center on Institutions and Alternatives and is an expert on prison suicides, conducted the review for the state.
Ariel Castro, 53, pleaded guilty in August to imprisoning three women in his Cleveland home for a decade while repeatedly raping and assaulting them. He fathered a girl with one of the victims.
He was found dead kneeling in his cell with his pants down; he was hanging from a sheet attached to a window hinge, according to an earlier prisons report. Ariel Castro had just begun serving his sentence of life plus 1,000 years.
Ariel Castro committed suicide being frustrated by conditions in his cell
The two consultants said it was likely Ariel Castro was harassed by guards, based on interviews with inmates who said they had heard it.
“I don’t know if I can take this neglect anymore, and the way I’m being treated,” Ariel Castro wrote in a journal on August 22, according to the report.
“I will not take this kind of treatment much longer if this place treats me this way,” Ariel Castro wrote on August 31.
“I can only imagine what things would be like at my parent institution. … I feel as though I’m being pushed over the edge, one day at a time.”
The report said Ariel Castro complained constantly about the quality of food and wrote in his journal he believed his food was being tampered with. He complained in late August that his cell and toilet were filthy.
Ariel Castro was housed at the state’s Correctional Reception Center south of Columbus, awaiting transfer to a permanent prison, when he died. None of the multiple health assessments he received indicated anything that would have required suicide-prevention measures, the consultants said.
Messages left Tuesday with Ariel Castro’s attorneys seeking comment about the report weren’t immediately returned.
The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction is committed to following recommendations in the report, spokeswoman JoEllen Smith said in a statement. They include beefing up staff training on suicide prevention and ending the use of online training.
Ohio prison inmate suicides were below the national rate over the past five years but above it this year alone, the study found.
Some inmates, who had not seen Ariel Castro, suggested of his appearance when he died that his pants slipped because of his 10-pound weight loss since entering prison, the report said.
Two prison guards were placed on paid administrative leave during the state’s investigation into Ariel Castro’s death. The corrections department alleged they falsified logs documenting the number of times guards checked on Ariel Castro before he died.
Those two guards and an additional one received formal warnings Monday that any future violations would result in immediate firings that can’t be challenged.
The consultants’ report criticized the falsification but said it didn’t contribute to Ariel Castro’s death since he was seen alive minutes before he hanged himself in a check that met prison standards.
The union representing prison guards says the state is scapegoating front-line employees for supervisory failures.
Ariel Castro abducted Michelle Knight, Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus from the streets of Cleveland from 2002 to 2004 when they were 20, 16 and 14. He periodically kept them chained in rooms, sometimes in the basement, and restricted access to food and toilets.
Michelle Knight, Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus were rescued May 6 when one of them broke out part of a door and called for help.
Michelle Knight revealed that Ariel Castro used the promise of a puppy to lure her into his Cleveland home where he held her hostage for 11 years.
“He tells me, <<Just come in for a little while. The puppies are upstairs. You can take one home to your son>>,” Michelle Knight said in an interview broadcast Tuesday on the syndicated Dr. Phil talk show.
But she soon realizedthere were no puppies inside Ariel Castro’s home. And it wasn’t long, Michelle Knight said, before he trapped her in an upstairs room and tied her up with an extension cord. From there, he took her down into the basement about 24 hours later, she said.
It was the beginning of more than a decade of torture, rape, starvation and beatings for Michelle Knight. The hope of seeing her son again, she said, inspired her fight to survive.
“I want my son to know me as a victor, not a victim,” Michelle Knight told host Dr. PhilMcGraw.
“And I wanted him to know that I survived, loving him. His love got me through.”
Ariel Castro lured Michelle Knight into his vehicle from a Family Dollar store in Cleveland in 2002, promising to give her a ride.
Michelle Knight was the first of three women he would capture and imprison in his home for about a decade. They were freed in May after one of the women, Amanda Berry, called out to neighbors for help.
