Cleveland Kidnap Victim to Ariel Castro: ‘Your Hell Is Just Beginning’
Michelle Knight, one of three Cleveland women kidnapped, raped and held captive for more than ten years by Ariel Castro, testified at his sentencing hearing on Thursday. While choking back tears she told her former captor, "I served 11 years of hell. Now your hell is just beginning."
Knight went on to say that the only good thing to come from her years in Castro's house of horrors was her friendship with fellow abductee Gina DeJesus. Gina “saved my life when I was dying from his abuse,” she said.
DeJesus' cousin Sylvia Colon also submitted a statement saying that the family wishes to close the chapter on these horrors and focus on Gina's new life.
"We stand before you and promise you that our beloved family member thrives," Colon wrote. "She laughs, swims, dances, and more importantly she loves and is loved. We are comforted in knowing that she will continue to flourish. She will finish school, go to college, fall in love, and if she chooses, will get married and have children. She is where we will continue to put in our energy. She lives not a victim, but as a survivor. Her insurmountable will to prevail is the only story worth discussing."
For the third victim, Amanda Berry, and her family it is all about privacy for the sake of Berry's 6-year-old daughter with Castro.
Her sister Beth Serrano said in a statement, "When people say things and file things in court, it is public. It gets written about and talked about. By people we don't know. Amanda's concern is that her daughter will hear about things, or read about things, said by the wrong people, the wrong way, at the wrong time. Before Amanda thinks the time is right to tell her daughter."
She added that Amanda is grateful the case is coming to a close and that Berry "is strong, beautiful, inside and out, and is doing better every day."
Castro tried to tell the court, "these people are trying to paint me as a monster and I'm not a monster. I'm sick,” saying he never tortured the women, but had an “addiction” that he was “driven by sex.”
Although at one point he claimed he only plead guilty to spare the victims from having to go to trial, he later apologized to the women and asked them to “please find it in your heart to forgive me.”
[Credit: Getty Images]
As Judge Michael Russo handed down the sentence of life in prison plus 1,000 years, he told Castro the time was "commensurate with the harm you've done” and that he is “too dangerous” to be out in the community.
Castro abducted Knight, DeJesus and Berry in Cleveland and held them captive in his nondescript home. Berry made national headlines last May after her dramatic escape.