Wed, May 08, 2013 - Page 1 News List

Three women rescued years after vanishing

Reuters, CLEVELAND, Ohio

An image obtained yesterday courtesy of WOIO TV shows Amanda Berry, center, reunited with her sister, left, on Monday in Cleveland, Ohio.

Photo: AFP

Three women who vanished separately as teenagers about a decade ago were found alive in a house in Cleveland, with police arresting three brothers, including a school bus driver.

Authorities were alerted to the missing women’s whereabouts on Monday evening by a frantic emergency call from one of them, Amanda Berry, moments after she was freed from the house by a neighbor who said he heard screaming and came to her aid.

“Help me! I’m Amanda Berry ... I’ve been kidnapped and I’ve been missing for 10 years and I’m here. I’m free now,” Berry, now 26, is heard telling a 911 operator in a recording of the call released by police and posted on the Internet.

Berry had last been seen leaving her job at a fast-food restaurant the day before her 17th birthday in April 2003. The two women found with her were identified by authorities as Gina DeJesus, 23, who vanished in 2004 aged 14 while walking home from school, and Michelle Knight, who was reported to have been 18 or 19 when she went missing in 2002.

A physician at MetroHealth Medical Center, where the three women were taken for evaluation, said all were safe and appeared to be in “fair condition.”

“This isn’t the ending we usually have to these stories,” Gerald Maloney said. “We’re very happy for them.”

The three were released from the medical center yesterday morning, a hospital spokeswoman said. She provided no other details.

The house is close to where each woman was last seen, and police believe they were in the home for the entire time they were missing. The circumstances of their apparent abductions and captivity remained murky, but officials said further details would be disclosed at a news conference early yesterday.

During her 911 call, Berry gave the name of a man she said had abducted her. She said he had left the house and urged police to come quickly before he returned. She indicated that she knew her disappearance had been widely reported in the media.

The neighbor who came to her assistance, Charles Ramsey, said that after he helped Berry force open the door, she emerged from the dwelling “with a little girl,” but authorities said nothing about the presence of any children in the house.

All three women were from the west-side section of Cleveland where they ultimately resurfaced.

There was no word on the fate of a fourth missing girl, Ashley Summers, who disappeared from the same vicinity in July 2007 aged 14 and who police investigated as possibly linked to the Berry and DeJesus cases, according to the Charley Project Web site, which documents more than 9,000 missing-persons cases.

The suspects, aged 50, 52 and 54, were arrested based on information given to investigators by the three women after their rescue, Deputy Cleveland Police Chief Ed Tomba said.

One of the men was identified as Ariel Castro, 52, who has worked as a bus driver for Cleveland public schools and whose uncle said he owned the house in question.

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