Timeline: 3 Cleveland girls go missing; no word of them for 10 years
CLEVELAND, Ohio (CNN) — Lorain Avenue is where the nightmare began for three women held captive in a Cleveland home for roughly a decade.
Amanda Berry, Georgina DeJesus and Michelle Knight each vanished from the inner city thoroughfare.
Their families reported them missing, but neighbors living near their captors failed to notice their plight, and authorities never found them. Then, on Monday, Berry broke free, when a neighbor heeded her cries and kicked open the front door to the house that had been a jail to the abducted women.
From their disappearance to their liberation, the suspects’ arrest and the investigation, this is the course of events we are aware of so far in order of their occurrence:
• August 22, 2002 — Michelle Knight is last seen. The next day, she is reported missing. She is 21 at the time, Cleveland police say.
• April 21, 2003 — Amanda Berry is last seen after finishing her shift at a Burger King restaurant on the eve of her 17th birthday. Later that month a man calls her family from Berry’s cell phone, saying he has taken her and that she will be home in a few days.
• January 2004 — Investigators visit the home of now-kidnapping suspect Ariel Castro at the request of child services to investigate a complaint that he left a child alone on a bus during the time he worked as a bus driver. They knock, but no one answers. They have no idea what horrible things may be going on inside the house.
Castro had previous 60-day suspensions from his job for leaving a child on a bus, for making a U-turn in heavy traffic with a bus full of students and for using a bus to go grocery shopping.
Police also stopped at Castro’s home once, when he called them about a fight in the street nearby.
• April 2, 2004 — Georgina DeJesus stops at a pay phone with a friend around 3:00 p.m. to ask the friend’s mother if the two can sleep over at DeJesus’ house. The answer is no. It is the last time she is seen for more than nine years.
• April 2004 — America’s Most Wanted features Berry’s and DeJesus’ stories, pointing out that they were taken from nearly the same spot on Lorain Avenue.
• Late 2004 — Berry’s mother, Louwana Miller, makes an appearance on the Montel Williams show, where a television psychic predicts she will not see her daughter again alive. Miller dies in 2006 of heart failure. Relatives say the grief over losing her daughter damaged her health. In the years after her death there are two leads purporting her death — both are false.
• September 2006 — Police dig up the garage floor of a Cleveland residence after receiving a false tip that Gina DeJesus was buried there.
• July 2007 — A third girl, Ashley Summers, who has not been found, disappears from the same area. She is 14 at the time. Investigators and the family hope the liberation of Berry, DeJesus and Knight will offer insight into her case.
• 2009 — Members of Berry’s and DeJesus’ families appear on the Oprah Winfrey show.
• November 2011 — Neighbor Israel Lugo calls police, when he hears yelling in the Castro home, but officers leave, when no one answered the door, he said.
• November 2011 — A neighbor reportedly calls the police after seeing a woman through an attic window at the Castro home. Cleveland police say they have no record of the call. They say neighbors have offered no tips during the extent of the women’s captivity.
• May/June 2012 — Nina Samoylicz, who lives nearby, calls 911 after seeing a naked woman in the backyard at 2207 Seymour. Again, police don’t immediately see a record of the call. Samoylicz says she has also seen tarps covering the back yard.
• 2011 — Tito DeJesus, who says he is not related to Georgina, enters the home to help deliver a washer and dryer he has sold to Ariel Castro, with whom he plays in a band. He does not detect anything out of the ordinary and later describes the home as “a normal environment.”
• Sunday, May 5, 2013 — The day before Berry escapes and all are freed, neighbor Lugo encounters Castro at the park walking with a little girl. Castro tells him it is his girlfriend’s daughter.
• Monday, May 6, 2013 — Berry screams for help through a crack in the front door at 2207 Seymour. Neighbor Charles Ramsey comes to her aid and kicks open the door. They both call 911.
– “I’ve been kidnapped, and I’ve been missing for 10 years,” the 27-year-old Berry says on the call. “And I’m here. I’m free now.”
– Police arrive to find DeJesus and Knight at the home as well.
– Berry has a 6-year-old girl with her. It’s her own, she tells a relative.
– Berry, DeJesus, Knight and the child are taken to a local hospital for evaluation.
– Three men are detained in the women’s disappearance — 52-year-old Ariel Castro, 54-year-old Pedro Castro and 50-year-old Onil Castro.
• Tuesday, May 7, 2013 — At least two of the women and the child are released from the hospital and have more contact with family members they have been separated from. Knight may still be in hospital.
– In northern Ohio, balloons dot the front yard of the home of 23-year-old DeJesus. A sign proclaiming that she is missing still hangs on the fence. It has been there for nine years.
– Castro’s neighbors speak of their astonishment that they had not noticed what was allegedly going on at the address.
– A cadaver dog searches the home. FBI agents in protective suits enter the house, and investigators remove items, including an amplifier, a storm door and black plastic bags full of objects.
– An FBI spokeswoman says a child victim specialist has interviewed all three abducted women as well as Berry’s 6-year-old daughter.
– Authorities tow away a Jeep Cherokee and a red pickup truck from the home.
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