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3 girls kidnapped a decade ago found safe

CLEVLAND — Three kidnapped girls were found safe after being kidnapped decades ago. Three brothers in their 50s were arrested.

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CLEVELAND (CNN) — The owner of a Cleveland home where three women were rescued from a decade in captivity has been charged with kidnapping and rape, but his brothers had nothing to do with the case, authorities announced Wednesday.

arielcastroAriel Castro, a 52-year-old former school bus driver, has been charged with three counts of rape and four counts of kidnapping, City Chief Assistant Prosecutor Victor Perez said.

Castro was arrested Monday, along with his brothers, Pedro Castro, 54, and Onil Castro, 50. But investigators have found no evidence that the brothers were involved in the abductions of Amanda Berry, Michelle Knight and Gina DeJesus or knew they were held in their brother’s house, Perez and Deputy Police Chief Ed Tomba told reporters.

“Ariel kept everybody at a distance,” Tomba said.

The three women and a 6-year-old daughter Berry gave birth to while in captivity were freed Monday after neighbors heard Berry calling for help. Knight had been missing since 2002, Berry since 2003 and DeJesus since 2004.

They have told investigators they left Castro’s house only twice in during their captivity, Tomba said: “They left the house and went into the garage in disguise.”

Castro has waived his rights and is cooperating with investigators, Tomba said. Investigators don’t consider him a suspect in any other disappearances.

According to FOX8 in Cleveland, documents released Wednesday revealed Castro lured Michelle into his vehicle in 2002; then Amanda in 2003; and Gina in 2004.  After he allegedly kidnapped them, the documents claimed he took the victims back to his home on Seymour Ave.

Tomba said nothing leads authorities to believe that the women knew Ariel Castro before the kidnappings.

Castro is scheduled to be arraigned Thursday morning.

Knight, now 32, remained in a Cleveland hospital in good condition, but Berry and DeJesus returned to their homes Wednesday.

Well-wishers cheered as a gray van carrying Berry, 27, and her daughter back to her family home. The porch was decorated with balloons and stuffed animals and draped with a red banner that read, “Welcome home Amanda.”

“We are so happy to have Amanda and her daughter home,” her sister, Beth Serrano, told reporters. “I want to thank the public and media for their support and courage over the years.”

A similar scene played out at the DeJesus home. Family members embraced their long-lost relative, wearing a neon-green hooded sweatshirt, was escorted into the home she hadn’t seen since 2004.

“I knew my daughter was out there alive,” Felix DeJesus, Gina’s father, said Wednesday. “I knew she needed me, and I never gave up — never gave up searching for her.”

City officials said ropes and chains have been found inside the home. While Public Safety Director Martin Flask said investigators haven’t confirmed how the ropes and chains were used, police Chief Michael McGrath told NBC’s “Today” that they were used to restrain the missing women.

“We have confirmation that they were bound,” he said. He said investigators believe the women were allowed out of the house only rarely, but he wasn’t sure how often they were tied up or chained.

“We’ll have a better feel for that question once the interviews with the victims (are) completed later today,” McGrath said.

The brothers were arrested Monday night after Berry, now 27, staged a daring escape with the aid of two neighbors, Charles Ramsey and Angel Cordero. Investigators began questioning them Tuesday night, FBI Special Agent Vicki Anderson said Wednesday.

The three women disappeared from the same Cleveland street — Lorain Avenue — and were held just three miles away.

Knight was the first reported missing, in August 2002. She was 21. A police report on her disappearance described her as having “mental abnormalities,” but her mother told “Today” that Knight only suffered from asthma.

“Certain people, they told me that maybe she didn’t want nothing to do with me,” Barbara Knight said. “But still, in my heart, I thought, no, because I know my Michelle.”

Barbara Knight said she had not yet spoken to her daughter.

“She’s probably angry at the world, because she thought she would never be found, but thank God that somebody did,” she said. Asked what she would say, Barbara Knight said, “I love you and I missed you all this time.”

Michelle Knight’s brother, Freddie Knight, said he met with his sister at the hospital and gave her a hug. He said the ordeal had left her traumatized.

“I hugged her because she wanted a hug,” he said. “My sister is going to move on, forget the past … , leave it behind, start anew.”

Knight’s disappearance was followed by that of Berry, who was last seen at the end of her shift at a Burger King in April 2003. She was 16. DeJesus was reported missing a year later, in April 2004, at 14.

Evidence technicians returned to Ariel Castro’s home again Wednesday, and investigators still have much work ahead of them, Cleveland police Detective Jennifer Ciaccia said Tuesday. But an exhaustive search of the grounds turned up no evidence of human remains, Flask said.

Some neighbors of Ariel Castro second-guessed themselves Tuesday, questioning why they hadn’t noticed signs earlier and if they could have prevented the horrors. Others said they had reported something suspicious to police in the past — statements the city’s police department have denied.

Police had visited the home twice, authorities said Tuesday, once after Castro called about a fight in the street and again in 2004 to investigate an incident in which was accused of leaving a child alone on a bus. No one answered at the home, and investigators later interviewed him elsewhere, police say.