In August, Ariel Castro was sentenced to life in prison plus 1,000 years after he pleaded guilty to 937 counts, including murder and kidnapping. He committed suicide in his prison cell on September 3.
Michelle Knight, Amanda Berry and the third woman, Gina DeJesus, have since been trying to readjust to life as free women. Knight, whose disappearance generated the least public notice of the three, has been the most outspoken.
“After 11 years, I am finally being heard, and it’s liberating,” she said in a powerful statement at Ariel Castro’s sentencing, describing the abuse she endured.
Her interview with “Dr. Phil,” which began airing Tuesday and is set to continue Wednesday, provides a detailed glimpse into some of the horrors she suffered and her struggle to survive.
Michelle Knight said she remembered the warning, the one Ariel Castro delivered while wrapping a chain around her neck and shackling her to a metal pole in the basement of his Cleveland home.
“Now, if I do it too tight and you don’t make it, that means you wasn’t meant to stay here. That means God wanted to take you,” Ariel Castro said, according to Knight.
Michelle Knight told Phil McGraw she sometimes spent days in the basement, chained to the pole, unable to lie down and with a motorcycle helmet over her head. The helmet made it hard to breathe, she said, “and later on I didn’t remember a thing ’cause I had passed out.”
A photograph of the pole showed white paint had been scraped away.
“That’s where I tried to get out,” Michelle Knight said.
“And I couldn’t pull the pole down because I wasn’t strong enough.”
Michelle Knight revealed that Ariel Castro used the promise of a puppy to lure her into his Cleveland home
Michelle Knight told Phil McGraw that she didn’t always fight back, though, at least not at first.
She said she was in shock after being taken and all she could do was cry and beg him to let her go back to her son.
Several attempts to escape were met with harsh punishment, she said.
“He took a pipe and he held it … over my head, and he said, <<If you scream, I’ll ram this down your throat and I’ll kill you>>,” Michelle Knight recalled, describing what she said was Ariel Castro’s response after she used a pair of pliers and a wire cutter to remove a chain around her neck.
“So I didn’t scream. I didn’t make a noise. I just laid there.”
Michelle Knight, now 32, was 21 years old when she was reported missingin 2002.
Ariel Castro, she said, would tell her of his plans to abduct other women and also implied he’d done it before.
She said he showed her an area in the basement where it said, “Rest in Peace.”
“I begged him not to bring any more there to suffer the hell I went through,” Michelle Knight said.
But it wasn’t long before Michelle Knight learned that she wasn’t the only captive.
In 2003, Amanda Berry joined her inside the house. At first, she said, they rarely saw each other.
“When we did, it was like a quick hug and <<bye>>, because he wouldn’t let us stay in the same room for that long,” she said.
When they were in separate rooms, Michelle Knight said, she would blare her television if she saw Amanda Berry’s mother on air, to make sure Amanda knew to watch. And when she saw Amanda Berry, Michelle Knight said, she tried to comfort her.
“Sometimes she would cry, and I’d tell her everything would be OK, and that one day we’ll get home,” Michelle Knight told Phil McGraw.
“We just have to, you know, wait it out.”
Since their release, accounts have depicted Michelle Knight as someone who cared for the other victims during their captivity while also enduring great suffering herself.
A family friend of one of the victims said this year that Ariel Castro used Michelle Knight as his main “punching bag.”
The friend said Ariel Castro hit Knight with a variety of objects, including hand weights. She has suffered vision loss, joint and muscle damage, and other problems from her time in captivity.
In the interview with Phil McGraw, Michelle Knight said she once watched Ariel Castro kill a beloved dog by breaking its neck. She said she was kept in a frigid room with windows boarded up. And she said Ariel Castro once punched her in the stomach with a barbell when he learned she was pregnant.
“I fell to the floor. … He said, <<Tomorrow it’d better be gone. That’s all he said>>,” Michelle Knight recalled.
“Then when I did miscarry, he blamed me. He said that I hated him, that I killed his kid, and he punched me in the face, saying that it was all my fault.”
