Ohio kidnapping case: What we know now

Updated: Another woman believed to be connected to the case remains missing

Published May 7, 2013 9:28PM (EDT)

Updated: 6:02 p.m.

Ashley Summers, who disappeared in 2007, remains missing after the discovery of Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight. But investigators still believe she may be connected to the case, as CNN reports:

Since Ashley Summers disappeared, "there's been no legitimate sightings, no accessing social media, anything," Anderson said.

Former FBI agent Jennifer Eakin said authorities have long believed in a link in the disappearances of Summers and two of the women discovered this week -- Amanda Berry and Georgina "Gina" DeJesus. Eakin is now a case manager at the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, which in 2008 held a comprehensive review of the cases with the FBI and Cleveland police.

"We did in fact believe there was an association between the Berry case and the DeJjesus case as well as the Summers case," Eakin said.

Updated: 5:28 p.m.

Charles Ramsey is being celebrated for his heroism after he helped Amanda Berry escape from Ariel Castro's home on Monday, breaking down the front door of the home where she was being held with two other women.

Ramsey, initially believing that Berry was involved in a domestic violence dispute, helped her flee the house and quickly called 911.

As reward for his role in cracking a decades-old kidnapping case, helping to save three women's lives and giving a frank assessment of the harrowing and bizarre nature of the crime he became witness to, Ramsey was meme'd and auto-tuned into Internet caricature.

As Amy Davidson notes at the New Yorker, those who would cling to Ramsey's mention of salsa and barbecue ribs in his account of the dramatic escape are, ultimately, missing the point: This man, along with Amanda Berry's brave actions, saved lives on Monday:

One phrase in particular, from [Ramsey's] interview, is worth dwelling on: “I figured it was a domestic-violence dispute.” In many times and places, a line like that has been offered as an excuse for walking away, not for helping a woman break down your neighbor’s door. How many women have died as a result? They didn’t yesterday.

And as Miles Klee goes on to remark at BlackBook:

Perhaps it’s time for the world’s meme artists to stop assuming that any black dude getting interviewed on local news about a crime he helped to foil can be reduced to some catch phrase or in-joke. It’s just baffling that we’re trying to find a way to laugh about what is, in itself, a harrowing turn of events. Besides, the hectic first minute of his 911 call is where Ramsey really shines...

Just this once let’s celebrate the man himself — without using .gifs or Photoshop.

Ramsey's 911 call in full:

Updated: 4:53 p.m.

Details of the investigation remain limited while the FBI searches the Seymour Avenue home for clues and investigators delay "deep questioning" of the three young women as they begin the long process of recovery, but unverified reports from law enforcement sources continue to circulate.

Cleveland's WKYC is reporting that "several police sources" have stated that the three women were raped and beaten while in captivity:

The women found safe last night on Seymour Avenue were forced to have sex with their captors, resulting in up to five pregnancies, several police sources tell Channel 3 News. One of those sources tells the Investigator Tom Meyer that the  captors would beat the pregnant girls. Both sources say the babies didn't survive.

The sources say it is unclear what happened following the pregnancies.

And from Ohio's 19 Action News:

Multiple sources confirm two of the women were often held in the basement, and one woman in a room upstairs. Law enforcement sources have told 19 Action News that one of the rooms had chains hanging from the ceiling.

Reporter Ed Gallek also learned that one woman told police she had gotten pregnant more than once, but her captor beat her and she ended up losing the babies.

Action News also reported that one of the women, Gina DeJesus, knew Ariel Castro, the man suspected of kidnapping her:

Family members tell Esparra that Ariel Castro was a relative of DeJesus' best friend, possibly her father.

He's also been to at least two vigils for the missing girls.

Updated: 12:47 p.m.

A timeline of events, beginning in 2003 with Amanda Berry's disappearance:

Updated: 11:59 a.m.

Police had previously investigated the home where the three women were being held captive in 2004, but left after no one came to the door.

As reported by the Daily Mail:

Police knocked on the door of the home where three missing girls were held captive for a decade - but found nothing, it was revealed today.

Officers visited the home on Seymour Avenue in Cleveland, Ohio in 2004 as part of a child services' investigation but left when no one answered.

Police had been alerted to the man living at the home, Ariel Castro, now a suspect in the abduction, after he inadvertently left a boy at a bus depot while working as a school bus driver. No criminal charges were brought and no follow-up inquiries made.

Updated: 11:46 a.m.

Amanda Berry's 911 call:

Updated: 11:30 a.m.

Law enforcement officials said on Tuesday that they were slowly piecing together the events that preceded the dramatic escape of three women held captive in a residential neighborhood in Cleveland for a decade. But pending a full interview with the three victims, Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight, police and investigators don't yet have a full picture.

As reported by the New York Times:

Ms. Berry, who is now 27, was last seen leaving her job at a Cleveland Burger King in April 2003. Almost exactly a year later, Ms. Dejesus, now 23, disappeared as she was walking home from school. The police said on Tuesday that Ms. Knight had not been seen since August 22, 2002, and that a missing persons’ report was made by a family member the next day.

The police said they were executing a search warrant at the house, at 2207 Seymour Ave.

The authorities said they discovered the previous calls to the house after they combed through their databases following the discovery of the women. Martin Flask, the director of public safety in Cleveland, said there was no indication of criminal intent by Mr. Castro in relation to the school bus incident, and as far as the authorities could determine, there was no record any of the neighbors, bystanders or other witnesses or anyone else had ever called about the women in relation to the house where they were eventually found.

The women appeared to be physically unharmed, the authorities said shortly after they were discovered.

Updated: 10:39 a.m.

Interview with Charles Ramsey, the neighbor who called the police after hearing Amanda Berry's call for help:

Posted: 8:25 a.m.

Associated Press
Thomas J. Sheeran and John Coyne

CLEVELAND — 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 the women told a 911 dispatcher the person who had taken her was gone, and she pleaded for police officers to come and get her, saying, "I'm free now."

Cheering crowds gathered Monday night on 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 earlier in the day.

Police didn't 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 6-year-old also was found in the home.

On a recorded 911 call Monday, 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."

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

Police said Knight went missing in 2002 and is 32 now. They didn't provide current ages for the other two women.

Police said one of the brothers, a 52-year-old, 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 late Monday awaiting a warrant to search the building where the women and the child were found.

Loved ones said they hadn't given up hope of seeing the women again. Among them was Kayla Rogers, a childhood friend of DeJesus.

"I've been praying, never forgot about her, ever," 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."

Berry's cousin Tasheena Mitchell told the newspaper she couldn't wait to have Berry 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.

Berry's mother, Louwana Miller, who had been hospitalized 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 in a statement.

At Metro Health Medical Center, 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 area residents.

In January, 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.

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.

By Associated Press

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By Katie McDonough

Katie McDonough is Salon's politics writer, focusing on gender, sexuality and reproductive justice. Follow her on Twitter @kmcdonovgh or email her at kmcdonough@salon.com.

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Amanda Berry Associated Press Gina Dejesus Kidnapping Michelle Knight Ohio Video