Three Women Missing a Decade Found Alive

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Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight, three Cleveland, Ohio, women, who had been missing for over a decade, were found alive held captive together, after a stunning escape.

Berry, now 27, is credited by FBI agent Vicki Anderson as a “hero” for staging the daring fight for freedom, after spotting a neighbor and banging on the door in an effort to break it down. The neighbor, Charles Ramsey, also considered a hero, who, without thought, came to the aid of the unknown female occupants.

Berry was frantic, but composed, and very aware of her situation, as she explained to the 911 operator her name and that she had been missing for ten years. 

The women, who were held within five miles of where they were each abducted separately, on the west side of Cleveland, within a year of each other, were immediately taken to a local hospital for evaluation and held overnight for observation and evaluation. A child, later identified as the daughter of Ms. Berry, was also transported to the hospital.

Berry, 16 at the time of her abduction, was last seen April 21, 2003 after she called her sister to tell her she was getting a ride home from her job at a local Burger King. Gina DeJesus, 14 at the time of her abduction, was taken on her way on from school in 2004. Michelle Knight, 20 when she was abducted, was last seen August 2002.

The nightmare the women endured in the house of horrors on Seymour Street, where houses are separated by a sidewalk, are the same tactics used in prisoner of war camps to destroy the spirit and keep the captive mentally controlled and in submission.

Neighbors of the accused, explained that over the last ten years they had made several phone calls to police regarding suspicious behavior, including an eyewitness account of a female chained by a dog leash, naked, forced on all fours to crawl in the dirt, as well as a woman pounding on the window screaming.

The women knew if caught attempting to escape they would be beaten possibly to death and still, freedom was worth it. From published accounts, Ms. Knight having endured years of facial and head trauma has hearing loss and facial bone fractures. The women suffered through extreme, uncivilized and barbaric physical and mental torture designed to strip them of their dignity, identity and dehumanize them. The women became impregnated, endured beatings during the pregnancies which resulted in miscarriages.

According to media accounts the FBI has removed bags of evidence from the west side house that contain tape, chains and other bondage items. The women, according to media accounts were chained to walls, tortured and held in separate bedrooms and routinely dragged to the basement a dungeon pain.  

Through the years of horrific abuse, physical, emotional, sexual, the women never lost sight of who they were before the kidnapping; the captors were not able to break their spirits.

The three men arrested were homeowner Ariel Castro, 52 and his brothers, Pedro Castro, 54, and Onil Castro, 50. Violence is not new to the Castro family as Emily Castro, Ariel Castro’s daughter, is serving a 25 year sentence in an Indiana prison for the 2007 murder of her 11-month-old daughter.  

The three Castro brothers are being held without bond awaiting arraignment and are expected to be charged as early as Wednesday.

The depravity of the abusers is, unfortunately, common place in our society. The outcome, however, is not.

The women have since been reunited with family members.

Sources: Cleveland Plain Dealer, The Huffington Post, The New York Daily News, The Guardian

 

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