3 women, missing for a decade, found alive in Ohio
Cleveland's police chief says he thinks three women who went missing separately a decade ago were tied up in the house where they were found and had been there since they disappeared.
Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight were found, along with a 6-year-old child. Police say the women were being held captive until neighbors say they heard Berry kicking the door and begging for help. One woman who lived across the street from where three women had been held captive, says she told one of them, "You're not Amanda Berry. Amanda Berry is dead."
Three men are under arrest. One of the alleged captors is being identified as Ariel Castro. Castro's uncle says he used to work as a school bus driver. The 52-year-old lived in the home where the women were being held. Castro's 50-and 54-year-old brothers are also in custody. There are no details right now as to the charges those men might face.
The county prosecutor joined dozens of police officers and sheriff's deputies at the scene as they began searching the house late Monday.
Authorities say Berry, DeJesus and Knight were taken to a hospital Monday night to reunite with relatives and seem to be in good health.
Berry and DeJesus disappeared as teenagers in 2003 and 2004, respectively. The Plain Dealer newspaper reports Knight had been missing since 2002.
On a recorded 911 call Monday, Berry said she had been taken by someone and pleaded for police officers to arrive at the home on Cleveland's west side before he returned.
She told the dispatcher: "I've been kidnapped, and I've been missing for 10 years. And I'm here. I'm free now."
Police say a 52-year-old man was arrested. There's no immediate word on charges.
Cheering crowds gathered Monday night on the street near the home where police said the women were found earlier in the day.
Berry disappeared at age 16 on April 21, 2003, when she called her sister to say she was getting a ride home from her job at a Burger King. DeJesus went missing at age 14 on her way home from school about a year later.
In January, a prison inmate was sentenced to 4 1/2 years after admitting he provided a false burial tip in the disappearance of Berry, who had last been seen the day before her 17th birthday. A judge in Cleveland sentenced Robert Wolford on his guilty plea to obstruction of justice, making a false report and making a false alarm.
Last summer, Wolford tipped authorities to look for Berry's remains in a Cleveland lot. He was taken to the location, which was dug up with backhoes.
Berry's mother, Louwana Miller, who had been hospitalized for months with pancreatitis and other ailments, 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.
Two men arrested for questioning in the disappearance of DeJesus in 2004 were released from the city jail in 2006 after officers did not find her body during a search of the men's house.
One of the men was transferred to the Cuyahoga County Jail on unrelated charges, while the other was allowed to go free, police said.
In September 2006, police acting on a tip tore up the concrete floor of the garage and used a cadaver dog to search unsuccessfully for DeJesus' body. Investigators confiscated 19 pieces of evidence during their search but declined to comment on the significance of the items then.
No Amber Alert was issued the day DeJesus failed to return home from school in April 2004 because no one witnessed her abduction. The lack of an Amber Alert angered her father, Felix DeJesus, who said in 2006 he believed the public will listen even if the alerts become routine.
"The Amber Alert should work for any missing child," Felix DeJesus said then. "It doesn't have to be an abduction. Whether it's an abduction or a runaway, a child needs to be found. We need to change this law."
Cleveland police said then that the alerts must be reserved for cases in which danger is imminent and the public can be of help in locating the suspect and child.
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