She was, by all accounts, a typical teenage girl, who wore her hair in a ponytail, had mild acne, liked to shop and loved rapper Eminem.
But Tuesday, the now-27-year-old Amanda Berry emerged as the hero of a remarkable saga in which she and two other women were kidnapped and held captive for years in a Cleveland home.
It was Berry, police and neighbors said, who had the presence of mind to hail a neighbor, slip through an obstructed front door with his help and place a frantic call to 911.
“Help me. I’m Amanda Berry. I’ve been kidnapped, and I’ve been missing for 10 years,” she said tearfully, before describing her alleged captor for the dispatcher.
The 110-pound, brown-eyed teenager disappeared at age 16 on April 21, 2003, while on her way home from her job at Burger King, according to police, local media reports and the television show “America’s Most Wanted,” which first featured her case the following year.
She was still wearing her Burger King uniform. Her 17th birthday party had been planned for the next day.
Berry was close to her mother and older sister, wanted to be a clothing designer when she grew up and began working at Burger King because she liked to buy things for herself, her “America’s Most Wanted” profile said.
Her mother, Louwana Miller, never gave up hope that the girl known as Mandy was still alive, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer. The case attracted national attention when Miller went on Montel Williams’s nationally syndicated television show in 2004 and consulted a psychic.
“She’s not alive, honey,” the psychic said. “Your daughter’s not the kind who wouldn’t call.”
After Berry’s mother died in 2006, there were occasional clues in the search for Berry, and police have conducted a number of searches over the years. All proved fruitless — until Monday night, when Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight were rescued from the house in Cleveland.
Also rescued was a 6-year-old girl. She is believed to be Berry’s daughter.
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