The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

World, nation, state

May 13, 2013

Women rescued in Cleveland happy to be home

CLEVELAND — The three women allegedly imprisoned and sexually abused for years inside a padlocked Cleveland house asked for privacy Sunday, saying through an attorney that while they are grateful for overwhelming support, they also need time to heal.

Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus, and Michelle Knight remain in seclusion, releasing their first statements since they were found May 6 when Berry escaped and told a 911 dispatcher, “I’m free now.”

They thanked law enforcement and said they were grateful for the support of family and the community.

“I am so happy to be home, and I want to thank everybody for all your prayers,” DeJesus said in a statement read by an attorney. “I just want time now to be with my family.”

The women, now in their 20s and 30s, vanished separately between 2002 and 2004. At the time, they were 14, 16 and 20 years old.

Investigators say they spent the last nine years or more inside the home of Ariel Castro where they were repeatedly raped and only allowed outside a handful of times. Castro, 52, is being held on $8 million bond. The former school bus driver was charged with four counts of kidnapping and three counts of rape.  

Prosecutors said last week they may seek aggravated murder charges — punishable by death — for allegedly impregnating one of his captives at least five times and forcing her miscarry by starving her and punching her in the belly.

The allegations were contained in a police report that also said Berry was forced to give birth in a plastic kiddie pool inside the home. A DNA test confirmed that Castro fathered the 6-year-old girl, who escaped the house with Berry.

After nearly a decade of being away, the three women need time to reconnect with their families, said attorney Jim Wooley.

Knight, who was the first to disappear and the last of the three released from the hospital, thanked everyone for their support and good wishes in her statement.

“I am healthy, happy and safe and will reach out to family, friends and supporters in good time.”

Berry added: “Thank you so much for everything you’re doing and continue to do. I am so happy to be home with my family.”

The attorney said none of the women will do any media interviews until the criminal case against Castro is over. He also asked that they be given privacy.

“Give them the time, the space, and the privacy so that they can continue to get stronger,” Wooley said.

The Associated Press does not usually identify people who say they are victims of sexual assault, but the women’s names were widely circulated by their families, friends and law enforcement authorities for years during their disappearances and after they were found.

Donations are pouring into funds set up for the women. City Councilman Brian Cummins said $50,000 has been raised with the goal of creating a trust fund for each in hopes of making them financially independent.

Castro was represented at his first court appearance Thursday by public defender Kathleen Demetz, who said she can’t speak to his guilt or innocence and advised him not to give any media interviews that might jeopardize his case.

Castro’s two brothers, who were initially taken into custody but released Thursday after investigators said there was no evidence against them, told CNN that they fear people still believe they had something to do with the three missing women.

Onil and Pedro Castro said they’ve been getting death threats even after police decided to release them. Pedro Castro said he would have turned in his brother if he had known he was involved in the women’s disappearance.

“Brother or no brother,” he told CNN.

1
Text Only
World, nation, state
  • Lordstown eyes fall rollout of updated Cruze

    Production of the updated Chevrolet Cruze is tentatively set to begin early this fall at the General Motors facility in Lordstown, a plant official confirmed.
     

    April 17, 2014

  • A year after background check defeat, modest goals

    Democratic worries about this November’s elections, a lack of Senate votes and House opposition are forcing congressional gun-control supporters to significantly winnow their 2014 agenda, a year after lawmakers scuttled President Barack Obama’s effort to pass new curbs on firearms.
     

    April 17, 2014

  • College Board provides a glimpse of new SAT

    Anxious students — not to mention their parents — can get a heads-up for how the redesigned SAT might look in two years.
     

    April 17, 2014

  • Screen Shot 2014-04-16 at 12.51.22 PM.png VIDEO: Toddler climbs into vending machine

    A child is safe after climbing into and getting stuck inside a claw crane machine at a Lincoln, Neb., bowling alley Monday.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Poll finds Clinton trouncing entire GOP field

    Hillary Clinton isn’t only the strong front-runner for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, but she’s well ahead of every potential Republican rival, according to a new McClatchy-Marist Poll.
     

    April 16, 2014

  • Ukraine bares teeth against eastern uprising

    In the first Ukrainian military action against a pro-Russian uprising in the east, government forces repelled an attack Tuesday by about 30 gunmen at an airport, beginning what the president called an “anti-terrorist operation” to try to restore authority over the restive region.
     

    April 16, 2014

  • U.N. Security Council sees grim images of Syrian dead

    The U.N. Security Council fell silent Tuesday after ambassadors viewed a series of ghastly photographs of dead Syrian civil war victims, France’s ambassador said. The pictures showed people who were emaciated, with their bones protruding, and some bearing the marks of strangulation and repeated beatings, and eyes having been gouged out.

    April 16, 2014

  • U.S.: Russia causing Ukraine unrest

    The White House on Monday said there was “overwhelming evidence” that Russia is fomenting unrest in eastern Ukraine, but suggested that President Barack Obama has not yet concluded that Vladimir Putin’s actions warrant broader sanctions on key Russian economic sectors.

    April 15, 2014

  • Woman arrested after dead babies found

    A Utah woman accused of killing seven babies she gave birth to over 10 years was arrested Sunday after police discovered the tiny bodies stuffed in separate cardboard boxes in the garage of her former home.

    April 14, 2014

  • Rome man killed in crash

    The Ohio State Highway Patrol Chardon Post is investigating a fatal crash that took place just after midnight Sunday.

    April 14, 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