Also found in the house was a 6-year-old girl who is believed to be Berry’s daughter.
There had been signs that something was amiss inside the two-story house with faded paint, which sits on a street packed with small homes with open porches just steps away from a gas station and a Caribbean grocery. Neighbors said that several years ago, a naked woman was seen crawling on her hands and knees in the back yard, and pounding was heard on the doors in 2011. Police showed up each time but stayed outside, the neighbors said.
The home in a heavily Latino neighborhood was owned by Ariel Castro, 52, a former school bus driver who was arrested along with his brothers, Pedro Castro, 54, and Onil Castro, 50.
City officials said children and family services investigators had gone to the home in January 2004, when two of the girls were missing, because Ariel Castro had left a child on a school bus.
Investigators “knocked on the door but were unsuccessful in connection with making any contact with anyone inside that home,” Cleveland Mayor Frank G. Jackson said at a news conference, adding that officials “have no indication that any of the neighbors, bystanders, witnesses or anyone else has ever called regarding any information regarding activity that occurred at that house on Seymour Avenue.’’
The Castro brothers had not been charged, and it was unclear whether attorneys had been appointed for them.
On Tuesday afternoon, a Puerto Rican flag flapped listlessly on the porch of the Castro home as investigators in white hazardous-materials suits walked in and out. Crews hoisted a dirty brown SUV onto a tow truck as a crowd drawn by the spectacle watched from less than half a block away.
“Justice came for those young women,” said Hans Massas, 61, a retired worker at an auto-parts store who lives around the corner from the house.
The dramatic rescue of three young women who disappeared doing things as seemingly innocuous as walking home from school or from a job at Burger King produced a flood of emotions from local and federal authorities, who said they had never stopped investigating the cases.
“The nightmare is over. These three young ladies have provided us with the ultimate definition of survival and perseverance,” said Steve Anthony, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Cleveland division. “The families of three young ladies never gave up hope, and neither did law enforcement. . . . Yes, law enforcement professionals do cry.”