“Media reports of multiple calls to the Cleveland Police reporting suspicious activity and the mistreatment of women at 2207 Seymour are false,” spokeswoman Maureen Harper said in an e-mailed statement. Other officials said call records contained no evidence that neighbors ever called police to report unusual activity at the home.


 CLEVELAND — One of the men suspected of imprisoning and abusing three recently freed young women was earlier accused of a series of violent acts against the mother of four of his children and was ordered to complete domestic violence and substance abuse counseling.

Grimilda Figueroa, who in various court documents filed in 2005 said she had four children with Ariel Castro, told authorities that Castro broke her nose twice, knocked out her tooth and threatened to kill her and her daughters several times.

“Ariel Castro and I were never married. During our relationship, he was very abusive,” Figueroa said, according to an affidavit filed in Cuyahoga County in 2005.

PHOTOS: Long-term abductions

Three brothers, Ariel Castro, 52, Pedro Castro, 54, and Onil Castro, 50, have been arrested in the kidnapping case. The three women disappeared in 2002, 2003 and 2004.

The women were freed Monday evening after Amanda Berry, now 27, fought her way out of Ariel Castro’s house with the assistance of passersby. She and the other women — Gina DeJesus, now 23, and Michelle Knight, now 32 — were hospitalized briefly.

ariel castro

Ariel Castro, accused of holding three women hostage for 10 years.

Both Berry and DeJesus returned home Wednesday morning to the families that had fought for years to keep them from being forgotten. Crowds surrounded the homes, cheering as the young women went inside.

CLEVLAND — Ropes and chains have been found inside the Cleveland home where police say three women spent close to a decade in captivity, city officials said Wednesday.

While Public Safety Director Martin Flask said investigators haven’t confirmed how the ropes and chains were used, police Chief Michael McGrath told NBC’s “Today” that they were used to restrain the missing women.

“We have confirmation that they were bound,” he told NBC.

amanda berryAuthorities expect to file charges Wednesday against the homeowner and his two brothers, a police spokeswoman said Tuesday.

Police have until Wednesday evening to file charges against Ariel Castro, 52, who lived in the home where the women were found, and his brothers, Pedro Castro, 54, and Onil Castro, 50, police Detective Jennifer Ciaccia said Tuesday.

Investigators began questioning the brothers Tuesday night, FBI Special Agent Vicki Anderson said Wednesday.

They were arrested Monday night after one of the women, 27-year-old Amanda Berry, staged a daring escape with the aid of a neighbor.

For more on this CNN story, click here.

PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) - A local man is on a mission to raise $10,000 for Charles Ramsey, the man who claims he helped rescue Amanda Berry from captivity in Ohio more than 10 years after she went missing.

Robby Russell, who runs a web design development agency in Portland called Planet Argon, launched a fundraising page for Ramsey on Monday night.Ramsey became an overnight sensation after talking about what happened in Ohio on television.

Russell told FOX 12 that he found himself being blown away by some of the interviews Ramsey had done with some of the local stations in Cleveland. He was amazed by how unfiltered and raw Ramsey was despite the tragedy that had just taken place, he said.

RamseyRussell said he then wondered what would happen to Ramsey. He worried that he would become a huge Internet sensation then possibly be made fun of or forgotten, he said.

So Russell decided to create a page to raise money for him.

It’s his small way of thanking Ramsey for what he had done, he said.

“I thought maybe there’s something I could do with all this feedback that people want to provide to him,” Russell said. “Maybe I could help raise a little money so that he could be a little more comfortable throughout the situation.”

Russell initially mentioned the page to some friends and on his own Twitter feed. But donations didn’t start picking up until around lunch time on Tuesday afternoon, he said.

CNN’s Jeanne Moos even mentioned the page in one of her stories that air on televisions stations around the country.

Russell plans to send Ramsey a big check for whatever amount the page raises. He might even deliver the check to Ramsey in person, he said. If that happens, Russell said he would pay for his own plane ticket.

Russell told FOX 12 that he was the first person to make a donation on the page. The amount was $50, he said.

If you’d like to donate, click on the related link.

SEATTLE — For parents whose kids have vanished, the Ohio case where three women were found after being missing for a decade is providing hope that their children will be located alive, too.


Teekah Lewis of Tacoma disappeared when she was 2 years old.

When news broke that three missing women had been found alive in Cleveland Monday, Robert and Theresa Lewis of Tacoma believed one of them might be their daughter, Teekah Lewis.

Then the names of the rescued women were released.

“I was kind of upset, I was kind of heartbroken because I was thinking my daughter was one of the three,” said Robert.

Teekah Lewis was just just  2 years old when she was abducted at a Tacoma bowling alley in 1999 while her family played nearby.

“My story could be the same, my daughter could be anybody’s neighbor in Washington,” Theresa said. “Every child that’s been found, it just gives me more hope that my child could be the next one.”

They look to other survivors, such as Elizabeth Smart, who was abducted and raped for  nine months in Utah.

“For me,  it (her rescue) was the happiest day of my life,” Smart said. “I can’t even begin to suspect what they’re going through right now but I would have to think relief, happiness.”

Teekah Lewis would now be 16.  Police have gotten leads, although over time they come in less often.

