US police to question brothers over 10-yr abductions
Police plan to question three brothers on Wednesday over the disappearance of three young women who were found alive in a quiet home in the US state of Ohio after around a decade of captivity.
Neighbors have expressed shock that the young women -- long feared dead -- could have been held for so many years in an unassuming home belonging to a man who never raised any suspicions in the working class neighborhood.
Three brothers have been arrested in Cleveland after one of the captives managed to alert a neighbor, who broke down the door to free her and the six-year-old daughter she apparently bore as a prisoner.
Police responding to a desperate 911 emergency call found two more women in the modest detached home with American and Puerto Rican flags on the porch. The three women had gone missing in separate incidents around 10 years ago.
Police, reporters and local residents have descended on Seymour Avenue, where officers sealed off the property with barriers and crime scene tape.
The women -- Amanda Berry, 27, Gina DeJesus, 23, and Michelle Knight, 32 -- were freed on Monday night and examined at a local hospital before being released to their families, who staged joyous homecoming parties.
Cleveland police spokeswoman Jennifer Ciaccia told CNN that officers plan to interview the suspects on Wednesday and that they should be brought before a judge to face charges later in the day.
"This is just the tip of the iceberg. This investigation will take a very long time," she said, refusing to comment on reports that the women had been chained up in the house, beaten and had lost multiple pregnancies.
Berry's grandmother Fern Gentry spoke to the once-missing teen by phone from Tennessee in a call broadcast by a local ABC News affiliate.
"I'm glad to have you back," Gentry said.
"I'm glad to be back," Berry said, in the first publicly released recording of her voice since the panicked 911 call after her escape.
"I thought you were gone," the grandmother said.
"Nope, I'm here."
Police confirmed that Berry has a six-year-old daughter, Jocelyn, apparently born while she was in captivity. A picture was released showing Berry smiling with her sister and daughter at the hospital.
"She looks great -- happy, healthy and ate a popsicle last night," Cleveland Police Deputy Chief Ed Tomba said about the little girl.
"Seeing her mother made her smile," he said, according to ABC News.
The three Ohio women were abducted separately in 2002, 2003 and 2004 but were found together in the home of 52-year-old Ariel Castro, who has been detained along with his brothers, Pedro, 54, and Onil, 50.
Police mug shots show thick-set men with gray beards.
"The nightmare is over," FBI special agent Steve Anthony told reporters.
"These three young ladies have provided us with the ultimate definition of survival and perseverance. The healing can now begin."
Cleveland Director of Public Safety Martin Flask said police had not been alerted to anything untoward happening at the house on Seymour Avenue.
"Obviously, there was a long period of time where nobody saw them. So we have to wait until we interview them and hopefully they are going to tell us exactly what went on in there," Tomba said.
"They were the only ones there along with the suspects," he said, adding that the women seemed to be in fairly good health.
The nightmare ended when Berry -- kidnapped just before her 17th birthday -- reached through a crack in the front door and called for help.
"I heard screaming... and I see this girl going nuts trying to get outside of the house," neighbor Charles Ramsey told a local ABC news affiliate. "I go on the porch, and she said, 'Help me get out. I've been here a long time'."
Ramsey said he could not pull the door open, so he kicked out a lower section and she crawled through carrying a little girl.
Berry went to a neighboring home and called police, begging them to come quickly -- "before he gets back" -- according to the recording of her 911 call.
Berry was last seen on April 21, 2003, when she left work at a fast food restaurant just a few blocks from her home.
DeJesus was 14 when she vanished while walking home from school on April 2, 2004. Knight, who was 20 at the time of her disappearance, was last seen at a cousin's house on August 23, 2002, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
Residents told AFP they were shocked, and had no idea that a neighbor who would sometimes share food grilled in his yard could have had such a grim secret locked away.
"I've passed by a lot of times," said Rachel Williamson, a 30-year-old mother of three. "It's sad to know they were in there all the time."