Wednesday, 8th May 2013
THREE GIRLS HELD CAPTIVE IN CLEVELAND FINALLY RESCUED - In what can only be called a “miracle” three young women who disappeared within three years of each other have been found and rescued. The women were abducted one by one, with Michelle Knight being the first in 2002 at the age of 19, second was Gina Dejesus in 2003 at the tender age of 14 and finally Amanda Berry who was 16, in 2004. Taken to a home in a close knit neighborhood of Cleveland, they were kept secluded in the basement of the home and watched closely by their captors, three brothers; Pedro, Onil and Ariel Castro, all now in their 50′s.
Police tape marks the home where the women were kept captive–the Castro brothers
How were Michelle, Gina and Amanda able to escape?
It was Amanda who made the attempt to flee the home only to find that the door was blocked and rigged to only allow a small opening. She attracted the attention of a neighbor, Charles Ramsey with her yelling and screaming. Shocked to learn that the woman yelling was Amanda Berry, he knew he needed to get her out quickly and soon realized that he too, would be needing help and enlisted other neighbors who together broke open the door allowing Amanda and her six year old daughter to escape. Not realizing there were other women trapped inside, he led her next door, where Amanda made the 9-1-1 emergency call to police herself.
(Amanda’s call to 9-1-1)
When each of these young ladies were abducted, Cleveland police had no clues to follow, no eye witnesses or evidence trail. Despite the difference in their ages at the time of the abductions, each girl was labeled as a runaway, so no Amber Alert was issued and there was no ongoing police investigation. Over the years tips have been phoned in, but nothing ever came of them or led police to think that these abductions were connected in any way or that the women being held together.
The girls and their memories were kept alive by their families who never gave up hope; not even after an inmate provided police a false burial tip location where one of the bodies were supposedly buried or during a TV interview when one of the families were told by a psychic that their daughter was dead.
Gina’s father Felix is holding a banner showing his daughter’s photograph, standing by a memorial in his living room
Why did no one in this neighborhood suspect what was going on inside the home?
Ariel Castro moved into the area back in 1992 and kept to himself, keeping the shades drawn and mainly leaving the home only at night. In 1993 he was arrested for domestic violence, but a grand jury dropped the charges and he pled guilty to disorderly conduct. Amazingly too, Castro’s son Anthony was a journalism student back in 2004 and wrote about the disappearance of Gina DeJesus, and how it changed the neighborhood; writing that everyone feels a connection with her mother and that it was a shame that it took this event for her to get to know her neighbors; even going so far as to quote her mother.
The men did not socialize much with the neighborhood and although one brother played in a band, none of the other band members suspected a thing. Charles Ramsey, the neighbor who rescued Amanda, says he’d barbecued with Castro and never imagined anything odd or of this magnitude was going on. He gives his side of this dramatic turn of events:
This world is crazy, and there are many things that are going on that do not seem to make sense. How well do you know your neighbors, your co-workers or even your family? Every time there is news that centers around one or a few individuals, friends and family only reveal the good side of their character. We hear that they were quiet and kept to themselves or that they were very popular and hard workers. How is it that they hide the crazy, or is it that we choose to believe they are not that crazy?
For ten years these young women, who were just children when it all began, have been left thinking that they would never see home again. Never felt a hug from their parents, got to date or go to college. Part of their life has been ripped away from them. To have been at the mercy of these three grown men, locked away from life as we know it has taken its toll on each of them.
For Amanda Berry, her mother died believing that Amanda would one day come home but not living to see it or her granddaughter.
Michelle Knight is now 31 and missed out on her twenties. For most of us, that was the highlight of our lives-for her it is gone.
And Gina Dejesus, who was only 14 will need to get re-acquainted with family and friends, many of whom have said that they want to “hug her and never let go.” One of her aunts had this to say:
“This should serve as a wakeup call and reminder for neighbors to look out for one another, specifically one another’s children. We need to watch out for all kids … really, watch who your neighbor is, because you never know. … we have to take care of everybody’s children.”
Tears of sorrow have marked each birthday and anniversary of their disappearance, along with holidays and family gatherings as these families held prayer and candlelight vigils and posted flyers to serve as reminders to this neighborhood of the loss that has been suffered. Today, those flyers came down as prayers of joy and gratitude went up.
Was this a miracle or pure luck that these girls were finally rescued? Have your say… leave your comments below.