CLEVELAND, May 6, 2013 — An alert neighbor saw a young woman pounding on a door, yelling for help. He acted, only to discover the young woman was Amanda Berry, missing for over 10 years. Reports are that he though it strange to see a “white woman yelling for help in this neighborhood.”
That neighbor helped Berry to knock down the door and facilitated her escape, along with that of Georgina ‘Gina’ DeJesus and a third woman, Michelle Knight, who disappeared in 2000 at age 20.
Berry ran across the street carrying a child, who a neighbor reports was wearing a wig, and begged to use the phone to call 911, saying, “I am Amanda Berry, the one that disappeared years ago. I have been on the news.”
Both Berry and DeJesus went missing as teenagers a decade ago. They were rescued in a residential area about two miles south of downtown. Reports are that Cleveland police officers found the women and two children, one about three, the other about nine years of age, at 2210 Seymour Avenue.
The women have been taken to Metro Health Medical Center where their families are waiting to be reunited with them. Reports are that other than dehydration, they seem to be physically well.
“I heard screaming … And I see this girl going nuts trying to get outside,” said Charles Ramsey, the neighbor who found the women. “I go on the porch and she said ‘Help me get out. I’ve been here a long time.’ I figure it was domestic violence dispute.”
“She comes out with a little girl and says ‘Call 911, my name is Amanda Berry’ … When she told me, it didn’t register.”
Berry was holding the hand of a young child, another woman was holding an infant, and unconfirmed reports claim that there were other children in the house. (Note: Information provided is that there was only one child, approximately 9 years old.)
Berry disappeared April 21, 2003, one day before her 17th birthday. She was last seen after calling her sister to say she was getting a ride home from work at the Burger King on West 110th Street and Lorain Avenue.
On April 2, 2004, 14-year-old DeJesus disappeared walking home from Wilbur Wright Middle School. She was last seen around West 105 Street and Lorain Avenue. Her mother, Nancy Ruiz, always said she believed DeJesus was sold into human trafficking.
Ariel Castro, aged 52, has been taken into custody. Castro is reported to have been a school bus driver for the Cleveland Metropolitan School district. The neighbor reports that Castro never spoke to them and they know nothing about him.
Cleveland police and the families have never stopped looking for the girls. Amanda Berry’s mother recently passed away.
Last January, a false burial tip in the search for Berry led to a prison inmate being sentenced to 4 1/2 years. A judge in Cleveland sentenced Robert Wolford on his guilty plea to obstruction of justice, making a false report, and making a false alarm.
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.
DeJesus’ father, Felix DeJesus, said in 2006 that he was angered after authorities failed to release an Amber Alert when his daughter failed to return home from school in April 2004. Amber Alerts are not issued unless it known that a child has been abducted.
“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.”
Crowds of community neighbors gathered to cheer as the police drove from the neighborhood. Police will hold a press conference in the morning, when more information will be disclosed.
Associated Press, Action News WXYZ.com and Jen Steer, Newsnets5.com contributed to this report