Freed Cleveland woman's grandmother sees 'thank you' video for first time

Story highlights

  • "That is so special," Fern Gentry said after seeing the YouTube video
  • The video shows the "resilience and character" of the three women
  • They were abducted between 2002 and 2004 in Cleveland, authorities say
  • The suspect, Ariel Castro, 52, is being held in lieu of $8 million bail
Fern Gentry couldn't help but smile. On the computer screen her granddaughter thanked the public for the support she and two other women have received ever since they walked out of the house in Cleveland where, authorities say, they had been held captive and abused for around a decade.
"That is so special," Gentry said.
Her granddaughter, Amanda Berry, along with Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight released a YouTube video Tuesday, offering their thanks to all those who have helped them since they were freed in May. Prosecutors say the three women were kidnapped in Cleveland between 2002 and 2004 by Ariel Castro, who is accused of beating, raping and starving the women.
They were held until Berry shouted for help when Castro was out of the house.
CNN showed the YouTube video to Gentry, who lives in Tennessee.
"I want to thank everyone who has helped me and my family through this entire ordeal. Everyone who has been there to support us has been a blessing," Berry said in the video. "I'm getting stronger each day," she continued.
"I'm just so proud," Gentry said. "I know Amanda's right -- you gotta be strong." Gentry's phone had been ringing all day with friends calling to ask if she'd seen the video, and commenting on how great Berry looked. Gentry had a chance to reconnect with her granddaughter recently in Tennessee. The family went for a picnic lunch.
"She is so special. She's a strong girl," Gentry said.
Michelle Knight was 21 when she disappeared. Her story generated far less publicity and attention than those of Berry and DeJesus. Knight's name was removed from an FBI database of missing people in November 2003, but police checked on her case as recently as November 2012.
In the video, wearing purple glasses and reading from a prepared statement, Knight thanked everyone for their "love, support, and donations."
"I want everyone to know I'm doing just fine," Knight said "I may have been to hell and back, but I am strong enough to walk through hell with a smile on my face and with my head held high and my feet firmly on the ground."
DeJesus added a 'big thank you' to everyone who had supported the women.
Chris Kelly, an attorney with the Courage Fund, was impressed with the video. "To have the courage to go on and put out a video really tells you something about their resilience and character," he said.
The women said they were trying to come up with a way to say thank you to the public for their support, and they decided on the video, according to Kelly.
The Courage Fund, which was established to help the three women, has raised more than $1 million.
"For 10 years they had nothing. Maybe now they can make a life," Gentry said, contemplating the trio's future. "I hope and pray they will be OK for the rest of their lives."
Last week a judge ruled that Ariel Castro is competent to stand trial. Castro, 52, is being held in jail in lieu of $8 million bail on 329 counts, including one count of aggravated murder for allegedly causing the unlawful termination of a pregnancy.
Castro is able to watch television, so he possibly could have seen a broadcast of the YouTube video of the three women.