Missing Cleveland women found alive; three men arrested
Three women who disappeared a decade ago were found alive Monday night in a home in Cleveland, Ohio.
Police say Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight were held inside the house since they were in their teens or early 20s. They have been released from an area hospital and are said to be in good condition.
"These three young ladies have provided us with the ultimate definition of survival and perseverance," Steve Anthony, FBI special agent in charge of the Cleveland office, speaking at a news conference Tuesday. "The healing can now begin."
"Prayers have finally been answered. The nightmare is over," said Anthony.
Police officials say it will take several days to process the crime scene. They say their main concern is the physical and emotional well-being of the victims.
Knight disappeared in 2002, Berry in 2003 and DeJesus about a year after that. Police said Tuesday they went to the home in 2004 for an unrelated investigation but no one answered the door.
Officials say three brothers, ages 50 to 54, are in custody.
A Cleveland police official said a six-year-old girl found in the house is the daughter of Amanda Berry.
Brothers' relative 'shocked'
A relative of three brothers arrested in Cleveland says their family is "totally shocked" three women missing for years were found at the home of one of them.
Juan Alicea says the arrests of his wife's brothers have left relatives "as blindsided as anyone else" in their community.
Alicea says he hadn't been to the home of his brother-in-law Ariel Castro since the early 1990s. Three women who vanished separately about a decade ago were found captive Monday at the run-down house after one of them escaped and contacted police.
Alicea says he had eaten dinner with Castro at a different brother's house shortly before the arrests were made. No charges have been filed. Castro is jailed and can't be reached for comment.
The case leaves Cleveland police facing questions about their handling of missing-person cases. They're conducting an internal review.
A frantic 911 call led police to a house near downtown Cleveland, where the three women were found Monday.
NEW: Hear the 911 call made by a neighbor. (Please note this contains profanity and may not be suitable for some people. It is the unedited phone call that dispatchers received.)
Family and friends were ecstatic to hear the news.
"I knew she would come home," said Tasheena Mitchell, Amanda Berry's cousin.
Relatives suffered through ten years of heartache wondering what had become of the missing women. But they also harbored hope that someday they would be found - and that hope was vindicated Monday night.
Dozens of family, friends, and strangers who like so many over time have felt connected to the missing girls gathered outside the emergency room at Metrohealth Medical Center, crowding the doors, hugging, crying, smiling in amazement.
"The whole time down here I cried, but now I'm just excited. Excited to see her, excited to hold her, excited to squeeze her, excited to tell her how much I love her, miss her!" said Destiny Sneed, Berry's cousin.
Sneed and Mitchell never gave up when their cousin Amanda Berry, the same age as them, was taken away.
Neither did Kayla Rogers, Gina DeJesus' best friend.
"I remember the last time I seen her," she said. "I never forgot about her, ever."
There are so many memories not only of the teenage girls stolen from their families, but of the pain of waiting for answers.
"And I want every Sunday for these people to pray. Every Sunday," said William Burgos, Gina DeJesus' friend.
The home where the women were found was not far from the locations where they were abducted.
Police say a neighbor heard screams coming from the house and found one of the women who used his phone to call police.
"I've been kidnapped. I've been missing for 10 years. I'm here, I'm free now," Amanda Berry told the dispatch operator.
"I hear this girl going nuts on the door. So, when I come to the house and look I said that doesn't look right. So, I took her and pried the door open because how he had the door is you can't open the door completely. He had it locked some kind of way," said Charles Ramsey, a neighbor who assisted in the rescue.
Neighbors cheered in the street as police carried the girls to safety.
"It's a great day. I can't tell you for the families, these officers that have been working these cases for all these years," said Deputy Police Chief Ed Tomba, Cleveland Police Department.
The women were checked out at a local hospital, where officials said they were in good condition.
"This is really good because this isn't the ending we usually hear to these stories. So we're very happy," said Dr. Gerald Maloney.
At this point police aren't saying much about the suspects, who remain under arrest.
Two neighbors near the home say police were called twice in recent years to investigate suspicious activity there.
One man says he heard pounding on doors at the house. Another neighbor says her daughter once saw a naked woman crawling on her hands and knees in the backyard.