Kidnap Victim Gina DeJesus Was 'Best Friends' with Suspect’s Daughter
The harrowing nightmare is finally over for kidnap victims Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight, who were abducted as girls and held captive in a Cleveland, Ohio home for more than 10 years.
News is surfacing that DeJesus, who was taken at 14, likely knew suspect Ariel Castro before she vanished on her way home from school in 2004.
In a surprising turn of events, video has hit the web of Castro's daughter, Arlene, telling "America's Most Wanted" that she was the last person to see Gina the day she was kidnapped. Arlene claims the girls were best friends and were walking home together.
At one point, Arlene wanted to call home to ask if she could go to Gina's for the afternoon. She borrowed 50 cents to use the pay phone, but her mom said "no." The girls parted ways and DeJesus didn't have enough money left for bus fare.
Family members also told Action News 19's Lydia Esparra that Castro is related to Gina's best friend, and that he attended at least two vigils for the missing women.
In another surreal twist, the New York Daily News reports that Castro's other daughter, Emily, was convicted of attempted murder and is currently serving 25 years in prison for slashing her 11-month-old daughter's throat. WKYC also says Castro's son Anthony wrote an article in 2004 about how DeJesus' story had changed the neighborhood (she was found two miles from where she disappeared). He was a journalism student at Bowling Green University at the time.
Castro, 52, who owns the Cleveland home, is one of three men arrested in the case, along with brothers Pedro, 54, and Oneil, 50.
[Credit: Cleveland Dept. of Public Safety]
A house of horrors scenario has emerged since the victims' discovery. Sources told Action News 19 that two women were likely held in the basement and another in a room upstairs. In one room, chains were reportedly hanging from the ceiling.
It has also come to light that Amanda Berry gave birth to a daughter while held captive. The daughter, now 6, was with Amanda when she made her dramatic escape on Monday.
Berry desperately screamed for help and managed to wave down a neighbor who helped Berry break down a door and call 911.
The now 27-year-old can be heard on the 911 tape, pleading, "Help me, I'm Amanda Berry. I've been kidnapped and I've been missing for ten years and I'm here. I'm free now."
Police rescued Berry, her daughter, DeJesus and Knight and took them to Metrohealth Medical Center. Police told ABC 5 they were in good health and of sound mind.
While in the hospital, Amanda had a tearful reunion with older sister Beth Serrano and introduced Beth to her daughter. Check out the photo here. Berry disappeared in 2003, a day before her 17th birthday, after calling to let her sister know she was getting a ride home from her job at Burger King.
In 2004, Berry's mom Louwana Miller made an appearance on the "Montel Williams Show" to ask famous psychic Sylvia Browne about her daughter. Browne delivered some devastating news, “She's not alive, honey. Your daughter's not the kind who wouldn't call.” Miller told Cleveland.com that she "lost it" once she got home.
Louwana died of pancreatitis and other ailments in 2006, but friend and Cleveland councilwoman Dona Brady says, "She literally died of a broken heart."
While Amanda and Gina's stories were both widely publicized, little is known about Michelle Knight. The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that family members believed Michelle had left on her own accord when she disappeared in 2002, having just lost a custody battle over her son. As time passed and Knight failed to make contact, her mother became suspicious and began searching for her. Michelle was either 18 or 20 in 2002 (reports vary).
The FBI now has the women in protective custody at a remote location. The three suspects in the case were arrested and are in custody.