Still, the Lewis family believes that one day their daughter will return to them.

“I know she’s going to come back home and into our lives,” Robert said.

“I’ll never give up hope, I’ll always have hope that she will come home,” Theresa said. “I’m waiting for that day, that phone call saying, ‘We found your daughter, come and get her.’ “


Michelle Knight (Photo from James Ford Rhodes High School yearbook)

CLEVELAND (FOX8) — Unlike Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus, Michelle Knight is the woman whose name you might not recognize.

But one day after being found alive, Knight’s family said Tuesday they were ecstatic that she is safe, and wonder why police didn’t do more to help them so many years ago.

Barbara Knight is Michelle’s mother. She says her daughter disappeared at the age of 20, in August 2002.

A Cleveland police report confirms the family filed a missing persons report, stating that Knight was last seen in the area of West 106th Street and Lorain Avenue.

Barbara says the report wasn’t taken seriously, with police suggesting that Michelle left on her own. A case worker also brushed it off, Barbara told Fox 8 by phone.

Michelle was in the midst of a custody battle over her young son at the time. There was speculation that she vanished intentionally.

Cleveland police said otherwise on Tuesday, citing “very few tips” in Michelle’s low-profile case over the years. They have released limited details on her case.

Family members conducted their own searches over the years, distributing fliers on the west side of Cleveland and scouring areas where they believed Michelle frequented.

Barbara says when police called her to confirm that her daughter was the third girl found in the Seymour Avenue home on Tuesday, she was emotional. She is excited to see her daughter, but weary because of the lost hope over the years.

 CLEVELAND (CNN) — She knew she didn’t have long. He would be back soon. After 10 long years in captivity, this was Amanda Berry’s chance.

She broke out the bottom of a screen door and screamed, startling a neighbor who came over and helped kick in the door. Then, frenzied, panicked, tearful freedom.

“Help me, I am Amanda Berry,” the 27-year-old woman told police in a frantic 911 call from the neighbor’s house. “I’ve been kidnapped, and I’ve been missing for 10 years. And I’m here, I’m free now.”

Cleveland police and the FBI hailed Berry as a hero for her daring escape Monday night that also led to freedom for two other women held inside the house — Georgina “Gina” DeJesus, 23, and Michelle Knight, 32. All three had disappeared close to a decade ago from the same Cleveland neighborhood.

A 6-year-old girl that police said is believed to be Berry’s daughter was also freed.

“We were in disbelief,” said DeJesus’s brother, Ricardo. “We cried. We were shaking. We were just happy.”

Police arrested former school bus driver Ariel Castro, 52, who lived at the house and was identified by Berry on the 911 call. Authorities also picked up his brothers, Pedro Castro, 54, and Onil Castro, 50. All three are jailed pending charges in the case, police said Tuesday.

For the complete CNN story, go here.

SEATTLE — Dr. Janet Look, a psychologist, discusses the case in Ohio where two teenage girls and a young woman were kidnapped and held captive in a Cleveland house for about 10 years before their escape/rescue.

CLEVELAND — After two fascinating but funny TV interviews and an expletive-laced 911 call, the man who helped rescue a woman who had been held captive for several years, has become a bona fide internet star.

Charles Ramsey is the man who noticed a young woman screaming frantically for help from the window of a house. The woman turned out to be Amanda Berry, who had been held captive, along with two other young women, for the past decade. Ramsey helped her escape from the house and then helped her contact the police, who rescued the other two women inside.

RamseyLocal TV news stations in Cleveland interviewed Ramsey, who told the story with humor, and the Internet ate it up.

As his name trended on Twitter, many praised Ramsey for not ignoring the woman screaming for help.

“It’s easy to just mind your own business and not get involved,” tweeted Ryan Paige. “Thankfully, Charles Ramsey didn’t do the easy thing today.”

“Mr Charles Ramsey you sir are a #hero,” tweeted Andy M.

Others commented on how funny the interviews were and how much of a personality Ramsey was.

The blog Guyism proclaimed Ramsey’s interview as the “greatest in the history of television.”

And screenwriter David Jenkins tweeted, “I want Charles Ramsey to give the eulogy at my funeral.”

Many people made correlations between Ramsey and Ruslan Tsarni, the uncle of the accused Boston Marathon bombers who gained notoriety for repeatedly and loudly calling his nephews losers.

Comedian Neal Brennan tweeted, “Reality Show: Charles Ramsey and Uncle Ruslan drive around and talk about stuff.”

And Andrew Kaczynski, a reporter for Buzzfeed, tweeted, “I’ve got an idea for your 10pm panel show. Uncle Ruslan, Charles Ramsey, and the 1st Ricin suspect. Make. It. Happen.”

With Ramsey’s interviews going viral so quickly, many predicted that he would become the next big-time Internet meme.

And with hip-hop website GlobalGrind making a list titled, “13 Reasons Why Charles Ramsey Is The Most Epic Hero In History,” which included “he kicks down doors without breaking a sweat,” and “after saving lives…a simple thumbs up sums up a hard day’s work,” that might end up being an accurate prediction.

The 911 call, which has strong language, can be heard here.