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3 Women Who Disappeared Over 9 Years Ago Found Alive In Cleveland

By Jen Chung in News on May 7, 2013 5:01AM

Three women who went missing in different incidents over nine years ago were found alive in a Cleveland home. One woman called 911, "Help me, I am Amanda Berry. I've been kidnapped and I've been missing for 10 years. And I'm here and I'm free now."

Berry, who went missing the day before her 17th birthday in 2003, along with Gina Dejesus, who was 14 when she disappeared in 2004, and Michele Knight, who went missing in 2002, were taken to the hospital for evaluation, but seemed to be in good health. Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson said, "I am thankful that Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michele Knight have been found alive. We have many unanswered questions regarding this case and the investigation will be ongoing. Again, I am thankful that these three young ladies are found and alive."

A 52-year-old man was arrested and the AP reports that a local councilman, Brian Cummins, "said the suspect's name is Ariel Castro. Castro used to work as a bus driver for the Cleveland Metropolitan School District, according to district spokeswoman Roseann Canfora. She did not have specifics Monday night on how long he was employed, when he left, or whether he was fired or left voluntarily." Update: Three men were arrested; The Plain Dealer reports that they are "three brothers, ages 50, 52 and 54," and neighbors say the 52-year-old was Castro.

One neighbor, Charles Ramsey, saw Berry breaking out of the house and called 911. You can hear his call which has strong language—the operator asked him to ask Berry if she needed an ambulance; after asking her, he replied, "She's in a panic...she's been kidnapped... put yourself in her shoes!" Ramsey, who is black, also spoke to TV reporters about how he and other neighbors were helping Berry escape by breaking down the door, "I knew something was wrong when a little pretty white girl ran into a black man’s arms. Something is wrong here. Dead giveaway... Either she's homeless or she's got problems."

Castro was arrested at a nearby McDonald's. According to the Plain Dealer, Castro knew the DeJesus family: "Julio Castro said that his nephew used to play bass in various bands that performed at a local club once owned by DeJesus’ uncle. He said he believes his nephew knew the family from the club and the neighborhood." Also, there was a "June 2004 story that appeared in a West Side neighborhood newspaper was written by someone named Ariel Castro and described the community’s anxiety since the disappearance of DeJesus and Berry... It is unclear whether the author is the suspect."

Berry is now 27, DeJesus is 23 and Knight is 32. Neighbors are shocked that the women were right there. One said, "We never saw the girls there and we were always outside. We only saw the guy."