Updated: 10th May 2013
Horrifying details emerge of Cleveland kidnap ordeal
A view outside the house where three teen girls were held captive for about 10 years in Cleveland, Ohio, before one of them found a way to escape (Photo: Screen grab from YouTube)
(CLEVELAND, OHIO) A baby delivered on Christmas Day by a captive under threat of death, multiple miscarriages, repeated rapes and savage beatings – all took place over a decade within the walls of an American home.
Just days after three women and a six-year-old girl were rescued from Ariel Castro’s house on Seymour Avenue in working class west Cleveland, horrifying allegations are emerging about the 10 years they spent as his prisoners.
On Monday, he finally let his guard down, forgetting to padlock a heavy door before leaving to eat at a McDonald’s, according to an initial police report leaked to several local media outlets.
This mug shot courtesy of Cuyahoga County Jail shows suspect Ariel Castro, 52, in Cleveland, Ohio. The unemployed American bus driver was ordered held on a US$8 million (S$9.9 million) bond on 9 May 2013, on charges he kidnapped and raped three women and held them in his home for a decade (Photo: AFP / Cuyahoga County Jail)
Police have confirmed that the leak appears to be genuine, and Cleveland’s Mayor Frank Jackson held a news conference Thursday to urge officers to protect the confidentiality of the investigation and shield the women’s privacy.
Amanda Berry, who was kidnapped in 2003 the eve of her 17th birthday, was able to take advantage of Castro’s slip, but not before overcoming an agonising moment of doubt – was her captor “testing” her? Was he waiting to pounce?
Thankfully, for her six-year-old daughter Jocelyn and two fellow captives, she decided to risk it.
She pulled back the heavy door only to find an exterior metal screen door still locked. She screamed for help.
A neighbour heard her desperate cries and rushed to her aid. Once she and Jocelyn were free, she called the police. Officers raced to the scene, broke down the door and started searching the house.
SECOND AND THIRD VICTIMS
As they neared the top of the steps on the second floor, Michelle Knight – who was kidnapped in 2002 at the age of 20 – “ran and threw herself into (Officer) Espada’s arms,” the police report said, according to WKYC news.
She began to sob, saying: “You saved me, you saved me.”
The officers asked her if there was anyone else upstairs, and that was when Gina DeJesus, kidnapped in 2004 at the age of 14, came out of the bedroom.
When the women began to recount their story to investigators, the full torment of their captivity became clear.
PREGNANT AND PUNCHED
Knight told police that she had got pregnant “at least five times” during nearly 12 years of captivity, CBS news reported, citing the police report.
“Ariel would make her abort the baby,” the police report read. “He starved her for at least two weeks and then repeatedly punched her in stomach until she miscarried.”
Castro brought in a plastic kiddie pool and forced Berry to give birth in it in order to contain the inevitable mess, the women told police.
He also forced Knight to assist and told her “if baby died… he’d kill her”.
At one point on that terrifying 25 December 2006, the newborn girl stopped breathing and Knight “breathed for her”, giving mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.
Berry told police that Castro would sometimes take her daughter with him when he left the house, but made sure she didn’t know Knight or DeJesus’s real names to avoid raising any suspicions.
The women said they were chained in the basement during their early years of captivity, but eventually were allowed to live unchained upstairs behind locked doors.
A friend of Castro, local musician Ricky Sanchez, told AFP that he had recently visited the house and seen a young girl.
“Okay, 45 minutes after I was there last Thursday, I saw that little girl coming towards me from the kitchen area,” he said.
“As soon as he saw her, she was walking towards the door, he came out right away and grabbed her by the hand and introduced her to me as his granddaughter.”
Police are still unsure how it was that none of the people who would visit the unassuming house at 2207 Seymour – including his family – realised that anything was amiss.
NOISES IN BASEMENT
“Ariel kept everybody at a distance,” deputy police chief Ed Tomba said.
“The control that he may have had over those girls, we don’t know that yet. I think that’s going to take us a long time to figure that out.”
Sanchez said that he had heard noises from Castro’s basement.
“I ask him for a minute ‘What is that? What is that noise?’ ‘Oh, that’s just those dogs that I have down here’,” Sanchez recalled.
“When I was about to leave, I tried to open the door and I couldn’t even, because there’s so many locks in there. I mean what? ‘I can’t get out of here! Would you please help me!’,” he said.
“He says, ‘Oh I got it for you’, and then he opened it for me. The front door,” he said.
