The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

World, nation, state

July 10, 2013

Women in Cleveland kidnap case thank public for support

CLEVELAND — Stylish and smiling, three women allegedly held captive in a Cleveland home for a decade offered thanks on YouTube for emotional and financial backing they’ve received since going “through hell and back.”

From Amanda Berry, 27: “I want everyone to know how happy I am to be home, with my family, my friends,” she said.

“I would say ‘thank you’ for the support,” said a soft-spoken Gina DeJesus, 23, in response to prompting from a narrator.

And from Michelle Knight, 32, who wasn’t a familiar face on a milk carton around town like the other two, came a sometimes halting yet defiant reading of a statement.

“I may have been through hell and back, but I am strong enough to walk through hell with a smile on my face and with my head held high,” she said. “I will not let the situation define who I am. I will define the situation. I don’t want to be consumed by hatred.”

The 3 1/2-minute video, produced last week and posted at midnight Monday, was filmed in a Cleveland law firm overlooking treetops, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum and Lake Erie.

DeJesus’ parents, Felix DeJesus and Nancy Ruiz, joined the heartfelt statements of gratitude, thanking the public for donations to a fund set up to help the women. More than $1 million has been donated.

Ruiz encouraged parents with missing loved ones to reach out for assistance. “Count on your neighbors,” she said. “Don’t be afraid to ask for the help because help is available.”

The women have turned aside media interview requests and appealed again for privacy since they were rescued in May when Berry broke through a door and yelled to neighbors for help.

The women had disappeared separately between 2002 and 2004, when they were 14, 16, and 20 years old. The owner of the home where they were found, 52-year-old former bus driver Ariel Castro, was arrested and has pleaded not guilty to a 329-count indictment alleging he kidnapped them off the streets and held them captive in his two-story home.

In the video, none of the women had any visible scars of the abuse they said they suffered. Castro fathered a 6-year-old daughter with Berry and is accused of starving and punching Knight, causing her to miscarry.

“I am getting stronger each day,” Berry said. “Having my privacy has helped immensely.”

The trio wants to maintain that privacy, according to a statement from the team of lawyers and crisis management experts helping them without charge.

Castro’s trial is scheduled for next month but could be delayed if the defense asks for more preparation time. Last week a judge rejected Castro’s request to see Berry’s child fathered by him.

Castro’s lawyers did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment on the video and on whether they were concerned it might bias jurors.

In the video, the women were smiling and appeared upbeat.

Berry, the only one who has been in photographs that have appeared publicly since her release, had shorter hair with a blonde streak in it. Knight, who authorities said had been taken captive first, wore glasses, had closely cropped hair and spoke a bit haltingly.

Kathy Joseph, Knight’s attorney, said in a statement that the three women wanted to “say thank you to people from Cleveland and across the world, now that two months have passed.”

She said they’re being recognized in public, “so they decided to put voices and faces to their heartfelt messages.”

1
Text Only
World, nation, state
  • Lower-income teens don’t get enough sleep

    African-American high school students and boys in low- to middle-income families reported short, fragmented sleep, and that could play a role in their health risks, researchers reported Monday.
     

    April 23, 2014

  • Health agencies try to counter mumps outbreak

    Health agencies trying to stem a large and growing mumps outbreak are advising college, school and even day care leaders to make sure central Ohio students are immunized and to separate them from those who haven’t been vaccinated and those who are infected.
     

    April 23, 2014

  • An ocean of broken hearts

    Lee Byung-soo says he knew, when he saw his 15-year-old son’s body in the tent. It could not have been more horrifically obvious. But he wanted so much for him to be alive.

    April 22, 2014

  • Biden conferring with Ukranian leader over what to do
    U.S. Vice President Joe Biden arrived in Kiev on Monday for talks with Ukraine’s embattled interim leaders as Russia’s top diplomat blamed Washington for instigating the crisis that threatens to escalate into armed conflict between the two former Soviet republics.
     

    April 22, 2014

  • Panel’s role in Cleveland police ruling questioned

    A lawyer for families of men killed in separate 2012 shootings by Cleveland police — including a 137-bullet chase under federal investigation — is questioning a grand jury’s role in a recent county prosecutor’s ruling.

    April 21, 2014

  • Gender gap under Ohio governor nearly $10 an hour

    A newspaper investigation has found the average pay gap between men and women in the offices of four of Ohio’s five elected statewide officials has grown to as much as almost $10 an hour, as it’s shrunk to under a dollar across the rest of state government.

    April 21, 2014

  • OBIT Rubin Carter Box_Lind.jpg Boxer Rubin ‘Hurricane’ Carter dies at 76

    Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, the boxer whose wrongful murder conviction became an international symbol of racial injustice, died Sunday. He was 76.

    April 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • MAG-kramer25p-Janae-O-Neal.jpg Kramer the labradoodle soothes students, staff at middle school

    Once upon a time there was a dog that went to middle school.

    April 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Ohio sees record high heroin overdose deaths

    A record number of Ohioans died from heroin-related overdoses in 2012, the state Department of Health said as it released the newest available figures for a problem that’s been called an epidemic and a public health crisis.
     

    April 19, 2014

  • Ohio’s jobless rate dips to 6.1 percent in March

    Ohio’s unemployment rate dropped in March to 6.1 percent, its lowest level in six years, according to state job figures released Friday.

    April 19, 2014

House Ads
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
AP Video