Three women freed from Cleveland home 10 years after kidnappings

Alexis Levinson Political Reporter
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A decade after they disappeared, three Ohio women were found and rescued from a house where they had apparently been held captive for years.

Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus, and Michelle Knight were rescued Monday afternoon in Cleveland, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported, and their identities were confirmed as the three missing women. They were taken to MetroHealth Medical Center. Also found with them was a little girl, who police said Tuesday morning they believed to be Berry’s daughter.

The 52 year old man who owns the house where they were found, Ariel Castro, was arrested, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer. CNN reported that two of Castro’s brothers were also arrested. The Cleveland Division of Police identifies the three suspects as “Hispanic males, ages 50, 52 and 54,” and at a press conference Tuesday morning confirmed that they were Castro and his two brothers.

Monday afternoon, a neighbor of Castro’s, Charles Ramsay, “heard screaming.”

“I see this girl going nuts trying to get out of the house, so I go on the porch … and she says ‘Help me get out, I’ve been in here a long time,'” Ramsay recounted in an interview with the local ABC affiliate.

“She comes out with a little girl, and she says ‘call 911, my name is Amanda Berry,'” he says.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer has audio of Berry’s hysterical call to 911, in which she tells them, “Help me. I’m Amanda Berry. I’ve been kidnapped, I’ve been missing for ten years, and I’m here. I’m free now.”

Ramsay said the identity of the woman he had just rescued not sink in immediately, but he called the police, and put her on the phone. When the police arrived, Ramsay said Berry told them she was not the only girl in the house, and they went in and emerged with Knight and DeJesus.

Ramsay said he had “no clue” that his neighbor was hiding the girls.

Knight went missing in 2002 at age 21. She was suspected to have run away. Berry disappeared in 2003, one day before her 17th birthday. DeJesus went missing in 2004 at age 14. Berry and DeJesus went missing five blocks apart from one another, and law enforcement had previously speculated that the two disappearances were connected.

Cleveland Police Department Deputy Chief Ed Tomba told reporters Monday night that the three brothers who had been arrested were being held in the city jail and would probably be charged in the next 36 hours. Tomba said a search warrant has been obtained for the house in which the women were held, and the FBI is executing the search.

Tuesday morning, Cleveland Police Deputy Chief Ed Tomba said that for now, there was “no indication that” the kidnappings were a part of a plot “bigger than our neighborhood.”

Police said they were relying on the women who were held captive to answer remaining questions about what exactly happened to them for the past 10 years, and asked the media to patient about getting the answers, saying the primary concern was for the “emotional wellbeing” of the women.

“The real hero here is Amanda. She’s the one who got this rolling,” Tomba said Tuesday. “We’re just following her lead.”

*This story has been updated.

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