Found Alive

Three long-missing women have been rescued from a west side home following years of captivity

Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight, each missing since 2004 or before, were found alive at a home on Seymour Avenue, just off I-90.

Ariel Castro, 52, the homeowner, was arrested in connection with the news. His brothers, Pedro Castro and Onil Casto, were also arrested. A search warrant was executed late Monday night at the house.

All three women were reportedly coherent and seemingly healthy. Unconfirmed reports from family members at the scene, which police and doctors have not commented on, add that at least one and possibly as many as five babies were born during the women's captivity. A six-year-old child left the house with Berry as police arrived.

Immediately following the news, hundreds congregated in the streets around the neighborhood to celebrate. Hundreds more gathered outside MetroHealth Medical Center, where the women are being treated.

"Words can't even explain," Tasheena Mitchell, Berry's cousin, told Scene. "I feel blessed. I'm ecstatic." She added that there was never a day where she stopped thinking of her cousin. She never gave up hope on finding her cousin, she added.

"I think about her everyday."

Similarly, a common refrain resounded in discussions outside the hospital all night: "Cleveland never gave up hope."

A neighbor chimed in: "Prayers do come true. It's surreal."

Berry was last seen during a shift at Burger King in 2003. She was 16. Mitchell and other family members saw her earlier during the day she went missing and were planning on meeting with her after her shift.

DeJesus has been missing since April 2, 2004, when she was last seen walking home from Wilbur Wright Middle School. She was 14.

Knight was last seen Aug. 23, 2002. She was 21.

When Berry escaped from the house, she called 9-1-1.

Gerald Maloney, who works in the Emergency Room at MetroHealth, offered few words during the evening's press conference. He explained that the women were safe and speaking. "We're assessing their needs. The appropriate specialists are evaluating them now," he said. The three women were released from the hospital Tuesday morning.

"This isn't the ending we usually get to these stories," he noted. Cheers erupted from the crowd gathered outside the hospital, though little else in the way of concrete information came from the conference. A statement from the hospital added: "The women have had a preliminary physical examination and are in fair condition. They have been reunited with their families. MetroHealth joins our community in grateful appreciation for their safe return."

Strangely enough, reports indicate that Ariel Castro's son, Anthony Castro, penned an article in 2004 for the Plain Press on the girls' disappearances. He was a Bowling Green State University journalism student at the time, and he used "Ariel Castro" as a byline for the story. News originally spread that the suspect himself had written the article.

Mayor Frank Jackson offered a statement on the city's behalf: "I am thankful that Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michele Knight have been found alive. We have many unanswered questions regarding this case and the investigation will be ongoing. Again, I am thankful that these three young ladies are found and alive."

The Cleveland Police Department will hold a news conference in the morning.

WEWS tonight posted an interview with Charles Ramsey, a neighbor who found Berry as she was running out of the house. (Video embedded below.) “I heard screaming…And I see this girl going nuts trying to get outside,” Ramsey said. “I go on the porch and she said, ‘Help me get out. I’ve been here a long time.’"

Read the original Cleveland Scene story here.

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Eric Sandy

Eric Sandy is an award-winning Cleveland-based journalist. For a while, he was the managing editor of Scene. He now contributes jam band features every now and then.
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