Three women who went missing over a decade ago, presumed to be dead, were today found alive and healthy after a frantic phone call to 911, only a few miles away from the areas of their disappearances in Ohio, Cleveland. Amanda Berry, who disappeared in 2003 after informing her sister she was getting a lift home from Burger King, alerted neighbours to her cries for help and called 911, in which she was heard to say, ‘I’m Amanda Berry, I’ve been on the news for ten years. I’m here, I’m fine now’.
The disappearances of Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight had all made headlines around America. DeJesus vanished on her way home from school in 2004, and authorities concluded that Michelle Knight had run away from her family home in 2002. Amanda Berry seized her opportunity when the owner of the house was away from the house, and cried repeatedly for help, attracting the attention of neighbour Charles Ramsey, who ran to help her and kicked the door down to allow her to exit. Berry then called 911, and all three girls were rescued from the house, along with a six year old girl assumed to be the daughter of Amanda Berry. Three Hispanic brothers have been arrested as suspects; Ariel Castro, 52, assumed to be the home owner, Pedro Castro, 54 and Oril Castro, 51.
The families of the victims have today spoken of how they never lost hope and faith that their loved ones would return home safely. Sylvia Colon, aunt of Gina DeJesus, said ‘we were living everyday in the hope she would come home – and she did.’ Amanda Berry’s mother died in 2006 of illness, yet City Councillor Dora Brady believes ‘she died of a broken heart’ in her repeated attempts to find her daughter. Cleveland’s Deputy Police Chief regarded the escape as ‘a great day. We cannot tell you how happy we are’, highlighting the emotional response of the nation by adding, ‘yes, law enforcement officials do cry’.
The three women are currently being examined in regards to mental and physical health, and are assumed to be in good health. This momentous day will be a blessing to the families that have struggled with torment and anguish, battling with the daily upset. Gina DeJesus’ aunt Sandra Ruin described the three women to be ‘so strong’, enforcing ‘what we’ve done in ten years is nothing compared to what these women have done in ten years to survive’. It is now hoped that under a long process, one in which professional and friendly support is essential, these women can begin to rebuild their lives and reunite with their families to regain the time lost during their battle against the hand of their captors.