Three Ohio women who were snatched off the same Cleveland block about 10 years ago were found alive in the home of a Cleveland school bus driver on Monday.
The driver, Ariel Castro, 52, was taken into custody Monday along with his 2 brothers. Castro kept the women hidden in a basement for 10 years, according to police. At least one of the women gave birth to a daughter, now 6, while in captivity.
Charles Ramsey, a neighbor who rescued Amanda Berry, 27, Gina DeJesus, 23, and Michelle Knight, 32, said he was at McDonald’s when he heard a woman screaming hysterically inside a nearby house.
“This girl is kicking the door and screaming,” he told local NBC affiliate WKYC-TV.
Ramsey said the woman screamed, “Help me get out! I’m Amanda Berry… I’ve been missing for 10 years!” Ramsey said he believed the woman was involved in a domestic violence dispute.
Berry was snatched at age 16 in 2003, as she left her job at McDonald’s. DeJesus was 14 when she was taken while walking home from school in 2004. Knight was kidnapped in 2002.
Ramsey and another man broke down the door so Berry could escape. “We had to kick open the bottom,” Ramsey told WEWS-TV. “Lucky on that door it was aluminum. It was cheap. She climbed out with her daughter.”
“I knew something was wrong when a little pretty white girl ran into a black man’s arms,” Ramsey told the station. “Either she homeless or she’s got problems. That’s the only reason she’d run to a black man!”
Ramsey said he gave Berry his cell phone to call 911. He said her name didn’t register because he thought she was dead.
Berry told the 911 kidnapper who she was and that she had been kidnapped 10 years ago. She begged the dispatcher to send the police.
When the dispatcher asked Berry what her captor was wearing, she replied Castro wasn’t home. “I need them now before he gets back,” she pleaded.
The Cleveland Plain Dealer reported Castro was arrested at the nearby McDonald’s restaurant.
Ironically, Castro’s son, also named Ariel who now goes by “Anthony”, wrote an article about Gina DeJesus’ disappearance for the Cleveland Plain Press back in 2004.
The three women were transported to a local hospital where they were reunited with their families.
Ramsey said he saw Castro in the neighborhood every day. “You got some big testicles to pull this off, bro,” said Ramsey of Castro. “I barbecued with this dude. We ate ribs,” said Ramsey.
A video of Ramsey’s interview has already gone viral online. (Watch the interview below). Ramsey may be eligible for a $25,000 reward offered for the whereabouts of the three missing women.
Authorities believed they had a break in the case last Summer when they received a tip from an inmate who said Berry’s body could be found buried in a vacant lot.
Police used backhoes to dig up the lot but no body was found. The inmate, Robert Wolford, was given an additional 4 years in prison for making a false report and obstruction of justice.
Berry’s sister, Beth Serrano, (pictured above left with Amanda and her daughter in the hospital) was relieved after the search was called off for Berry’s body. She said it meant that her sister was still alive. Serrano wrote a letter to the Cleveland police and the FBI thanking them for continuing their efforts to find Berry.
“It’s been nine long years,” she wrote. “I’m just wishing someone would say something and bring my sister home.”
A psychic who appeared as a guest on the Montel Williams Show told Berry’s mother that her daughter was dead.
Michelle Knight’s mother thinks her daughter’s disappearance didn’t receive as much news coverage as Berry because Michelle was considered a runaway.
Cheering crowds gathered outside the house and the hospital after the news broke that the women had been found. Cleveland residents were very familiar with the disappearance cases because of the extensive news coverage given to the vigils and rallies held for the women over the years.
“This is our own backyard,” neighbor Charlie Czorba told The Plain Dealer. “These girls were locked up in our own backyard.”
The Ohio case is reminiscent of Jaycee Lee Duggard, the South Lake Tahoe, California woman who was 11-years-old when she was abducted from a school bus stop by pedophile Phillip Craig Garrido, 58, and his wife Nancy Garrido, 54, of Antioch, California. Duggard was held captive for 18 years in a tent in the Garrido’s backyard. She gave birth to 2 daughters while in captivity. Garrido was sentenced to 431 years in prison; his wife received a sentence of 36 years to life.