Police try to track a decade worth of clues on 3 missing women
In a Tuesday morning news conference, Cleveland authorities confirmed they arrested three men in connection to three women found alive in Ohio — a decade or more after they were reported missing. Police said they’ve arrested Ariel Castro, Pedro Castro and Oneil Castro, but it’s unclear what charges may follow.
Authorities said they have no indication that anybody living near the Cleveland home were the three women were believed to have been held captive for years ever called authorities with suspicions.
On Monday, the three women who disappeared more than 10 years ago in separate cases were found together in Cleveland, Ohio, police said.
One of the women called 911 after breaking out of the house where she had been living.
“Help me, I am Amanda Berry,” she said, her voice distraught and quick, according to an audio recording of the call released Monday night. “I’ve been kidnapped and I’ve been missing for 10 years. And I’m here and I’m free now.”
Another 911 call came in less than a minute later from a man who saw Berry busting out of the house.
City Public Safety Director Martin Flask said investigators had conducted an initial review of city databases, and so far found no reports of anyone calling in tips or suspicions that the girls might be there. Officials said they will continue to examine the database.
“She’s like, ‘This (expletive) kidnapped me and my daughter,’” Charles Ramsey, the neighbor who helped her, told 911. Berry is the mother of a 6-year-old girl, also found in the home.
“I see this girl going nuts trying to get out of a house,” Ramsey told CNN affiliate WEWS. “I go on the porch and she says, ‘Help me get out. I’ve been in here a long time.’”
Figuring it was a domestic dispute, Ramsey kicked in the bottom of the door and the woman came out with a little girl and said, “Call 911, my name is Amanda Berry,” according to Ramsey, who admitted he didn’t recognize the name or know she was missing.
A 52-year-old man has been arrested, Cleveland police said on their website. Brian Cummins, a councilman who represents the area where the women were found, said the suspect’s name is Ariel Castro.
Two others, identified as his brothers, ages 50 and 54, also have been arrested, Deputy Police Chief Ed Tomba told reporters late Monday. Police believe only the middle brother lived at the home, he said.
Castro used to work as a bus driver for the Cleveland Metropolitan School District, according to district spokeswoman Roseann Canfora. She did not have specifics Monday night on how long he was employed, when he left or whether he was fired or left voluntarily.
When asked if the owner of the Cleveland home where three long-missing women were found Monday had gained their trust through his job as a school bus driver, and whether he had driven them when they were students, Cleveland Deputy Police Chief Ed Tomba said investigators have no evidence of that. “That’s up to the girls to tell us,” Tomba said Tuesday. “We still don’t know; that is one of the great unknowns right now. We anticipate getting that information from the ladies, not the suspects.”
Berry was last seen in 2003 after finishing her shift at Burger King in Cleveland. It was the eve of her 17th birthday. Georgina “Gina” DeJesus disappeared a year later in April 2004 at the age of 14. Michele Knight vanished in 2002, at age 19, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer newspaper.
Ramsey told reporters the suspect wasn’t known for anything exciting — “until today.”
“We see this dude every day. I’ve been here a year. I barbecued with this dude. We eat ribs and listen to salsa music,” Ramsey said.
“We never saw the girls there, and we were always outside,” she said. “We only saw the guy.”
The uncle of the three brothers in custody after the discovery of three missing Cleveland women said family members are “surprised” over the developments. “Shame on you,” Julio Castro told CNN’s Martin Savidge, when asked what he would say to his nephews.
The three women are in fair condition, Gerald Maloney, an emergency department physician at Metro Health Medical Center, said Monday night.
“I am thankful that Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michele Knight have been found alive,” Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson said. “We have many unanswered questions regarding this case and the investigation will be ongoing. Again, I am thankful that these three young ladies are found and alive.”
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