Credits: InSing Singapore
Spotted on ChannelNewsAsia today:
Three women, missing for years, found in US home
CHICAGO: Three women who had been missing for a decade — two of whom disappeared as teenagers — were found alive in a house in Cleveland, police in the US state of Ohio said Monday.
The dramatic discovery drew hundreds of cheering people to the usually quiet, residential street to celebrate that girls long feared dead were very much alive. The details of the trauma they may have suffered in captivity were not yet known, but it appeared that at least one of the girls had borne a child during her captivity.
A neighbor spotted Amanda Berry screaming for help on Monday afternoon. “I heard screaming… And I see this girl going nuts trying to get outside of the house,” Charles Ramsey told the local ABC affiliate.
“I go on the porch, and she said ‘Help me get out. I’ve been here a long time.‘” Ramsey said he tried to get her out through the door but could not pull it open, so he kicked out the bottom and she crawled through “carrying a little girl.”
Berry went into a neighboring home and called police, begging them to come as soon as they could “before he gets back.” “I’m Amanda Berry. I’ve been kidnapped. I’ve been missing for 10 years. I’m free. I’m here now,” Berry said, according to the recording of her frantic call to 911.
She told the dispatcher that the man who had held her captive was called Ariel Castro. When police arrived she told them there were two other captives in the home. “All three women, Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michele Knight, seem to be in good health,” Cleveland police said in a statement. “A 52-year-old Hispanic male has been placed under arrest regarding this incident.”
Berry was last seen at approximately 7:40 pm on April 21, 2003, after leaving work at a fast food restaurant that was just a few blocks from her home. She was 16 when she disappeared, according to the FBI.
Her mother, Louwanna Miller, passed away in March of 2006, WKYC news reported. DeJesus was 14 when she disappeared while walking home from school on April 2, 2004. She was last seen at a pay telephone booth, sometime between 2:45 pm and 3:00 pm that day, according to the FBI.
Knight, who was 21 at the time of her disappearance, was last seen at a cousin’s house on August 23, 2002, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
Kayla Rogers, 23, attended school with DeJesus and joined the crowd gathered near the house on Seymore Avenue where her friend had been held captive. “They don’t find people who go missing, you know,” Rogers, 23, told the Plain Dealer. “I’m at a loss for words.” Rogers said she only attended one vigil over the years, because it was too painful.
Neighbor Charlie Czorb said he was stunned by how long the women had lived at the house undetected. “This is our own backyard,” Czorba told the paper. “These girls were locked up in our own backyard.”
Berry’s cousin, Tasheena Mitchell, 26, said she didn’t believe her brother at first when he called to tell her that her best friend had been found alive.
She’d had her hopes dashed by false reports before. But this time, it was true. So she rushed to the hospital in hopes of confirming it with her own eyes. “She was my best friend,” Mitchell told the Plain Dealer. A friend interrupted her, “She’s alive. She is your best friend.” “You’re right,” Mitchell continued. “She is my best friend. I’m so nervous. I’m so excited. They won’t let me inside. But I will stay here all night if I have to.”
An emergency room doctor who treated the three women said they were in fair condition and were being evaluated. “This isn’t the ending we usually hear to these stories so we’re very happy for them,” Gerald Maloney told reporters.
And more details here about the 3 alleged kidnappers:
US police probe how kidnap hidden for 10 years
The three Ohio women were abducted separately in 2002, 2003 and 2004 but were found together in the home of 52-year-old Ariel Castro.
Castro and his brothers — Pedro, 54, and Onil, 50 — have been detained. Police mugshots revealed them to be thick-set men with grey beards.
“For Amanda’s family, for Gina’s family, for Michelle’s family, prayers have finally been answered,” FBI special agent Steve Anthony told reporters.
“The nightmare is over. These three young ladies have provided us with the ultimate definition of survival and perseverance. The healing can now begin.”
Cleveland Director of Public Safety Martin Flask said police had not been alerted to anything untoward happening at the house on Seymour Avenue.
Deputy police chief Ed Tomba said: “Obviously, there was a long period of time where nobody saw them. So we have to wait until we interview them and hopefully they are going to tell us exactly what went on in there.”
“They were the only ones there along with the suspects,” he said, adding that the women seemed to be in fairly good health.
Read the rest of the article from ChannelNewsAsia HERE.
It’s scary huh? To know your neighbours may be hiding from you..cos you never know! On another note, it’s really a blessing that the 3 girls are finally free from their captivity and I hope they weren’t too traumatized.
God bless them!