During Michelle Knight’s time in captivity, her case got less media attention than the disappearances of Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus, whose family members posted fliers and held candlelight vigils for them.
Michelle Knight told Phil McGraw that her son was taken away after her mother’s boyfriend abused him.
“And then they tried to say that I never protected him, and I did,” she said.
“I did all I could do.”
She was still trying to do all she could on the day when she was abducted in 2002, Michelle Knight said. She told Phil McGraw she got lost on the way to a meeting with social services to discuss her son’s custody. That’s when she stopped at the dollar store to ask for directions, she said, and when Castro offered her a ride.
In the interview, Michelle Knight also gave a glimpse into what she described as a troubled childhood before her abduction, which she said was why she didn’t want to see her mother after she was released.
“I wished my mother wasn’t my mother. … I wasn’t allowed out. I wasn’t allowed to have friends. She made sure I was dumber than a doorknob,” she said.
In response, her mother, Barbara Knight, issued a statement to the Dr. Phil show.
“Michelle, my daughter, has been the victim of long-term and profound and unspeakable torture. Her point of view has been altered by that monster and what he did to her,” the statement said.
“What I have heard that she said about me breaks my heart. That is because what she now believes, while not true, increases her pain. I love my daughter. I always have and always will. I pray that someday she will heal enough to know that again.”
Two of the Cleveland kidnapping victims – Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus – are collaborating with a Pulitzer Prize-winning team of Washington Post reporters for a planned book about their captivity in the house of horrors.
Amanda Berry was abducted in April 2003. A year before her abduction, on August 23, 2002, Michelle Knight was kidnapped. In 2004, Gina deJesus joined them.
Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus said they will work with Washington Post‘s Mary Jordan, a Cleveland native, and her husband and fellow reporter, Kevin Sullivan.
Up to now, no meetings with publishers have been scheduled, although interest would likely be based on the popularity of another kidnapping survivor’s memoir, Jaycee Dugard’s A Stolen Life.
Cleveland kidnapper Ariel Castro had been sentenced to life in prison, plus 1,000 years, but was found dead in his jail cell on September 3.
Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus are collaborating with a Pulitzer Prize-winning team of Washington Post reporters for a planned book about their captivity
“Many have told, and continue to tell, this story in ways that are both inaccurate and beyond the control of these young women,” said James Wooley, the attorney for Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus.
“Our clients have a strong desire for privacy, but it is a reality that confronts them every day. Gina, Amanda and their families have decided to take control and are now interested in telling the story of what happened to them.”
James Wooley had known Mary Jordan for years and contacted her about the project.
Mary Jordan said during a recent interview that she was drawn to the “resilience” of Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus and was eager to help them tell an “amazing story of overcoming adversity”.
In 2003, Mary Jordan and Kevin Sullivan won a Pulitzer for their series about the Mexican criminal justice system.
Michelle Knight, one of the three Cleveland victims held captive for about a decade by kidnapper Ariel Castro, will speak on the Dr. Phil show this week about her experiences inside the house of horrors.
Michelle Knight, now 32, was kidnapped in 2002 and held there for 11 years.
She escaped along with Gina DeJesus and Amanda Berry May 6 after Amanda kicked out a screen door and called to a neighbor for help.
In a statement released by the Dr. Phil show says that during the segments, which will air November 5 and 6, Michelle Knight “describes the horrible conditions in the house” and reveals her physical, mental and s**ual abuse. Michelle Knight also discusses being “tied up like a fish” and spending weeks chained and tortured in the basement.
“Was he afraid you would yell out?” television host Phil McGraw asks the woman in the episode, shown in a preview on the Dr. Phil website.
“Yeah, that’s the reason why he taped my mouth shut,” Michelle Knight said.
Michelle Knight spoke on the Dr. Phil show about her experiences inside Cleveland house of horrors
When Phil McGraw asked what Ariel Castro used, Michelle Knight replied: “Duct tape.”
“I picked the lock and I tried to escape,” she said.
