Cleveland Kidnapping: What We Know So Far


cleveland-ohio-kidnappingOn Monday night, Amanda Berry, 27, ran out of a house in Cleveland and into the arms of a passing man and told him who she was and that she had been missing for 10 years. On a chilling 911 call, Berry told the dispatcher, “Help me, I am Amanda Berry … I have been kidnapped and I have been missing for 10 years and I’m here. I’m free now.” She identified her captor as Ariel Castro, and when police arrived they found two other women, Gina DeJesus, now 23, and Michele Knight, now 32. Here’s what we know so far about the case.

Who Was Rescued

Berry disappeared on April 21, 2003, at the age of 17. She had called her sister to tell her that she had gotten a ride home from her job at a Burger King, and her family had long kept the search for her alive. DeJesus was just 14 when she vanished on April 2, 2004, while she was walking home from school. Earlier this year, a prison inmate was sentenced for telling police Berry’s remains were buried under a Cleveland lot. The DeJesus family had held a vigil in April, with her mother telling WKYC “she’s still out there, and we need to bring her home.” DeJesus’s family had long believed their daughter had been kidnapped as part of a trafficking ring. Knight, 32, disappeared in 2000, but because she was 20 at the time of her disappearance, police believed that she had run away. It had been assumed that she ran away because she was angry at losing custody of her son, Knight’s grandmother said. Also found in the house was a 6-year-old girl, whom Berry gave birth to while in captivity. It is unknown who the father is or where she was born. All three women and the girl are listed as in good health, and were released from the hospital Tuesday morning.

How They Were Found

Police said that Berry somehow decided that May 6 would be her last day living in captivity. The women were found at a house on Seymour Avenue, which is only a few miles from where they disappeared. According to police, Berry broke the lock on the door at Seymour Avenue. Aneighbor said she saw an arm break through the door and someone yelled for help.

Neighbor Charles Ramsey, who lived across the street, said he heard screaming and “saw this girl going nuts trying to get out of this house.” The girl said, “Help me get out, I’ve been here a long time” and that the door was rigged to trap people inside. Eventually Ramsey was able to free her, and he saw Berry with a little girl. At first, Ramsey though it was a domestic violence incident. He couldn’t believe it when he saw what was actually going on at this house.

“We saw this dude every day,” Ramsey said. He said there was “no clue that girl-or anyone else-was in that house against their will.” Ramsey took Berry and her daughter to his house to call 911, where she revealed who she was-and that there were two other women at the house. Ramsey said that a man, later identified as Ariel Castro, ran away after Ramsey helped Berry escape.

Who Are the Suspects?

In her 911 call, Berry identified her captor as Ariel Castro, 52, a former bus driver. She also begged the dispatcher to send someone fast “before he comes back.” Records show that Castro has lived there since 1992, and a Ohio school district confirmed he worked as a bus driver for the district. Police confirmed on Tuesday that they had arrested Castro at a local McDonald’s, and that they had also arrested two of his brothers, Pedro, 54, and Oneil, 50. The brothers’ involvement in the case is unclear. Castro had previously been accused of attacking his former wife, Grimilda Figueroa. According to a filing in Cuyahoga County Domestic Relations Court, Figueroa suffered two broken noses, broken ribs, a blood clot on the brain, dislocated two shoulders and had two teeth knocked out. Castro did not have visitation rights to their children, but Fiueroa’s attorney noted that Castro “frequently abducts the daughters and keeps them from their mother.”

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