Charles Ramsey on life after Cleveland kidnapping rescue


Charles Ramsey speaking to media near the home where missing women Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michele Knight were rescued in Cleveland on May 6, 2013. (Scott Shaw/The Plain Dealer/AP)

He might be the meme-worthiest hostage liberator of all time. He’s not your typical knight in shining armor. But a year after the self-described “scary looking black dude” helped rescue three Cleveland women held captive for ten years, people are still calling him a hero and hanging on to his every word.

Ramsay recently published a book, “Dead Giveaway,” about the fateful day, May 6, 2013, when he heard screams from neighbor Ariel Castro’s house. They belonged to Amanda Berry, who disappeared in 2003. Ramsey helped free Berry and her six-year-old daughter before police arrived to rescue two other women, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight. Castro pleaded guilty to 937 felony counts, including kidnapping and rape, before hanging himself in prison last year.

Ramsey became a folk hero for his bravery and for his colorful account of the rescue to Cleveland’s ABC affiliate.

“I knew something was wrong when a little pretty white girl ran into a black man’s arms,” he told a reporter. “I barbecue with this dude. We eat ribs and whatnot and listen to salsa music,” he said, referring to Castro. “My neighbor, you got some big testicles to pull this off, bro. Because we see this dude every day. I mean every day.”

On Tuesday Ramsey responded to questions on Reddit with his characteristic good-natured swagger. Here are the highlights from his “Ask Me Anything” interview, typos included:

1.      Ramsey wishes he’d killed Castro himself in a celebrity death match.

“Ariel Castro met his demise before a celebrity fight could be arranged between him and me,” Ramsey wrote.  Asked what he would have done differently on that fateful day, Ramsey said “I wouldn’t have called the police…I would have got my comrades…when Mr. Castro came home, we would turn it on him. I would have got him pregnant five times and beat the babies out of him. I would have put a motorcycle on his forehead.” (Castro reportedly forced Michelle Knight to wear a motorcycle helmet the first time he raped her.) Redditors embraced his response as “so metal.”

2.       He copes with the stress of fame by singing the “Cheers” theme song.

He got the idea from Drew Carey, who he ran into on New Year’s Eve. “I was doing the ball thing in public square, I say Drew how do you handle people who know you wherever you go. How do you deal with all that he says this is what you do. Remember that show Cheers? Sing that jungle in your head and when it starts making sense to you, it won’t bother you anymore. The world is your neighborhood now. You’re in their heart, you’re in their brains.”

3.       He’s totally up for collaborating with the “hide yo kids, hide yo wife” guy.

The auto-tuned version of Ramsey’s TV interview, “Dead Giveaway,” drew comparisons to the “Bed Intruder Song,” an auto-tuned version of Antoine Dodson’s 2010 interview with an NBC affiliate about fighting off a would-be rapist who broke into his Hunstville, Ala. housing project. “Oh yeah, I like that,” Ramsey wrote of the proposed collaboration. “And we could do, ‘Aint nobody got time for that woman.’”

4.       He didn’t go to Castro’s trial because he wasn’t allowed to bring a weapon into the courtroom.

“I was a witness. Told to stay out by the FBI. You got to swear to us you won’t bring a weapon in here. I couldn’t swear to that. I’m not going through metal detectors. If I get in here with a weapon, his ass is dead on national TV. That bastard got over on me. I should have killed him a long time ago.”

5.       His mom wants him to tone it down.

Asked if anyone tried to filter him, Ramsey said “My mother. I told her good luck with that lady.… She says, I have a potty mouth.”

6.       He’s still on the lookout for “bad dudes.”

Ramsey still hangs with Michelle Knight, one of the women kidnapped by Castro, several nights a week, he said. “Her thing is to walk her dog and meet and greet people. My thing is to walk around looking for bad dudes who want to snatch another child.” Ramsey also said he is working on an effort to demolish abandoned homes and buildings in Cleveland. “If we get rid of rest havens for pedofiles, we even the game. Right now, you could kidnap some kids in Cleveland and put them anywhere.”

7.       People won’t stop blowing up his spot to say “thanks.”

“The calls were so overwhelming and they were coming in from the same places I think have those girls in Nigeria. I don’t know where those numbers were coming from. Mars was trying to thank me.”

8.       He didn’t know Castro was a monster – the guy “wasn’t throwing Tupperware parties.”

“i didn’t go to church with him. He was my neighbor. the closest a neighbor could get coming from dif ethnic backgrounds. We weren’t playing spades, he wasn’t throwing tupperware parties. He kept everything he could do to keep you from asking abotu what he did in that house”

9.       He is very generous with his free burgers.

McDonald’s promised Ramsey free burgers for a year after he said on TV that he’d gone to McDonald’s before rescuing the captive women and went to their aid with a half-eaten Big Mac in hand. Ramsey said McDonald’s gave him $2,000 in gift cards. “I handed them out to every homeless person and kid I could find,” he said.

10.       His hero status has upped his game with the ladies.

Asked if any pretty white girls have come running to him lately, a reference to a line from his TV interview that went viral, Ramsey said “The answer would be, yes, every day I woke up since last year. And that is my reason for going outside.”

Gail Sullivan covers business for the Morning Mix blog.
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