“And [Ariel Castro] says, <<Now you’re going to be punished>>.”
Ariel Castro pleaded guilty to more than 900 counts, including kidnapping, torture and rape, and was sentenced to life in prison in a plea deal that spared him the death penalty.
He was found hanging in his prison cell on September 3, just three weeks into his sentence.
At Ariel Castro’s sentencing, Michelle Knight said capital punishment would have been “so much easier” than a life sentence for the 53-year-old.
Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus, have signed a book deal, according to CBS News.
An Ohio officials report note that two prison guards falsified logs documenting their observation of kidnapper Ariel Castro in the hours before he killed himself.
A state inquiry has found video footage indicating that two guards failed to make checks at least eight times on the day Ariel Castro was found hanged in his cell.
It also asks authorities to consider whether he died of auto-er**ic asphyxiation.
Ariel Castro, 53, was jailed for life for abducting three women – Michelle Knight, Gina DeJesus and Amanda Berry – over a decade.
He had raped them repeatedly at his home in Cleveland.
The Ohio Department for Rehabilitation and Correction published its findings on Thursday.
Two prison guards falsified logs documenting their observation of kidnapper Ariel Castro in the hours before he killed himself
The report said that prison guards had failed to check Ariel Castro at least eight times between 15:03 and 20:15 local time on 3 September. He was found hanged in his cell in Orient, Ohio, at 21:18.
The document said that “post log books were falsified” and that “there was no satisfactory verification process in place”.
It was also revealed that Ariel Castro “was found in his cell with a Bible open to John Chapters 2 and 3”.
“Additionally, he had pictures of his family out and arranged in a poster-board fashion. His pants and underwear were pulled down to his ankles.”
The convict left no suicide note.
The report said Ariel Castro’s intentions were unclear, however the facts had been “relayed to the Ohio State Highway Patrol for consideration of the possibility of auto-er**ic asphyxiation”.
Ariel Castro was supposed to have been checked by guards in his isolation cell in Orient, Ohio every 30 minutes.
He was taken off suicide watch in June after authorities determined he was not at risk of taking his own life.
They also denied Ariel Castro permission to receive independent mental counseling, even though he had previously contemplated suicide and was likely to suffer depression after his sentence, his lawyer Craig Weintraub told reporters last month.
The former school bus driver abducted Michelle Knight, 32, Amanda Berry, 27, and Gina DeJesus, 23, from the Cleveland streets between 2002-04.
The three women escaped from Castro’s home on May 6.
Ariel Castro was sentenced on August 1st to life imprisonment without parole plus 1,000 years.
In an interview soon after his conviction, Ariel Castro’s lawyers said that he fit the profile of someone with a sociopathic disorder.
Details about Ariel Castro’s suicide have revealed that he hanged himself in his prison cell and left notes with Bible verses and the names of his children and grandchildren written beside him.
A Bible open to the book of John was also found when prison guards discovered the Cleveland kidnapper’s lifeless body hanging from a hinge from his cell window using a bedsheet.
Franklin County Coroner Jan Gorniak said she’s awaiting toxicology results before issuing a final report on Ariel Castro’s September 3 suicide. The preliminary notes indicate he suffered from hardening of the arteries.
Ariel Castro, 53, was found at 9.20 p.m. the night of the suicide, about 30 minutes after he was last seen alive, according to the notes. He was pronounced dead at a hospital an hour and a half later.
The significance of why Ariel Castro had the Book of John open at the time of his death is unknown, but some of the more prominent stories told in that section of the Bible include descriptions of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus.
Ariel Castro hanged himself in his prison cell and left notes with Bible verses and the names of his children and grandchildren written beside him
Ariel Castro pleaded guilty last month to nearly 1,000 counts related to his imprisonment of three women in his Cleveland home for a decade, including aggravated murder – for forcing one of the victims to miscarry – kidnapping, rape and other crimes.
He kidnapped Michelle Knight, Gina DeJesus and Amanda Berry between 2002 and 2004 when they were 20, 14, and 16 years old.
