Belfast Telegraph

Friday 25 July 2014

House rescue women glad to be home

A missing poster still hangs on a tree at the home where Amanda Berry is staying in Cleveland (AP)

Three women rescued from a house in Ohio a decade after they disappeared said on Sunday that they are happy to be home and pleaded for privacy so they can heal and reconnect with their family.

An attorney for the women also said they are extremely grateful for the support of family, law enforcement and the community.

Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight remain in seclusion and released their first statements since they were found May 6 after Ms Berry escaped and called police.

Ariel Castro is suspected of imprisoning the women inside his house for nine years or more, allowing them outside only a few moments, and raping them. A DNA test also confirmed that Castro fathered a six-year-old girl who Ms Berry gave birth to in the house. The girl escaped the house with Ms Berry.

Castro is being held on eight million US dollar bond. The 52-year-old former school bus driver was charged with four counts of kidnapping and three counts of rape.

The women, now in their 20s and 30s, vanished separately between 2002 and 2004. At the time, they were 14, 16 and 20 years old. Attorney Jim Wooley read statements attributed to all three women.

Ms Knight, who was the first to disappear and the last of the three released from the hospital, said: "Thank you to everyone for your support and good wishes. I am healthy, happy and safe and will reach out to family, friends and supporters in good time."

Ms Berry added: "Thank you so much for everything you're doing and continue to do. I am so happy to be home with my family."

Ms DeJesus, the youngest of the three, said: "I am so happy to be home, and I want to thank everybody for all your prayers. I just want time now to be with my family."

The attorney for the women said none of them will do any media interviews until the criminal case against Castro is over. He also asked that they be given privacy. "Give them the time, the space, and the privacy so that they can continue to get stronger," Mr Wooley said.

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