The City of Cleveland Department of Public Safety held a press conference this morning, updating the community on the status of the Amanda Berry, Georgina DeJesus and Michelle Knight kidnapping investigations. Yesterday, May 6, 2013, at just before 6pm, Cleveland Police radio received a call that our community had waited over a decade to receive, the call that Amanda Berry was alive, and amazingly Georgina DeJesus and Michelle Knight were with her. Amanda Berry had bravely sought to escape her captor’s home and was assisted by a neighbor in breaking through the bottom of the front door to the home. She escaped along with her young daughter.
Martin Flask, Director of Public Safety reported that Cleveland Police Officers arrived on scene in just under two minutes after being dispatched, and shortly thereafter confirmed that they had located Amanda. Just moments later, police located Georgina and Michelle.
In his remarks, Chief McGrath rejoiced in reporting that finding these women truly gives police officers a boost. This is a moment that many officers and agents have waited many years for. Chief McGrath stated that the Cleveland Division of Police, along with our law enforcement partners, remained committed to these cases over the years. He chronicled the investigations by noting the many leads that had been followed resulting in suspects being ruled out, evidence examined and yards excavated.
Three men are currently under arrest in regards to this investigation. The men, who are brothers, are Ariel Castro, Pedro Castro and Onil Castro. These individuals are currently being held in the City of Cleveland Central Prision Unit awaiting charges.
During the press conference, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Cleveland Office, Steven Anthony, remarked, “Prayers have finally been answered, the nightmare is finally over”. He further stated that the families of these ladies never gave up and neither did law enforcement. Deputy Chief Edward Tomba commanded the attention of those in the room when he stated “The real hero here is Amanda. Without her lead, we would not be here.”
The next steps will include sorting through ten years of logistical information, interviews being conducted and evidence examined. The Federal Bureau of Investigation remains in partnership with the Cleveland Division of Police and has provided the assistance of the Evidence Response Team which will examine all evidence at the crime scene.
While the community rejoices in knowing that these missing women are now safe and reunited with their families, it is important to recognize the extremely difficult and painful journey they will face on the road to recovery. As we offer our thoughts and prayers to these women, we must also respect their right to privacy and their right to heal in their own time. While many questions remain, the most important thing is the mental and physical well being of these brave women. Please join us in wishing them well on their road to healing.