Ariel Castro housed them in brutal conditions, restricting access to food and toilet facilities, chaining them and beating them repeatedly. He fathered a girl with Amanda Berry.
He was four weeks into a sentence of life without parole plus 1,000 years when he killed himself. His body was released to his son in Columbus.
Ariel Castro’s suicide is the subject of three prison reviews. Two, looking at the circumstances of his death and at mental and medical health treatment he received beforehand, are due at month’s end.
The study, due November 15, will also examine prison suicides over the past two years and make recommendations for any changes to the state’s policies and procedures for stopping inmates from killing themselves.
Two corrections officers who were in charge of watching Ariel Castro in prison were put on paid leave following his suicide.
Department of Rehabilitation and Correction spokeswoman JoEllen Smith says the two guards Caleb Ackley, 26, and 27-year-old Ryan Murphy were on duty in the Orient, Ohio prison unit where Ariel Castro hanged himself on September 3.
The two men are on paid administrative leave until internal investigations by the department and a criminal investigation by the state highway patrol are completed. Neither have any previous disciplinary notes in their files.
Two corrections officers who were in charge of watching Ariel Castro in prison were put on paid leave following his suicide
The officers haven’t been found guilty of any wrong doing but are on leave pending the review board’s decision, according to 19 Action News.
Ariel Castro, 53, hanged himself with a bed sheet earlier this month, a few weeks into a life sentence for imprisoning three women in his home for a decade.
He was serving a life sentence plus 1,000 years for abducting, raping, and holding hostage Michelle Knight, Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus.
Ariel Castro was being housed alone in an isolation unit for his protection, where he would be checked every 30 minutes.
Prison officials said Ariel Castro hanged himself with a sheet during a break between inspections.
Initially, Ariel Castro was being checked on every ten minutes, but this stopped in June after he was deemed not to be a risk to himself and taken off suicide watch.
An autopsy confirmed his death was suicide by hanging.
Ariel Castro’s attorneys tried unsuccessfully to have an independent psychological examination of the 53-year-old done at the Cuyahoga County Jail before he was turned over to state authorities following his conviction.
A full investigation is underway as to how Ariel Castro was able to take his own life while under the watchful eye of prison guards – who said he was always calm and cooperative with them.
Ariel Castro’s family is set to claim his body after he hanged himself in prison earlier this week.
Cleveland kidnapper Ariel Castro committed suicide on Tuesday by hanging himself with a bed sheet in his cell at an Ohio prison where he was serving a sentence of life plus 1,000 years for the abduction, torture and confinement of three women over about a decade.
“I spoke with the family today and I haven’t heard of any complications whatsoever regarding services and burial,” said Craig Weintraub, the defense attorney for Ariel Castro.
“It is all going to be private, the service and the burial,” he added.
Ariel Castro committed suicide on Tuesday by hanging himself with a bed sheet in his cell at an Ohio prison
Franklin County coroner Dr. Jan Gorniak said that she did not know where the body was going after being released from the coroner’s office.
Pedro Castro, the brother of Ariel who was briefly detained by police in May but released and cleared of any wrongdoing in Ariel’s crimes, said he did not want to comment on his suicide.
“Like any regular family they are mourning the loss of a loved one, even in light of his horrific crimes,” Craig Weintraub said.
Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight, who were held captive for a decade by Ariel Castro, are also declining to comment on his suicide.
The Jones Day law firm said in a statement on Wednesday that neither the women – Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight – nor their attorneys would be granting interviews.
Kathryn Joseph, an attorney representing victim Miss Knight, confirmed all three women were aware of the death.
The women have made a handful of public appearances since they were freed and Michelle Knight spoke at Ariel Castro’s sentencing last month.
Ariel Castro, who kept three women captive at his Cleveland home, should not have been taken off suicide watch in June before his conviction, his lawyer has said.
A post-mortem examination found Ariel Castro, 53, hanged himself in his cell, a month after being sentenced to life in jail.
