Amanda is a true hero for having the bravery to escape and save the lives of her daughter and the other two women.
Yahoo: Three women missing for about a decade are free today, and police are crediting the bravery of one of them—Amanda Berry, now 27—for escaping the captors and seeking help.
“The real hero here is Amanda,” assistant Cleveland police chief Ed Tomba told reporters at a news conference Wednesday morning. “She got this rolling.”
Shortly before 6 p.m. ET Monday, Berry was able to break out of the home in Cleveland's west side neighborhood where she apparently had been held for the past 10 years. She was reported missing on April 21, 2003, Tomba said.
After she called 911, police responded to the home at 5:52 p.m. Two other women, Gina DeJesus, who had been missing since 2004, when she was 14, and Michelle Knight, who had been missing since 2002 when she was 20, were found inside.
When Berry escaped the house, she brought with her a 6-year-old daughter. Police would not say who the father of the child was, but confirmed that the girl is Berry’s daughter.
Police have arrested three brothers in connection to the case: Ariel Castro, 52, the owner of the home, and brothers Pedro, 54, and Onil, 50. They have not been charged. Tomba said the men were taken into custody about 6:30 p.m. and will be charged within 36 hours.
The stories of Berry and DeJesus have captivated the city of Cleveland for a decade. They have been the subject of numerous vigils and city searches. Police have followed leads over the years, including digging up two backyards seeking their remains. On Monday, crowds gathered in the neighborhood where they were found and at the hospital where they were taken later.
“Our prayers have finally been answered—this nightmare is over,” said Stephen Anthony, special agent in charge of the Cleveland office of the FBI.
While much has been written about Berry and DeJesus, and the efforts to find them, not much has been written about Michelle Knight. "She has been the focus of very few tips," Tomba said. Knight was last seen on Aug. 22, 2002. She was 20 years old at the time, and went missing from the same neighborhood as Berry and DeJesus.
Police said all three women appeared healthy, other than needing a good meal. They were taken to a Cleveland hospital, where they were reunited with their families.
Police said that officers were called to the home of the alleged captor, Ariel Castro, twice, but nothing came of the calls.
In March 2000, Castro reported a fight in the street, and in January 2004, officials from Children and Family Services went to the home to investigate an incident related to his employment as a bus driver. Castro, then a bus driver for the Cleveland schools, had gone to lunch after running his route, despite having one more child still on the bus.
Police say they investigated that incident, but felt there was no criminal wrong-doing and the matter was dropped.
“He was interviewed extensively due to that investigation,” Tomba said.
Mayor Frank Jackson said housing and building records also have been reviewed and no reports of violations were found.
Police declined to provide specific details about the home where the women were kept or its condition upon their arrival on Monday. They said the home is an active crime scene and detectives were processing it through the night.
Asked if they believe the kidnappings were part of a larger operation, police officials said they were looking into every possible angle. It appears that Berry, DeJesus and Knight were the only victims. Officials declined to say if they were sexually abused.