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2 police calls at house where 3 kidnapped women found

May 7, 2013 at 9:55 AM   |   Comments

CLEVELAND, May 7 (UPI) -- Cleveland Mayor Frank G. Jackson said Tuesday police responded twice to the address where three kidnapped women were held for a decade.

The three women -- Amanda Berry, 27, Gina DeJesus, 23, and Michelle Knight, 32 -- were found Monday in a house in a Cleveland neighborhood where they apparently were held captive. A 6-year-old child police identified as Berry's daughter also was rescued. They were all taken to MetroHealth Medical Center for evaluation.

Police held three brothers: Ariel Castro, 52, who owned and lived in the house, and his brothers Pedro, 54, and Onil, 50.

FBI Special-Agent-in-Charge Stephen Anthony described the case as "horrific."

"The nightmare is over," Anthony said. "These three young ladies have provided us with the ultimate definition of survival and perseverence. ...

"The families never gave up hope and neither did law enforcement. ... Yes, law enforcement professionals do cry."

"We are happy to announce that Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight have been found and are alive. We're happy they've returned to us," Jackson told a news conference.

Police said they have yet to determine whether the women, who were all in their teens or early 20s when they were abducted, were held as sex slaves.

Jackson said police were called to the address where the women were held in 2000 and 2004.

Police said Castro reported a street fight in front of the house, which currently is in foreclosure, in March 2000 but no arrests were made. In January 2004, police followed up a complaint filed with the Department of Children and Family Services after Castro inadvertently left a child on a school bus.

"Due to Amanda's brave actions these women are alive today," Police Chief Michael McGrath said.

Police said they have yet to fully debrief the victims.

McGrath said investigators were at the house until 5 a.m. Tuesday and the scene will continue to be processed in the next several days.

Berry broke through the bottom half of a door and crawled through, accompanied by the child. Police then rescued DeJesus and Knight about 6 p.m.

Records indicated Castro was arrested for domestic violence in 1993, but wasn't indicted, The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer reported.

Berry called police Monday afternoon and told a dispatcher she was alive and free after having been kidnapped about a decade ago. DeJesus was reported missing in 2004 and Knight vanished Aug. 22, 2002.

Dr. Gerald Maloney, an emergency room doctor at MetroHealth, said Monday during a news conference the three women were in fair condition.

"They are able to speak, they are safe, and hospital staff are assessing their needs and evaluating if they will spend the night," Maloney said. "This is good. This is not the ending we usually see from these stories."

At the hospital, passing drivers honked in a show of support, The Plain Dealer said. People who gathered at the hospital hugged each other and cried.

"They don't find people who go missing, you know," said Kayla Rogers, 23, who attended elementary and middle school with DeJesus. "I'm at a loss for words."

Castro's uncle, Julio Castro, who owns a store in the neighborhood told The Plain Dealer he had mixed emotions.

"For me, it's bad on one side and good on the other side," the uncle said.

Charlie Czorba, who lives in the neighborhood, expressed shock at how long the women lived in the house unnoticed.

"This is our own backyard," he said. "These girls were locked up in our own backyard."

Neighbor Charles Ramsey said he heard a girl screaming, "Help, help me out." He said he called emergency services.

Ramsey said he kicked in the bottom of the door as Castro fled, The Plain Dealer said. Berry crawled out.

Police arrested Castro at a nearby fast food restaurant.

© 2013 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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