Three women who went missing separately about a decade ago, when they were in their teens or early 20s, had been tied up but were found alive Monday in a residential area just south of downtown, and three brothers were arrested, police said.
One of those arrested is a 52-year-old man, police say. The women were being treated at the hospital. A 6-year-old also was found in the home.
One of the women, Amanda Berry, was last heard from in 2003, when she called her sister to say she was getting a ride home from the Burger King restaurant where she worked, reported the Cleveland TV station WEWS. She was to turn 17 the day after she disappeared.
Another of the women, Gina DeJesus, was 14 when she went missing on April 2, 2004. She was walking home from school.
The third woman, Michelle Knight, 32, had been missing since 2002.
Ariel Castro, the owner of the home where the women were found, has been arrested, according to The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer. Live TV reports showed hundreds of people and media gathered outside the Cleveland home, where the women were found.
A recording of the 911 call reveals a frantic Berry calling for police.
“Help, I’m Amanda Berry … I need police. I’ve been kidnapped,” she says. “I’ve been missing for 10 years. I’m here and I’m free now.” She asked that police respond quickly, before Castro returned to the home.
The women were being evaluating by doctors at the MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland. At a press conference outside the hospital, Dr. Gerald Maloney declined to go into detail about the women’s condition.
“They are safe. We are evaluating their medical needs,” Maloney said. As he spoke, a man in the crowd of onlookers shouted, “We love you, Amanda,” and the crowd cheered.
Police have scheduled a press conference for Tuesday.
In January, The Associated Press noted, a prison inmate was sentenced to 4 1/2 years after admitting he provided a false burial tip in the disappearance of 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 in a Cleveland lot. He was taken to the location, which was dug up with backhoes, the AP reported.
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.
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 DeJesus’ body. Investigators confiscated 19 pieces of evidence during their search but declined to comment on the significance of the items then.
No Amber Alert was issued the day DeJesus failed to return home from school in April 2004 because no one witnessed her abduction. The lack of an Amber Alert angered her father, Felix DeJesus, who said in 2006 he believed the public will listen even if the alerts become routine.
“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.”
Cleveland police said then that the alerts must be reserved for cases in which danger is imminent and the public can be of help in locating the suspect and child.