“There’s still an obligation to prevent our inmates from committing suicide,” Ariel Castro’s lawyer Craig Weintraub said.
Ariel Castro held Michelle Knight, Gina DeJesus and Amanda Berry in chains at his Cleveland home for about a decade until May. He raped them repeatedly.
During his trial, Ariel Castro was taken off suicide watch after authorities determined he was not at risk of taking his own life.
On July 26, Ariel Castro pleaded guilty to over 900 separate charges, in a deal that protected him from the death penalty.
Ariel Castro was sentenced on August 1 to life imprisonment without parole plus 1,000 years.
Ariel Castro was taken off suicide watch after authorities determined he was not at risk of taking his own life
He hanged himself on September 3 in his isolation cell in Orient, Ohio.
The prosecutor who tried Ariel Castro called him a “coward” unable to withstand “a small portion” of what he had inflicted.
But Craig Weintraub told Cleveland newspaper the Plain Dealer: “He’s still a human being. This is still a civilized society.”
Prison authorities denied Ariel Castro permission to receive independent mental counselling, even though he had previously contemplated suicide and was likely to suffer depression after his life sentence, Craig Weintraub told Reuters news agency.
“We were never provided any explanation” for being denied independent mental health care, he said.
“We don’t know what the rationale was, to take him off suicide watch.”
Ariel Castro was placed in protective custody because of his notoriety. His cell was checked every 30 minutes.
The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction said its mental health staff found that Ariel Castro did not need to be placed on suicide watch, which would have meant a guard checked on him every 15 minutes, AFP news agency reports.
“Our… mental health staff determined this,” said spokeswoman Ricky Seyfang.
“Suicide watch was not required for him.”
The department said it would review the death and publish findings within a month.
The former school bus driver abducted Michelle Knight, 32, Amanda Berry, 27, and Gina DeJesus, 23, from the Cleveland streets between 2002 and 2004.
The three women escaped from Ariel Castro’s home on May 6.
In an interview last month after his conviction, Ariel Castro’s lawyers said that he fit the profile of someone with a sociopathic disorder.
Cleveland kidnapper Ariel Castro has died after being found hanging in his cell.
Prison officials said Ariel Castro, 53, died in hospital late on Tuesday, after prison medical staff failed to revive him.
Ariel Castro held three women against their will for about a decade until May this year. He kept his victims chained up and raped them.
He was sentenced on August 1st to life imprisonment without parole plus 1,000 years. His house was demolished.
The former school bus driver abducted Michelle Knight, 32, Amanda Berry, 27, and Gina DeJesus, 23, from the Cleveland streets between 2002 and 2004.
A spokeswoman for the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, JoEllen Smith, said: “He was housed in protective custody which means he was in a cell by himself and rounds are required every 30 minutes at staggered intervals.
“Upon finding inmate Castro, prison medical staff began performing life saving measures. Shortly after he was transported to [the prison medical facility] where he was pronounced dead at 10:52 pm.”
“A thorough review of this incident is under way,” she added.
Ariel Castro was placed in protective custody because of the notoriety of his case, but was not on suicide watch.
Gina DeJesus was 14 years old when she disappeared. Amanda Berry was 16, and Michelle Knight, 21. Ariel Castro also fathered a child with Amanda Berry, who was rescued after she escaped from the house and contacted police.
Ariel Castro has died after being found hanging in his cell
Ariel Castro was arrested the same day. He was charged with multiple counts of kidnapping, rape and aggravated murder.
At his sentencing, Ariel Castro told the court: “I’m not a violent predator… I’m not a monster, I’m a normal person.
“I’m just sick. I have an addiction, just like an alcoholic has an addiction.”
He said he never planned to abduct the women, but acted on the spur of the moment when he kidnapped his first victim. He said that he was “truly sorry” for what he had done.
But passing sentence, Judge Michael Russo told Castro there was no place in the world for people who enslave others.
