Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 20 April 2014

Video: Three missing US women found alive in Ohio house after neighbour heard screams and kicked in door

Found after ten years - Amanda Berry one of three kidnapped separately in Cleveland

Amber Berry, right, hugs her sister Beth Serrano after being reunited in a Cleveland hospital Monday May 6, 2013. (AP Photo/Family Handout courtesy WOIO-TV)
Amber Berry, right, hugs her sister Beth Serrano after being reunited in a Cleveland hospital Monday May 6, 2013. (AP Photo/Family Handout courtesy WOIO-TV)

"Help me! I'm Amanda Berry... I've been kidnapped and I've been missing for 10 years and I'm here. I'm free now."

These were the frantic words of a woman who had been missing since 2003 as she begged police to rescue her.

Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight were presumed dead after being abducted separately 10 years ago.

Last night all three of the women were found by police in the city of Cleveland, Ohio - in a house close to where they were last seen - after a neighbour heard a woman screaming inside the house and came to her rescue.

Police said they had arrested three brothers as suspects in the triple disappearance.

Once the woman had been let out of the house, she made a frantic phone call to police, identifying herself as Amanda Berry – the victim of a high-profile suspected abduction a decade ago.

In a recording of the emergency call, which has since been released by police, the 26-year-old can be heard screaming: “Help me! I'm Amanda Berry... I've been kidnapped and I've been missing for 10 years and I'm here. I'm free now“.

During the call, she gave the name of her alleged abductor, said he was “out of the house” and urged police to come quickly. She indicated that she knew her disappearance had been widely reported in the media.

In an interview broadcast by CNN, the neighbour who came to Ms Berry’s rescue said that, when he arrived, Berry appeared desperate to get through the door, which did not open properly.

“I see this girl going nuts trying to get outside,” Charles Ramsey said, adding that he was astonished when she identified herself.

“Then I realized I'm calling 911 for Amanda Berry. I thought that girl was dead,” he said. He said Berry had emerged from the house “with a little girl.”

The two women found with Berry were identified by authorities as Gina DeJesus, 23, who vanished in 2004 at age 14, and Michelle Knight, who was reported to have been 20 when she disappeared more than a decade ago.

All three women were taken to a local hospital, MetroHealth Medical Center, where Dr Gerald Maloney told a news conference they were all “safe” and “appear to be in fair condition.”

“This isn't the ending we usually have to these stories, so we're very happy. We're very happy for them,” Maloney said.

He declined to comment on unconfirmed media reports that two children were found with the three women at the house.

The suspects, ages 50, 52 and 54, were arrested based on information given to investigators by the three women after their rescue, according to Deputy Cleveland Police Chief Ed Tomba, who said the women had probably been held in that house since they vanished.

One of the men was identified earlier as Ariel Castro, 52, a bus driver for Cleveland public schools.

Crowds on the street where the women were found cheered as police cars drove into the cordoned-off area around the house.

Berry was last seen leaving her job at a fast-food restaurant to go home on the day before her 17th birthday.

City councilwoman Dona Brady, a friend of the family, told Reuters that Berry's grief-stricken mother had died at age 47, essentially from a broken heart.

A cousin of DeJesus, Sheila Figaro, told CNN that the girl's mother, Nancy, “never gave up faith knowing that her daughter would one day be found. What a phenomenal Mother's Day gift she gets this Mother's Day.”

Police had previously stated the Berry and DeJesus disappearances could be linked, but little was released about Michelle Knight, who vanished first in 2002.

The suspects' uncle, Caesar Castro, who owns a grocery store on the same street, said Ariel Castro owned the house where the women were found. He added that members of his family and the family of DeJesus “grew up together.”

“Everyone is shocked,” said the elder Castro. He said he had known Ariel Castro to be “a good guy” and a musician who played the bass.

Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson said, “I am thankful that Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight have been found alive.”

“We have many unanswered questions regarding this case, and the investigation will be ongoing,” he added.

In January, a prison inmate was sentenced to four and a half years after admitting he provided a false burial tip in the disappearance of Ms Berry, who had last been seen the day before her 17th birthday. A judge in Cleveland sentenced Robert Wolford on his guilty plea to obstruction of justice, making a false report and making a false alarm.

Last summer Wolford tipped authorities to look for Berry's remains on a Cleveland site. He was taken to the location, which was dug up.

Two men arrested for questioning in the disappearance of Ms DeJesus in 2004 were released from the city jail in 2006 after officers did not find her body during a search of the men's house.

One of the men was transferred to the Cuyahoga County Jail on unrelated charges, while the other was allowed to go free, police said.

In September 2006, police acting on a tip tore up the concrete floor of the garage and used a cadaver dog to search unsuccessfully for Ms DeJesus' body.

No special alert was issued the day Ms DeJesus failed to return home from school in April 2004 because no one witnessed her abduction. The lack of an alert angered her father, Felix DeJesus, who said in 2006 he believed the public would listen even if the alerts became routine.

 

"Help me! I'm Amanda Berry" - The frantic 911 call

Amanda Berry:  Help me, I'm Amanda Berry.

Operator:  Do you need police, fire or ambulance?

Berry:  I need police.

Operator: OK, and what's going on there?

Berry:  I've been kidnapped, and I've been missing for 10 years. And I'm here. I'm free now.

Operator: OK, and what's your address?

(The operator tries to figure out where she is.)

Berry:  I'm across the street. I'm using their phone

Operator: OK, stay there with those neighbors and talk to the police when they get there.

(The operator repeats her instructions several times.)

Berry:  OK, are they on their way right now? I need them now.

Operator: We're gonna send them as soon as we get a car open.

Berry:  No, I need them now before he gets back.

Operator: All right. We're sending them, OK?

Berry:  OK. I mean, like, right now.

Operator: Who is the guy who went out?

Berry:  His name is Ariel Castro.

Operator: All right. How old is he?

Berry:  He's like 52.

Operator: All right, and a...

Berry:  And I'm Amanda Berry. I've been on the news for the last 10 years.

Operator: OK, I got that, dear... what is his name again?

Berry:  Uh, Ariel Castro.

Operator: And is he white, black or Hispanic?

Berry:  Uh, he's Hispanic.

Operator: What's he wearing?

Berry:  I don't know cause he's not here right now. That's how we got away.

Operator: When he left, what was he wearing?

Berry:  (Indistinguishable)

Operator: The police are on the way. Talk to them when they get there.

Berry:  OK.

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