The harrowing tale of the three young women who vanished mysteriously almost a decade ago in three separate instances sends shivers down the spines of people all over the world. The victory of recovering these missing girls is bittersweet, and heartbreaking for the parents, friends, family and law enforcement who helped rescue them safely after learning the conditions in which they were living.
It began in August 2002, when Michelle Knight who recently lost custody of her son, went missing after leaving a cousins house just three miles away from the assailants house. Then a young Amanda Berry only 16 years of age, leaving work late at night from Burger King was offered a ride from Ariel Castro who claimed his son also worked at Burger King. Finally, in April 2004, he abducted the last girl only 14, Georgina (Gina) DeJesus walking home from school. These girls were thought to be forever gone and lost after years of their mysterious disappearances.
Although no one who knew Ariel Castro, 52, was a living monster, suspicions in the past had prompted several police calls and concerns. In January 2004, Castro, a school bus driver, was accused of leaving a child left unattended on one of his school buses, raising the suspicions of police. Child welfare officials had the police over to his house to investigate but further concluded no criminal intent was posed on the actual welfare of the students on his bus. The chilling realization that police officers were at the house where three young women were being tortured, raped and held captive haunts the fears of officers, parents, and Americans everywhere. The possibility that over the course of years, no one knew that this nightmare existed proves that more needs to be done in the cases of missing girls, and those suspected of negligence. Presumably if further attention was paid to the eerie occurrences at Castros home, in which one neighbor named Israel Lugo heard banging and yelling and plastic bags on the windows in November 2011, maybe the girls would have been rescued sooner.
The assailant Ariel Castro aged 52 years old, was a school bus driver who had two children of his own, a daughter and a son. He had lived at the location 2207 Seymour Avenue, for many years, only three miles away from the kidnappings that took place of Amanda Berry and Michelle Knight. His brothers Pedro and Onil Castro were arrested and released with no charges made against them. It is believed that they had no knowledge of their brothers sadistic secret. Ariel has been charged with four counts of kidnapping and three counts of rape against the three young women.
The conditions in which the women were subjected to included being bound and tied with ropes, and chains in separate confinement, sexual and physical abuse, assault, repeated rape and even forced miscarriages. After nearly a decade of living in hell, these women endured some of the most terrifying experiences one can imagine. Michelle Knight recalls to investigators that she was subjected to starvation and imprisonment in the basement after Ariel learned she was pregnant as well as he would punch her repeatedly in the stomach and starve her until she miscarried, at least five times. It would take a few weeks for the miscarry to occur, and in that time period she was starved, beaten and sexually abused. Amanda Berry was also impregnated and forced to carry and give birth to her child in a inflatable mini-pool in the basement. Michelle Knight was forced to deliver the baby and ensure its survival or else she would be killed. Ariel Castro allowed Amanda to keep the child, over the course of the past 6 years. Her name is Jocelyn and it is also believed Ariel visiting his mother with the child but no further developments have been made regarding those claims.
The young women and child were rescued Monday when a neighbor, Charles Ramsey, turned local hero, heard the cries of the young women and ran over to her to help. He immediately understood her pleas and called 911 prompting police to immediately break down the doors and release the years of suffering for the four females.
Amanda Berry states that she saw the only opportunity in the past ten years to escape, skeptical of Ariel Castro testing her and the other girls she almost did not attempt to break out, but with a large door unlocked and open she could not pass up the opportunity. That is when she ran to the door and began screaming and banging the door. Amanda Berry vanished at age 16 and is now aged 27 years old. Michelle Knight was kidnapped at age 20 and spent a decade held captive now making her 32 years old. Gina DeJesus was only 14 when she was taken by Ariel, and free at age 23. DeJesus and Berry returned home after hospitalization, while Knight held captive for the longest amount of time still remains in good condition in the Hospital for her mental health.
This story is a stark reminder of how important it is to be ever-vigilant - even in your own community. Developments are still being made as well as court proceedings charging Ariel Castro with these heinous crimes. We will have more on this story as it continues to develop.
Video Courtesy of Fox News.