Ariel Castro pleaded guilty to 937 charges related to the ordeal of his victims, including numerous rapes.
A deal with prosecutors spared him a possible death penalty for murder.
In a victim impact statement made to the sentencing court, Michelle Knight told how their captor went to church every Sunday, before coming home to “torture” the women.
“I spent 11 years in hell. Now your hell is just beginning,” she said.
“You will face hell for eternity.
“From this moment on, I will not let you define me, or affect who I am. I will live on, you will die a little every day.”
Michelle Knight was the only victim to speak in person at the hearing.
Ariel Castro lured one of them into his home with the promise of a puppy, and enticed another by inviting her to meet his daughter.
The judge banned Ariel Castro from ever seeing the daughter Jocelyn, now six years old.
In an interview last month after his conviction, Ariel Castro’s lawyers said that he fitted the profile of someone with a sociopathic disorder. They expressed hope that researchers would study him for clues that could be used to stop other predators.
The three women escaped from Ariel Castro’s home on May 6, when Amanda Berry broke part of a door and yelled to neighbors for help.
The two other women were so frightened that at first they were reluctant to leave the house despite the presence of a large number of police officers.
Cleveland kidnap victim Gina DeJesus has made her first public appearance since her dramatic escape at the annual Puerto Rican Parade and Latino Fest on Sunday.
Gina DeJesus, 23, looked relaxed as she waved a flag and threw treats to the crowd during the parade.
Although Gina DeJesus thanked her supporters in a video released by the three survivors a month ago, it is the first time she has been seen in public since just her escape from the house on May 6.
Her smiling, relaxed appearance came in stark contrast with the gaunt, shaky figure that appeared in police interview footage shortly after her escape three months ago.
The other survivors, Amanda Berry and Michelle Knight, have also stepped out in public in remarkable shows of courage.
Amanda Berry, 27, was pictured dancing at a Nelly concert last month, while 32-year-old Michelle Knight faced her captor, Ariel Castro, at his sentencing in court last week before returning to the home on Seymour Avenue on Friday to thank neighbors for their support.
Members of the community who attended the parade on Sunday said they became emotional when they saw Gina DeJesus, whose family is Puerto Rican. She was riding with relatives as part of the Janet Garcia for City Council group.
Gina DeJesus has made her first public appearance since her dramatic escape at the annual Puerto Rican Parade and Latino Fest
“It was very beautiful. I got chills when I saw her on top of the car,” Vivian Prez, who watched the parade, told Fox8.
Aida Cruz added: “I got emotional when I saw her. I got a granddaughter back there, looked like she was about to cry. It was just very emotional.”
The theme of the parade was “a celebration of renewed hope and community healing”, and many taking part in the festival held posters bearing the faces of people missing from the area.
Gina DeJesus’ father Felix also spoke at the Latino Fest with his wife by his side as he pleaded with the crowd to keep their ears and eyes open to help find other missing children in the state.
“I want to tell you Gina, Amanda and Michelle are doing beautiful,” he said.
“I got to tell you something. Our work is not done. We have more beautiful children out there that need our help.”
Community activist Angel Arroyo added: “On Friday, there were still 95 people in this city missing. Fifty people from the list are children, 45 people are adults and so we still have a lot right here.”
The three survivors released a video last month thanking people for their support and donations.
After their escape from Ariel Castro’s house, The Cleveland Courage Fund was set up to help them rebuild their lives and has so far raised more than $1.2 million.
“I would like to say thank you for the support,” Gina DeJesus said in the video, while the other two women spoke out at greater length.
Michelle Knight, Gina DeJesus, Amanda Berry and her six-year-old daughter fathered by Ariel Castro were saved from the house in Cleveland in May after Amanda Berry managed to escape, alert neighbors and call 911.
Michelle Knight today visited Ariel Castro’s house, the place where she spent more than a decade in captivity being raped and beaten, and watched it being torn to the ground.
