Three long-missing women freed in Cleveland: Latest developments

Three long-missing women freed in Cleveland: Latest developments
Courtesy Verdi Adams
Friday, May 10, 2013 - 7:21pm

Three long-missing women -- Amanda Berry, 27; Georgina "Gina" DeJesus, 23; and Michelle Knight, 32 -- and a 6-year-old daughter apparently born to Berry in captivity -- were found alive Monday in Cleveland, police said. The women are believed to have been abducted years ago -- in 2002, 2003 and 2004 -- and held captive at a man's home, according to police.

A suspect, Ariel Castro, 52, was arrested Monday. Two of his brothers also were arrested, but authorities later announced that those two would not be charged in the case. On Thursday, bail for Castro was set at $8 million on kidnapping and rape charges.

New development:

-- Ariel Castro is on suicide prevention -- which is standard procedure for high-profile inmates -- at a northern Ohio jail, Cuyahoga County Sheriff's Office spokesman John O'Brien said. He is not on suicide watch. Castro is in a 9-by-9-foot foot cell with a bed, sink, toilet, steel door and window, through which he is being watched around the clock, according to O'Brien.

Previously reported developments:

-- The three women and the child were rescued Monday after, according to a neighbor, screams came from the home.

-- Angel Cordero and Charles Ramsey say they responded to the screaming by helping to kick in a door to help Berry and her daughter escape.

-- Berry and Ramsey called 911. "Help me, I am Amanda Berry," she begged the operator. "I've been kidnapped, and I've been missing for 10 years. And I'm here, I'm free now." After police arrived, they found DeJesus and Knight in the house.

-- Police later arrested Castro, who's identified as a former school bus driver, and his two brothers. The three Castro brothers were together when they were arrested, at which time authorities felt "we had enough probable cause to bring them into custody," Cleveland police Deputy Chief Ed Tomba said. But over the course of the investigation, officials "found no facts to link" Onil and Pedro Castro to the kidnapping case.

-- Onil and Pedro Castro have been released from custody, Cleveland police tweeted Thursday. The two men appeared in court earlier in the day on misdemeanor cases unrelated to the three women's alleged kidnapping.

-- Ariel Castro was arraigned on four counts of kidnapping and three counts of rape Thursday, accused of holding the women captive in his Cleveland home. Cleveland Municipal Court Judge Lauren Moore ordered Castro held on $8 million bail -- $2 million for each of the three women and the child born to Amanda Berry before they were freed Monday evening. The state had asked for bail to be set at $5 million.

-- Lead prosecutor in Cuyahoga County, Ohio, Timothy McGinty, will press for more charges -- "for each and every act of sexual violence ... each day of kidnapping, every felonious assault (and) all his attempted murders." McGinty also said Thursday that he wants a grand jury to indict Castro for "aggravated murder" for the termination of his captives' pregnancies.

-- Authorities "will evaluate whether we will seek charges eligible for the death penalty," McGinty said.

-- Castro's mother spoke briefly to Univision and Telemundo. "I have a sick son, who has done something serious," she said. "I'm suffering very much. I ask for forgiveness from those mothers, may those girls forgive me."

-- Castro's daughter Angie Gregg disowned him publicly in a CNN exclusive interview, saying, "He is dead to me." She vowed not to call or visit him again and said she is disgusted with the heinous acts he has allegedly committed.

-- Gregg said she learned by phone Monday that her father's house was taped off after three young women had been freed after being held captive for years. "It was like everything crashed down," she told CNN on Thursday, about hearing her father was a suspect. "I just wanted to die. I couldn't believe it."

-- Castro "kept his house locked down so tight" and would sometimes leave mysteriously for an hour or so, then return, with "no explanation," Gregg said. "Everything's making sense now," she added. "It's all adding up, and I'm just disgusted."

-- Castro confessed to some of his actions during the roughly decade-long period in which he allegedly held three women and repeatedly sexually assaulted them, a law enforcement source closely involved with the investigation said. The source did not describe precisely what Castro confessed to when he was interrogated by authorities.

-- In charging documents for Castro released Wednesday, police said that he lured Knight into his vehicle on Lorain Avenue on August 22, 2002, took her to his home, and over the subsequent years "repeatedly sexually assaulted" her. Police laid out the same scenario for Berry, who was allegedly lured into Castro's vehicle on the same road on April 21, 2003. DeJesus was allegedly lured into Castro's vehicle on April 2, 2004, and, like the other two women, sexually assaulted repeatedly in the subsequent years.

-- Cleveland police removed Knight's name from an FBI database of missing people in November 2003 -- 15 months after her family reported her missing -- police said. They did so after "failing to locate a parent, guardian or other reporting person to confirm that Ms. Knight was still missing." Police said, though, that Knight's missing person's case remained open and was checked on as recently as November 2012.

-- Angel Cordero, who helped rescue Berry and her daughter, said she told him they had to leave quickly before the suspect returned home. "She said, 'Let's get out of here, because if that guy comes he's going to kill us. If he finds me here, he is going to kill me and he's going to kill you.' " Cordero also told CNN en Español that Berry's daughter did not appear accustomed to being around many people. She was wearing only a diaper and a sullied shirt, the rescuer said.

-- The three women hadn't left Ariel Castro's property and had gone outside only "on two separate occasions ... briefly" in the years in which they were held captive, authorities said.

-- The three women "relied on each other for survival," a law enforcement source with firsthand knowledge of the investigation said. They interacted during their captivity, though they were typically kept in separate rooms, according to the source.

-- All three have been released from an area hospital. The last to do leave was Knight, who hospital spokeswoman Tina Shaerban-Arundel said Friday had been discharged from Cleveland's MetroHealth Medical Center. Earlier Friday, a statement on the hospital's Facebook page stated that Knight was in good spirits and was grateful for the outpouring of flowers and gifts.

-- Berry and DeJesus were released days earlier, arriving at home of their respective relatives on Wednesday.

-- The investigation thus far hasn't led to any new information on Ashley Summers, who was 14 when she went missing in 2007, said Tomba, the Cleveland police deputy chief. He said "her disappearance was part of the questioning" of the three Castro brothers who were initially arrested.

-- By 5 p.m. Wednesday, law enforcement authorities had "completed their search" of Ariel Castro's home, said Martin Flask, Cleveland's public safety director. More than 200 items were taken from the house, which Tomba said "was in quite a bit of disarray" when officers entered.

-- Among the items were writings containing "specific detailing of actions and reasons behind actions" associated with the abduction of three women and their kidnapper's behavior toward them, one of the law enforcement sources said. The source said that while the writings included talk of suicide, that was just one aspect, and the suspect's history of abuse by family members was cited as justification for his actions.

-- On Friday, law enforcement authorities boarded up Ariel Castro's home on Seymour Avenue to preserve the crime scene, said Cleveland's deputy police chief, Ed Tomba. Authorities plan to later erect a fence around the home.

-- Law enforcement authorities Wednesday afternoon searched a boarded-up house and detached garage two doors down from Ariel Castro's Cleveland home. FBI agents in protective suits were on site, accompanied by dogs. Some of the agents carried shovels.

-- DNA tests confirm that Ariel Castro is the father of Berry's 6-year-old daughter, who police believe was born in captivity, the Ohio attorney general's office said Friday.

-- Castro's DNA did not match that from any other open Ohio cases, according to Dan Tierney, a spokesman for the attorney general's office. National results are pending through the FBI, he said.

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