3 Missing Women Found in Cleveland After 10 Years in Captivity
Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight, all of whom disappeared between 2002 and 2004 in Cleveland, have been found alive, after being kidnapped imprisoned in a house on Cleveland’s West Side.
The women are all alive and safe and in fair condition, according to Dr. Gerald Maloney, an emergency room doctor at MetroHealth Medical Center, where they are receiving treatment. They have been reunited with their families, who are calling it a miracle.
Knight went missing on August 23, 2002; she was 19 at the time. Berry disappeared in 2003, when she was 16. Georgina “Gina” DeJesus vanished a year later, at age 14.
“Help me, I’m Amanda Berry,” Berry said when she called 911 after finally escaping the house. “I’ve been kidnapped. And I’ve been missing for 10 years. And I’m here. I’m free now.” (You can hear the 911 call here.)
Police have arrested three brothers in the investigation, one of whom, Ariel Castro, owns the house where the women were discovered. Castro, 52, and his brothers, Pedro, 50, and Onil, 54, are being questioned by the FBI, which is also collecting evidence at the house. Castro is a former school bus driver who was arrested, but not indicted, for domestic violence in 1993.
The women were rescued by a man who lived next door, named Charles Ramsey, who said he heard screaming coming from the house. He and a friend, Angel Cordero, broke down the door, and out came Berry—along with a 6-year-old child (though it is unclear as of yet whether the child is Berry’s). According to Ramsey:
I’m eating my McDonald’s, I come outside, and I see this girl going nuts, trying to get out of the house. So I go on the porch. I got on the porch and she said, ‘Help me get out. I’ve been here a long time.’ I figured it was a domestic violence dispute. So I open the door. And we can’t get in that way ’cause of how the door is, it’s so much that a body can’t fit through, only your hand. So we kicked the bottom. And she comes out with a little girl and she says, ‘Call 911. My name is Amanda Berry.’
Here is the full interview he gave to WEWS:
In another bizarre twist, the son of the man who owned the house wrote an article about the missing DeJesus for Cleveland’s Plain Press in 2004, when he was a journalism student at Bowling Green University. Anthony Castro told WKYC-TV, “This is beyond comprehension. … I’m truly stunned right now.”
Police have not begun to question the women about their ordeal, choosing instead to give them time to recover and meet with their families. Deputy Police Chief Ed Tomba said at a news conference on Tuesday morning, “Right now, we want to let them spend some time with their families and take this process very, very slowly and respectful for their families and the young girls’ needs.”
Family and friends of the rescued women waited outside the hospital on Tuesday, overjoyed by the news they had been waiting so long to hear. “I never forgot about her, ever,” said Kayla Rogers about her friend, Gina DeJesus. “This is amazing. This is a celebration. I’m so happy. I just want to see her walk out those doors so I can hug her.”