World News

Wednesday 30 July 2014

Women missing for years found alive

Published 07/05/2013|04:51

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Police arrested three brothers, including Onil Castro, accused of holding the victims against their will (AP/Cleveland Police Department)
Police arrested three brothers, including Pedro J Castro, accused of holding the victims against their will (AP/Cleveland Police Department)
Members of the FBI evidence team remove items from a house in Cleveland after three women who went missing were found (AP)

Three women who went missing as girls in separate incidents 10 years ago have been found alive and well in the US after being held prisoner by three brothers.

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The women, and a six-year-old girl apparently born to one of them while in captivity, were in a suburban house in Cleveland, Ohio, just a few miles from where they vanished. All were able to return to their tearful families after being checked in hospital.

The house owner, Ariel Castro ,52, and two of his brothers Pedro 54, and Onil ,50, have been arrested suspected of abducting Amanda Berry, thought to be the six-year-old's mother, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight.

Ms Berry disappeared aged 16 on April 21, 2003, on her way home from work at a burger restaurant. Ms DeJesus went missing aged 14 on her way home from school about a year later. Ms Knight went missing in 2002 aged 20 and is 32 now.

Cleveland mayor Frank Jackson said the investigation into their abductions had only just begun and there were several key unanswered questions. "Why were they taken, who took them and how did they remain undetected for so long?"

They were rescued after Amanda Berry was freed from the house by neighbours who heard her screaming. She made a frantic telephone call to emergency services and told them that she had been abducted. Neighbours said they previously had no idea the women were in the house and were first alerted when they heard someone kicking at a door, yelling for help and trying desperately to get outside the house.

Neighbours said Ms Berry was nervous, crying and appeared dressed in pyjamas and old sandals. On the recorded emergency call she frantically declared, "I'm Amanda Berry. I've been on the news for the last 10 years." She said she had been taken by someone and begged for police officers to arrive at the home on Cleveland's west side before he returned.

One neighbour said he had eaten barbecues with the home's owner Castro and never suspected something was amiss. "There was nothing exciting about him - well, until today," he said.

The women's relatives said they had not given up hope of seeing them again. Ms Berry's cousin Tasheena Mitchell said she could not wait to have her in her arms."I'm going to hold her, and I'm going to squeeze her and I probably won't let her go," she said.

Ms Berry's mother, Louwana Miller, who had been hospitalised for months, died in March 2006. She had spent the previous three years looking for her daughter, whose disappearance took a toll as her health steadily deteriorated, family and friends said.

Press Association

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