Women tied up in house for years found alive




Women tied up in house for years found alive

Amanda Berry

Three women who went missing around a decade ago had been tied up and held in a home in Cleveland, Ohio, before being found alive, police said.

Three brothers have been arrested.

One of the women frantically told a police emergency dispatcher that the person who had taken her was gone and pleaded for police officers to come and get her, saying: “I’m free now.”

Cheering crowds gathered in the street near the home where police said Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight had been held since they went missing and were found yesterday.

Police did not immediately provide any details of how the women were found but said they appeared to be in good health and had been taken to a hospital to be reunited with relatives and to be evaluated.

They said a six-year-old was also found in the home.

On a recorded emergency call yesterday, Ms Berry declared: “I’m Amanda Berry. I’ve been on the news for the last 10 years.”

She said she had been taken by someone and begged for police officers to arrive at the home on Cleveland’s west side before he returned.

“I’ve been kidnapped, and I’ve been missing for 10 years,” she told the dispatcher. “And I’m here. I’m free now.”

Ms Berry disappeared at 16 on April 21 2003, when she called her sister to say she was getting a ride home from her job at a Burger King.

Ms DeJesus went missing at 14 on her way home from school about a year later. They were found just a few miles from where they disappeared.

Women tied up in house for years found alive

Gina DeJesus.

Police said Ms Knight, now 32, went missing in 2002.

They said one of the brothers, aged 52, lived at the home. They released no names and gave no details about the others arrested or what charges they might face.

Dozens of police officers and sheriff’s deputies remained at the scene awaiting a warrant to search the building where the women and the child were found.

Family members said they had not given up hope of seeing the women again. Among them was Kayla Rogers, a childhood friend of Ms DeJesus.

Women tied up in house for years found alive

Felix DeJesus holds a picture of Gina DeJesus in 2004.

“I’ve been praying, never forgot about her, ever,” Ms Rogers told The Plain Dealer newspaper.

“This is amazing. This is a celebration. I’m so happy. I just want to see her walk out of those doors so I can hug her.”

Ms Berry’s cousin Tasheena Mitchell told the newspaper she could not wait to have her in her arms.

“I’m going to hold her, and I’m going to squeeze her and I probably won’t let her go,” she said.

Ms Berry’s mother, Louwana Miller, who had been in hospital for months with pancreatitis and other ailments, died in March 2006. She had spent the previous three years looking for her daughter, whose disappearance took a toll as her health steadily deteriorated, family and friends said.

Mayor Frank Jackson expressed gratitude that the three women were found alive.

“We have many unanswered questions regarding this case, and the investigation will be ongoing,” he said.

At Metro Health Medical Centre, Dr Gerald Maloney declined to go into details about the women’s conditions.

“We’re assessing their needs, and the appropriate specialists are evaluating them as well,” he said at a news conference, which concluded with a round of applause from a large gathering of residents.

In January, a prison inmate was sentenced to four and a half years after admitting he provided a false burial tip in the disappearance of Ms Berry, who had last been seen the day before her 17th birthday.

A judge in Cleveland sentenced Robert Wolford on his guilty plea to obstruction of justice, making a false report and making a false alarm.

Last summer Wolford tipped authorities to look for Berry’s remains on a Cleveland site. He was taken to the location, which was dug up.

Two men arrested for questioning in the disappearance of Ms 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.

One of the men was transferred to the Cuyahoga County Jail on unrelated charges, while the other was allowed to go free, police said.

In September 2006, police acting on a tip tore up the concrete floor of the garage and used a cadaver dog to search unsuccessfully for Ms DeJesus’ body.

No special alert was issued the day Ms DeJesus failed to return home from school in April 2004 because no one witnessed her abduction.

The lack of an alert angered her father, Felix DeJesus, who said in 2006 he believed the public would listen even if the alerts became routine.

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