Carrying a bunch of yellow balloons when she arrived at 2207 Seymour Street in Cleveland, Ohio, just before 7 a.m. this morning, Michelle Knight handed them out to neighbors to thank them for their support.
They then released them together as a symbol of hope and solidarity.
Wearing a pair of rosary beads around her neck, Michelle Knight said a prayer and hugged representatives from the county prosecutor’s office as she was accompanied down the street by a small group of Guardian Angels.
Michelle Knight, who has become an advocate for missing children, told the crowd she wanted to be there today because no one was there for her when she was missing.
“Dear Lord, give the missing people strength and power to know they are loved, we hear their cries, they are never forgotten in my heart,” Michelle Knight said.
“They are caterpillars waiting to be turned into butterflies.
“I want the people to know, including the mothers, that they can have strength, they can have hope, and their child will come back.”
The balloons represented children who have been abducted but were never found, Michelle Knight said, and carried with them the simple message that “there is hope for everyone”.
The crowd who gathered at the house erupted into cheers as the crane came smashing down on the roof.
Gina DeJesus’ aunt Peggy Arida was in the cab of the crane and took the first swing. Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus were not there.
Michelle Knight said organizers asked the families if someone wanted to begin the demolition and she agreed to do it, “because I had so much anger inside me. I wanted to do it. It felt great. It felt like a house of horrors coming down”.
Michelle Knight visited Ariel Castro’s house and watched it being torn to the ground
Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy J. McGinty said at a press conference outside the home: “For ten years this house was a secret prison of a psychopath but after today it will be gone.
“He’s going to sit in the bowels of prison now the rest of his life, the rest of his days, in fear himself of the other prisoners.”
Officials will grind Ariel Castro’s house to dust to make the place where unimaginable tortures took place completely disappear.
Authorities revealed they will be using the $22,000 found in Ariel Castro’s washing machine to tear down the house and put a symbol of hope in its place.
The money was offered to the girls but they said they wanted it to go to the neighborhood.
The house was torn down as part of a plea deal that spared Ariel Castro from a possible death sentence.
Ariel Castro had such an emotional attachment to the home that he broke down in tears when he had to sign over the property deed, ABC reports, saying it was wrong to tear it down because he had so many happy memories there.
His family members were allowed to take approved personal items from the home on Monday. Workers emptied the house of furniture and other belongings Tuesday.
The girls – and the community – will decide what to put at the spot once it is torn down.
The razing comes less than a week after Ariel Castro was sentenced to life in prison without parole, plus 1,000 years, for holding Michelle Knight, Gina DeJesus and Amanda Berry captive in his home on Cleveland’s west side.
A steady stream of on-lookers drove by the house before Cleveland police blocked off the street to traffic.
Google had already “disappeared” the house on its Street View features since yesterday. Searches for the address now show just a blurred box instead of the house.
The city of Cleveland seized the home and donated it to the Cuyahoga Land Bank, a non-profit organization that fights urban blight in the city.
The Land Bank has not revealed its plans for the property.
Felix DeJesus said he and his wife and daughter Gina will watch the house come down.
“Thank God it will be over with. And tomorrow I will be there to see this house come down,” he told WOIO-TV.
On July 26, Ariel Castro – a former elementary school bus driver – pleaded guilty to more than 900 counts of kidnapping, rape and assault and was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Pictures emerged from inside the home of chains and restraints and makeshift alarms that he used to keep the young women bent to his sadistic will.
Neighbors are happy to see the house torn down.
“I want things to be like it were, quiet and peaceful. But to see that house go down it really will be a relief because I am so sick and tired of looking at it,” Henrietta Bell told the Cleveland TV station.
The land bank’s president, Gus Frangos said that the organization is trying to keep away scavengers who might try to sell the rubble as what is known as “murderabilia”.
In 2011, a website that sells items related to high-profile crimes put on sale 1-gram packages of soil from the home of Cleveland serial killer Anthony Sowell before a city agency razed the house.
Anthony Sowell was convicted that year of killing 11 women and was sentenced to death. His case is under appeal.
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