Three women who have been missing for years were found alive early this week in Cleveland, Ohio. The women – Amanda Berry, Georgina “Gina” DeJesus and Michelle Knight – were rescued from a home in Cleveland where they have been held captive since they disappeared in 2003, 2004, and 2002, respectively. Also held captive was the young daughter of Amanda Berry, who was conceived and born during Berry’s imprisonment.
The women’s rescue came when Berry, 27, busted through the lower half of an exterior screen door on the home and called for help. Neighbor Charles Ramsey came to her rescue. After Ramsey helped Berry break out of the home, she called 911 and identified herself to the dispatcher. “I’ve been kidnapped, and I’ve been missing for 10 years,” she said. “And I’m here. I’m free now.”
Berry, along with her six-year-old daughter, has returned to her sister’s home in a neighborhood about six miles away from the one where she has been held captive since 2004. 23-year-old Gina DeJesus, who has been missing since the age of 14, has also returned to her family, who say she is in “good spirits.” CNN reports that many relatives of Michelle Knight, 32, were not even aware of her disappearance several years ago. Knight’s mother, who lives in Naples, Florida, has been contacted by police.
Police have arrested three brothers – Onil Castro, 50; Ariel Castro, 52; and Pedro Castro, 54 – in conjunction with the kidnappings, which all occurred on Lorain Avenue in Cleveland. Ariel Castro, a former school bus driver, is the only one of the men who lived in the home. He was fired from his post in November after multiple infractions, including leaving a child on the school bus and using the school bus to do his grocery shopping. Neighbors report having called the police to report suspicious activity at Ariel Castro’s home, although police have no records of any of these calls and say that they had no evidence of suspicious activity at the residence. Police have visited the home of Ariel Castro twice before – once when he called to report a street fight, and once regarding the incident of the child left on the school bus.
A police search of Castro’s home revealed chains, ropes and evidence that the women were restrained at least some of the time. No human remains were discovered. A medical evaluation of the women and child found them all in good health.
The rescue of a safe, sound Amanda Berry stands in stark contrast to the statements of Sylvia Browne, a psychic who, in 2004, told Amanda Berry’s mother, Louwana Miller, in 2004 that the girl was definitely dead. Miller died still believing that her daughter would never be found alive.
This was not the first time that Sylvia Browne wrongly announced the death of a missing person. She made the same mistake in 2002, when she told the parents of Shawn Hornbeck that their son was abducted by a “tall, ‘dark-skinned man’ with dreadlocks” and was now dead. Six years later, the boy was found alive in the home of his white, dreadlock-less kidnapper. Psychics in general are notorious for failing to find missing persons or to successfully solve crimes. Police don’t use psychics to help them solve crimes, but they are obliged to investigate every tip they receive, even those from questionable sources. People with insider knowledge of a particular crime may play the psychic card in an attempt to deflect suspicion. Career psychics often claim that they’ve worked with police to solve crimes, even though they haven’t.