Kidnapped Ohio Women Return Home To Families
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We begin this hour in Cleveland, where the city celebrated today. Two of three women held captive for nearly a decade returned to their families. At the homes of Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus, neighbors cheered, and dozens of reporters gathered not far from where the women were kept. A third victim, Michelle Knight, remains in the hospital.
Three brothers have been arrested in the case, and prosecutors are expected to announce charges shortly. NPR's Cheryl Corley is in Cleveland and reports on the day's big homecomings.
(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING)
(SOUNDBITE OF MOTORCYCLE ENGINE)
CHERYL CORLEY, BYLINE: The roar of police motorcycle engines signaled Amanda Berry's homecoming. Her sister's house was adorned with balloons, teddy bears and a giant welcome home sign. The celebration coexisted with reminders of the grim years that Berry endured. A missing poster of her and Gina DeJesus, one of the other captives, remain taped to a tree with a yellow ribbon. Cleveland Police Commander Thomas McCartney called the escape of all three of the women a huge relief.
THOMAS MCCARTNEY: And there were moments that I questioned whether or not they were still with us. But hope is alive today, and our dreams have been answered.
CORLEY: Twenty-seven-year-old Berry had been expected to come out to make a statement. But as the crowd swelled, it was her sister, Beth Berry Serrano, who, fighting back tears, came out instead.
BETH BERRY SERRANO: We appreciate all you have done for us throughout the past 10 years. Please respect our privacy until we are ready to make our statement. And thank you.
CORLEY: In 2006, Berry's mother, Louwana Miller, died from a heart attack while her daughter was still in captivity. City Councilwoman Dona Brady, who befriended the family, said Miller always believed her daughter was alive.
COUNCILWOMAN DONA BRADY: She would be ecstatic.
CORLEY: Twenty-three-year-old Gina DeJesus also returned home today. She gave a thumbs-up as she was quickly escorted into her house. Her aunt sent a release which thanked supporters and urged neighbors not to retaliate against the families of the suspects.
Police arrested the three suspects Monday: 52-year-old former bus driver Ariel Castro and his two brothers, 54-year-old Pedro Castro and 50-year-old Onil Castro. Some neighbors called Ariel Castro a regular guy who played bass guitar in salsa bands, while others said they hardly knew the house was occupied.
Police confirmed today, during the search of the Castro home, they found chains and ropes and that the women were bound. Elise Cintron(ph), who lives just a few doors away from the Castro house, says officers may have been able to find the women earlier. Cintron says, last year, her young granddaughter said she saw a woman in the backyard of Castro's home.
ELISE CINTRON: Naked, crawling back there, no clothes. She had nothing on. And the following day, she told me about it. I told him to stay away from there.
CORLEY: Cintron says when she told police later, there was no follow-through. This morning, the mayor's office called reports of repeated calls to the police about suspicious activity and the mistreatment of the women false. They said an internal review of police communication records found the officers went to the house twice on unrelated calls. And Police Commander McCartney said he was confident about the department's approach and how the city's detective unit handles missing persons reports.
MCCARTNEY: The tactics we used, I do not question. The investigation, I will not question. Certainly, there's always could have, would have, should have. Anybody who's human would have that.
CORLEY: Despite questions about police diligence, the rescue of the women has given hope to the relatives of others who are missing, including the mother of a 14-year-old girl who says she's waiting for her miracle. Her daughter disappeared near the house where the women were found. Cheryl Corley, NPR News, Cleveland.