The three women—Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michele Knight—were found alive Monday in a residential area just south of downtown. Three men, all brothers, were arrested in connection with their abductions.
According to police, the women all appeared to be in good health and had been taken to hospital to be reunited with relatives and to be evaluated. Berry also had a 6-year-old daughter.
Details of how the three men, ages 50, 52, and 54, were able to keep the young women hidden for all these years have not yet emerged. One of the men lived in the house. After Ramsey helped her escape, Berry called 911, identified herself and said she had been missing for 10 years.
As he animatedly described the sequence of events leading to her rescue, Ramsey told the local televsion station, “I knew someting was wrong when a little pretty white girl ran into a black man’s arms. Something is wrong here.”
Ramsey, who lives near the house where the women were found, said he first heard a woman shouting.
“[I] heard screaming. I’m eating my McDonald’s, I come outside, I see this girl going nuts trying to get out of her house. So I go on the porch and she says: ‘Help me get out, I’ve been here a long time’.”
“So I figured it was a domestic violence dispute,” Ramsey said, recounting how he kicked the door of the house to free her.
“And she comes out with a little girl and she says: ‘Call 911, my name is Amanda Berry,’” Ramsey said.
“When she told me it didn’t register. Until I got to call 911. I thought: ‘I’m calling 911 for Amanda Berry? I thought this girl was dead.’ And then she gets on the phone and she says: ‘Yes, this is me.’”
Ramsey said police arrived and entered the property. ”That girl Amanda told the police: ‘I ain’t just the only one. There’s some more girls up in that house,’” Ramsey said.
“So they go up there 30 or 40 deep, and when they came out it was just astonishing,” he said.
Ramsey said he had lived in the neighborhood for a year and saw the man who lived in the house where the women were found “every day.”
One of the brothers who was arrested is a 52-year-old Cleveland City Schools bus driver.
Berry first disappeared at age 16 on April 21, 2003, after she called to tell her sister she was getting a ride home from her job at Burger King. DeJesus went missing at age 14 on her way home from school about a year later. The girls were found just a few miles from where they had gone missing. Police said Knight was 20 when she went missing around 2000.
Kayla Rogers, a childhood friend of DeJesus, said she never gave up hope.
“I’ve been praying, never forgot about her, ever,” Rogers told The Cleveland Plain Dealer. “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 Plain Dealer 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, died in March 2006 after a bout with pancreatitis and other ailments. After spending three futile years looking for her daughter, family members said her health steadily deteriorated.