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Kidnapped Ohio Women Return Home To Families

May 8, 2013
Originally published on May 8, 2013 3:55 pm
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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And I'm Audie Cornish.

We begin this hour in Cleveland, where charges have been announced in the case of the three women who were apparently held in captivity for about a decade. The women were freed earlier this week from the home of Ariel Castro. He now faces several counts of kidnapping and rape. No charges were announced today for two of Castro's brothers who have also been arrested.

Meanwhile, two of the three women who had been missing returned to their families. And NPR's Cheryl Corley has more on the day's events in Cleveland.

CHERYL CORLEY, BYLINE: Cleveland officials said it was only 52-year-old Ariel Castro and not his two brothers who kidnapped and raped three women he allegedly held captive in his home. Cleveland Deputy Police Chief Ed Tomba said Castro gave a detailed statement to the police, and there is no evidence to show that his brothers, 54-year-old Pedro and 50-year-old Onil, knew what was happening in their brother's home.

ED TOMBA: There is nothing that leads us to believe that they were involved or they had any knowledge of this, and that comes from statements of our victims.

CORLEY: One of those victims, 27-year-old Amanda Berry, returned home today. The roar of police motorcycle signaled her homecoming. Her sister's house was adorned with balloons, teddy bears and a giant welcome home sign. The celebration coexisted with reminders of the grim years that Berry endured. A missing poster of her and Gina DeJesus, one of the other captives, remain taped to a tree with a yellow ribbon. Cleveland Police Commander Thomas McCartney called the escape of all three of the women a huge relief.

THOMAS MCCARTNEY: And there were moments that I questioned whether or not they were still with us. But hope is alive today, and our dreams have been answered.

CORLEY: Twenty-seven-year-old Berry had been expected to come out to make a statement. But as the crowd swelled, it was her sister, Beth Berry Serrano, who, fighting back tears, came out instead.

BETH BERRY SERRANO: We appreciate all you have done for us throughout the past 10 years. Please respect our privacy until we are ready to make our statements. And thank you.

CORLEY: Twenty-three-year-old Gina DeJesus also returned home today. She gave a thumbs-up as she was quickly escorted into her house. It was her aunt, Sandra Ruiz, who thanked supporters.

SANDRA RUIZ: The last thing the family and the, you know, is asking is that we as a community do not go retaliate against the family or the suspects of this crime.

CORLEY: Some of his neighbors called Ariel Castro a regular guy who played bass guitar in salsa bands, while others said they hardly knew the house was occupied. Police confirmed today that during the search of the Castro home, they found chains and ropes and that the women were bound.

Elise Cintron(ph), who lives just a few doors away from the Castro house, says officers may have been able to find the women earlier. Cintron says last year, her young granddaughter said she saw a woman in the backyard of Castro's home.

ELISE CINTRON: Naked, crawling back there, no clothes. She had nothing on. And the following day, she told me about it. I told him to stay away from there.

CORLEY: Cintron says when she told police later, there was no follow-through. This morning, the mayor's office disputed reports that they missed signs. They said an internal review of police communications records found the officers went to the house twice on unrelated calls. And Police Commander McCartney said he was confident about the department's approach and how the city's detective unit handles missing persons reports.

MCCARTNEY: The tactics we used, I do not question. The investigation, I will not question. Certainly, there's always could have, would have, should have. Anybody who's human would have that.

CORLEY: Despite questions about police diligence, the rescue of the women has given hope to the relatives of others who are missing, including the mother of a 14-year-old girl who says she's waiting for her miracle. Her daughter, Ashley Summers, disappeared near the house where the women were found. Cheryl Corley, NPR News, Cleveland. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.