Sunday 21 December 2014

Three Ohio kidnapping victims speak publicly for the first time

Published 09/07/2013 | 07:34

Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight have thanked the public for their support.

The three women held captive in a basement for ten years have spoken publicly for the first time, and thanked the public for the onslaught of support they have received since returning from what the describe as "hell".

Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight have made a special video honouring their friends, family, neighbours and contributors to their charity, the Courage Fund.

Each of the young women had gone missing separately between 2002 and 2004, when they were 14, 16, and 20 years old. Ariel Castro of Cleveland, Ohio has pleaded not guilty to the kidnapping charges. Castro fathered a six-year-old girl with Miss Berry and is accused of starving and punching Miss Knight, who miscarried as a result.

Berry starts off the three minute video by saying: "I want everyone to know how happy I am to be at home with my family and friends, it's been unbelievable. Everyone who has been there to support us has been a blessing to have such an outpour of kindness.

"Having my privacy has helped immensely, I ask that everyone continues to respect our privacy and give us time to have a normal life."

Gina DeJesus in the YouTube video posted late Monday night
Amanda Berry
Michelle Knight
Ariel Castrol, 52
The Cleveland home where the three women were held captive in the basement for several years

Miss Knight passionately spoke of recovering from her ordeal and explained that she is doing "just fine" as she continues to recover from the years of captivity. And she is now focusing the next chapter of her life on helping other kidnapping survivors.

"Thank you everyone for your help, support and donations, which helped me build a brand new life," she began. "I want everyone to know I'm doing just fine. I may have been through hell and back, but I am strong enough to walk through hell with a smile on my face, my head held high and my feet firmly on the ground; walking hand in hand with my best friend.

God has a plan for all of us, a plan that gave me was to help others that have been in the same situation that I have been in, to know there is someone out there to lean on and talk to."

Gina DeJesus was joined by her father, Felix DeJesus and Nancy Ruiz, all of whom praised their neighbours for their continued presence as they rebuild their lives.

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