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3 women missing found alive in Cleveland

Cleveland, May 7, 2013

Three Ohio women believed abducted separately about a decade ago were found alive on Monday at a Cleveland house near where they were last seen, and three brothers were arrested as suspects in their disappearances, police said.

Police said they were alerted to the whereabouts of the women by a frantic emergency call from Amanda Berry, who was freed from the house by a neighbor who said he heard screaming and came to her assistance.

"Help me! I'm Amanda Berry... I've been kidnapped and I've been missing for 10 years and I'm here. I'm free now," Berry, 26, is heard frantically telling a 911 operator in a recording of the call released by police and posted on the website of the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

During the call, she gave the name of her alleged abductor, said he was "out of the house" and urged police to come quickly. She indicated that she knew her disappearance had been widely reported in the media.

The neighbour, Charles Ramsey, said in an interview broadcast by CNN that when he arrived, Berry appeared desperate to get through the door, which did not open properly.

"I see this girl going nuts trying to get outside," he said, adding that he was astonished when she identified herself.

"Then I realised I'm calling 911 for Amanda Berry. I thought that girl was dead," he said. He said Berry had emerged from the house "with a little girl."

The two women found with Berry were identified by authorities as Gina DeJesus, 23, who vanished in 2004 at age 14, and Michelle Knight, who was reported to have been 20 when she disappeared more than a decade ago.

All three women were taken to a local hospital, MetroHealth Medical Center, where Dr Gerald Maloney told a news conference they were all "safe" and "appear to be in fair condition."

"This isn't the ending we usually have to these stories, so we're very happy. We're very happy for them," Maloney said.

He declined to comment on unconfirmed media reports that two children were found with the three women at the house.

The suspects, ages 50, 52 and 54, were arrested based on information given to investigators by the three women after their rescue, according to Deputy Cleveland Police Chief Ed Tomba, who said the women had probably been held in that house since they vanished.

One of the men was identified earlier as Ariel Castro, 52, a bus driver for Cleveland public schools.

CROWDS CHEER

Crowds on the street where the women were found cheered as police cars drove into the cordoned-off area around the house.

Berry was last seen leaving her job at a fast-food restaurant to go home on the day before her 17th birthday.

City Councilwoman Dona Brady, a friend of the family, told Reuters that Berry's grief-stricken mother had died at age 47, essentially from a broken heart.

A cousin of DeJesus, Sheila Figaro, told CNN that the girl's mother, Nancy, "never gave up faith knowing that her daughter would one day be found. What a phenomenal Mother's Day gift she gets this Mother's Day."

The suspects' uncle, Caesar Castro, who owns a grocery store on the same street, said Ariel Castro owned the house where the women were found. He added that members of his family and the family of DeJesus "grew up together."

"Everyone is shocked," said the elder Castro. He said he had known Ariel Castro to be "a good guy" and a musician who played the bass.

Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson said, "I am thankful that Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight have been found alive."

"We have many unanswered questions regarding this case, and the investigation will be ongoing," he added. - Reuters




Tags: Cleveland | US | missing | Ohio |

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