Skip to main content

Michelle Knight tells Dr. Phil, 'I was tied up like a fish'

By Catherine E. Shoichet, CNN
updated 1:10 PM EST, Tue November 5, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Michelle Knight says Ariel Castro thought she was a 13-year-old prostitute
  • Cleveland kidnapping victim says she was tied up like "an ornament on the wall"
  • Knight, Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus were kidnapped and raped by Castro
  • Castro committed suicide in his prison cell in September

(CNN) -- Six months after she was freed from the "house of horrors" where Ariel Castro held her captive for 11 years, Cleveland kidnapping victim Michelle Knight is speaking out.

In an exclusive interview with Dr. Phil McGraw scheduled to air Tuesday and Wednesday, Knight describes a moment when Castro trapped her in a room and tied her up with an orange extension cord.

"I was tied up like a fish," she said, "an ornament on the wall."

An excerpt released by the "Dr. Phil" syndicated talk show Monday shows Knight sitting cross-legged on a couch and drawing a U-shape in the air with one finger as she describes how Castro hung her by her feet, neck and arms.

Knight also says Castro taped her mouth shut with duct tape, according to another excerpt posted on the show's YouTube channel. And she tells McGraw she once picked a lock to try to escape, drawing an ominous warning from Castro: "Now you're gonna be punished."

Knight: I was hung by feet, hands, neck
Michelle Knight 'the unbreakable one'
Michelle Knight speaks out
Dr. Phil on Michelle Knight's survival

Knight, Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus were freed from Castro's Cleveland home in May, drawing national attention to the horrific case.

The dramatic rescue came after neighbors heard Berry's cries and broke down a door.

"It's astounding to me that she had the strength that she did," McGraw told "Anderson Cooper 360." "She says that she was referred to as the unbreakable one. She fought him every step of the way."

McGraw said Knight was chained around the neck and waist with a motorcycle helmet on her head. She was left there for days at a time, Mcgraw said, adding that Knight told him she couldn't lie down because the chain was too short. So she would just lean and wait until she passed out from fatigue.

Knight told McGraw, though, that she didn't always fight back, at least not at first.

She said she was in shock after being taken and all she could do was cry and beg him to let her go back to her son.

He threw money at her.

"He was obsessed with prostitutes and also he thought I was a 13-year-old prostitute," she said in the interview. "When he found out my real age he got mad."

Knight, 32, was 21 years old when she was reported missing in 2002.

In August, Castro was sentenced to life in prison plus 1,000 years after he pleaded guilty to 937 counts, including murder and kidnapping. He committed suicide in his prison cell in September.

Before the women's rescue, Knight's disappearance generated less publicity and attention than the kidnappings of Berry and DeJesus, and a level of mystery still surrounds her case.

But since their rescue, Knight hasn't shied away from speaking out.

"After 11 years, I am finally being heard, and it's liberating," she said in a powerful statement at Castro's sentencing describing the abuse she endured.

"You took 11 years of my life away, and I have got it back. I spent 11 years in hell, and now your hell is just beginning," she told Castro. "I will overcome all this that happened, but you will face hell for eternity."

When crews demolished the 1,400-square-foot house where Castro held them captive, Knight was there, handing out yellow balloons to onlookers.

She said she was at the demolition site in part to remind relatives of abducted children that all is not necessarily lost.

"I want the people out there to know -- including the mothers -- that they can have strength, they can have hope, and their child will come back," she said.

Since their release, accounts have depicted Knight as someone who cared for the other victims during their captivity while also enduring great suffering herself.

A family friend of one of the victims said this year that Castro used Knight as his main "punching bag."

The friend said Castro hit Knight with a variety of objects, including hand weights. She has suffered vision loss, joint and muscle damage, and other problems from her time in captivity.

According to an initial incident report obtained by CNN, Knight said she became pregnant at least five times while in Castro's home.

When that happened, she told investigators, Castro "starved her for at least two weeks, then he repeatedly punched her in the stomach until she miscarried."

Knight said Castro ordered her to deliver Berry's child, according to a police source familiar with the investigation.

"What's most incredible here is that this girl who knows nothing about childbirth was able to deliver a baby that is now a healthy 6-year-old," a police source said.

CNN's Martin Savidge, Pamela Brown and Chelsea J. Carter contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
Ohio women found
updated 7:18 PM EDT, Wed May 14, 2014
Michelle Knight wasn't the only one being held by Ariel Castro. But she knew she was different.
updated 12:05 PM EDT, Tue May 6, 2014
Michelle Knight remembers exactly how Ariel Castro lured her into his home.
updated 7:07 PM EST, Wed November 6, 2013
Michelle Knight squeezes her eyes shut and cries as she listens to the 911 call that led police to rescue her from the house where Ariel Castro held her hostage for more than a decade.
updated 6:36 PM EDT, Wed September 4, 2013
Ariel Castro who was sentenced to life plus 1,000 years for kidnapping, raping and holding captive three women was found hanging in his prison cell.
updated 12:32 PM EDT, Thu August 1, 2013
Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus weren't in the courtroom. But their diaries gave authorities a window into the horror they suffered for a decade.
updated 1:37 PM EDT, Sun August 4, 2013
They were living in hell, and Ariel Castro did all he could to make sure they'd never escape it.
updated 6:38 AM EDT, Mon August 5, 2013
Michelle Knight, one of three women kidnapped by Ariel Castro, returned Friday to the Cleveland house where she was chained up and tormented for 11 years, a neighbor said.
updated 2:22 PM EDT, Thu August 1, 2013
When her chance came, kidnapping victim Michelle Knight lit into Ariel Castro, the man who held her captive and raped her in his Cleveland home for a decade.
updated 9:54 AM EDT, Fri August 2, 2013
The woman's voice wavered, just for a moment.
updated 9:56 AM EDT, Fri August 2, 2013
From the outside, the home at 2207 Seymour Avenue looked like most any other in Cleveland's Westside neighborhood.
updated 10:06 AM EDT, Tue July 9, 2013
For the first time since their rescue, the world is hearing directly from the three women who were held captive in Cleveland for a decade.
updated 3:57 AM EDT, Fri August 2, 2013
For his victims, Thursday was roughly a decade in coming.
updated 8:25 PM EDT, Thu May 9, 2013
In retrospect, there were plenty of signs that something was wrong.
updated 1:10 PM EDT, Thu August 1, 2013
For the first time, take a look inside the Cleveland house where three women were held captive for a decade.
updated 6:55 AM EDT, Mon May 13, 2013
How the macabre enslavement of two girls and a woman began has deeply disturbed a nation, if not the world.
updated 11:37 AM EDT, Sun May 19, 2013
When the police arrived at Castro's house, it was almost peaceful. As if nobody else was there. And then they heard the sound of scurrying feet upstairs.
updated 10:53 AM EDT, Mon May 13, 2013
Ariel Castro's brothers say he's "a monster" who should rot in jail and they "want the world to know" they had no idea their brother was holding women captive.
updated 9:14 PM EDT, Wed May 7, 2014
Two were just teenagers when they were kidnapped, but the three women have finally been found a decade later.
updated 5:33 AM EDT, Wed May 8, 2013
When Amanda Berry screamed for help through a crack in the front door of the house where she was being held, she set in motion an end to roughly a decade of captivity for herself and two other women.
updated 9:19 AM EDT, Fri May 10, 2013
His Cleveland neighbors are trying to come with grips with the two personas -- the first, they thought they knew, the other, the one that authorities describe.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT