Three women apparently kidnapped and held in captivity for a decade in a house in Cleveland were rescued Monday night. They escaped the house with a 6-year-old girl, reports Debbi Wilgoren:
The girl is believed to be the daughter of Amanda Berry, the woman who triggered her own rescue and that of her fellow captives by flagging down a neighbor and begging him to help her escape.
Berry, now 27, disappeared in April 2003, a day before her 17th birthday, after calling her sister to say she was getting a ride home from her job at a Burger King. Gina DeJesus went missing a year later, at age 14, while walking home from middle school. The oldest of the women, Michelle Knight, disappeared in August 2002, when she was 20 years old.
The victims were in good health, according to police. Ariel Castro, the owner of the house, was arrested along with his brothers Pedro and Onil. Jerry Markon and Caitlin Dewey describe how Berry escaped from the house:
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.
Ramsey and Angel Cordero, another neighbor, described kicking in the door of the house to reporters for WEWS-TV, the ABC affiliate in Cleveland. “We see this dude every day,” Ramsey said of Castro, surprised that his neighbor might have been responsible for a kidnapping. “I barbecue with this dude. We eat ribs and what not and listen to salsa music. You see where I’m coming from?”
The Plain Dealer reports that Berry, Knight and DeJesus were released from a hospital where they had spent the night, according to the Plain Dealer. The newspaper also reported that the house where the women were apparently held captive is in foreclosure.
At The New Yorker, Amy Davidson applauds Ramsey for stopping to help:
“I figured it was a domestic-violence dispute,” [Ramsey said.] In many times and places, a line like that has been offered as an excuse for walking away, not for helping a woman break down your neighbor’s door. How many women have died as a result? They didn’t yesterday . . .
What if he had just told his neighbor, with whom, he told reporters, he’d hung out at local barbecues — “ribs and what not” — that someone in his house was being loud? “Amanda is the one,” Deputy Police Chief Ed Tomba said at the press conference on Tuesday morning. “She came out of that house and that started it all.”