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Video: Cleveland Kidnapping Victims Release Moving 'Thank You' Message

By Chuck Sudo in News on Jul 9, 2013 1:30PM

From left to right: Gina DeJesus, Amanda Berry and Michelle Knight

Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight, the three Cleveland women who were allegedly kidnapped, held captive and raped by Ariel Castro in his home for nearly a decade, released a video thanking people for their support as they continue to re-acclimate themselves with the outside world.

The video, shot July 2 and released at midnight today, shows Berry, DeJesus and Knight in good spirits, with Berry and Knight speaking about their ordeal and moving on. Knight, who went missing in 2002, was held captive the longest and may have suffered hearing loss and other permanent physical damage, struggled a bit with her words as she described being "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 and with my feet firmly on the ground."

"I will not let the situation define who I am. I will define the situation,” she added, as she smiled. "I don't want to be consumed by hatred."

Berry, who went missing in 2004 and had a daughter, now age 6, while held in captivity, said her life since she escaped Castro's home in May has been "unbelievable."

“Everyone who has been there to support us has been a blessing,” Berry said before requesting continued privacy. DeJesus thanked everyone and her parents also spoke; her mother, Nancy Ruiz, urged people to "count on your neighbors."

Ariel Castro is being held on $8 million bond and pleaded not guilty in June of two counts of aggravated murder; 139 counts of rape; 177 charges of kidnapping; seven counts of gross sexual imposition; three counts of felony assault; and one count of possession of criminal tools dating from the time of Knight's disappearance until February 2007.


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Watch: Dramatic Footage Of Cleveland Kidnapping Rescue