Women were aware of each other while held captive
Amid cheers, Amanda Berry and Georgina DeJesus go home
Michelle Knight remains hospitalized in Cleveland
All three were allegedly held captive until Monday inside a Cleveland home
Amanda Berry’s father, overjoyed that his daughter was freed after years in captivity, had a simple message.
“Keep hope. Keep hope,” Johnny Berry told Knoxville, Tennessee, CNN affiliate WATE. “Don’t give up until you know, because I never gave up, because I know the kid’s heart.”
When Amanda Berry screamed for help Monday evening through a crack in the front door of the Cleveland house where she was being held, she set in motion an end to roughly a decade of captivity for herself and two other women, Georgina “Gina” DeJesus and Michelle Knight. Berry’s 6-year-old daughter also was freed.
Knight remained in the hospital in good condition Wednesday.
The three women “relied on each other for survival,” a law enforcement source with firsthand knowledge of the investigation told CNN. They interacted during their captivity, though they were typically kept in separate rooms, according to the source.
While Berry made a break, the two other women chose not to. They had “succumbed” to “their reality,” the source said, describing them as brainwashed and fearful.
Timeline: From missing to liberated
Here’s more information about Berry, DeJesus and Knight and their disappearances:
Age: 16 when she was reported missing; now, 27.
Missing since: April 21, 2003
Last seen: walking home from a job at Burger King a few blocks from her home about 7:40 p.m., according to the FBI. It was the eve of her 17th birthday.
Clues: She called her sister to tell her she was getting a ride home, CNN affiliate WJW reported.
Appearance: The FBI missing person poster described her as 5 feet, 1 inch to 5 feet, 3 inches tall and weighing 105 pounds.
Law enforcement action: The FBI had 10 postings on its website about her disappearance and offered a reward of up to $25,000 for information about her whereabouts.
Her child: Authorities said they could not talk about the 6-year-old girl because of the investigation. A search warrant was executed on the suspect to obtain DNA, officials said Wednesday.
Family reaction: Berry went home Wednesday morning. Well-wishers from the neighborhood cheered as a gray van carrying mother and child pulled up. The porch was decorated with balloons and stuffed animals and draped with a red banner that read, “Welcome home Amanda.”
“We are so happy to have Amanda and her daughter home,” her sister, Beth Serrano, told reporters. “I want to thank the public and media for their support and courage over the years.”
Amanda Berry declined to speak publicly Wednesday.
“She is a true hero. She was the one who started this,” said Deputy Police Chief Ed Tomba. “Something must have clicked and she saw an opportunity and she took the opportunity.”
Georgina ‘Gina’ DeJesus
Age: 14 when she was reported missing; now, 23.
Missing since: April 2, 2004
Last seen: at a pay phone around 3 p.m. as she was walking home from school. The girl and a friend had called the friend’s mother seeking permission for a sleepover at DeJesus’ house, but the answer was no.
Appearance: The FBI missing person poster described her as 5 feet, 1 inch to 5 feet, 3 inches tall and weighing 135 pounds.
Law enforcement action: The FBI, which mentions her in eight documents on its website, was offering an unspecified reward for information leading to her recovery.
Family reaction: DeJesus arrived at a family home Wednesday afternoon. A large crowd greeted her arrival with cheers.
Her father, Felix DeJesus, said he never doubted his daughter was alive. “I knew she needed me and I never gave up, I never gave up searching for her.”
Sandra Ruiz said her niece is “ecstatic” to be back with her family. When she arrived Wednesday afternoon at a family home, “she was happy, she looked at the house and she wanted a tour.”
“What more can she say – her face, her expression, her smile, (her) hugging says it all,” Ruiz said.
Wednesday evening, Pastor Angel Arroyo told CNN’s Piers Morgan: “The family is totally overwhelmed, and grateful and happy.”
Age: 21 when she was reported missing; now 32, according to the Cleveland Police Department.
Missing since: August 22, 2002, said Martin Flask, director of public safety for the police; a missing person report was filed the next day.
Clues: Knight’s grandmother, Deborah Knight, told The Plain Dealer on Monday that the family had concluded that Michelle had left of her own accord because she was angry she had lost custody of her son. That conclusion was supported by police and social workers, she told the newspaper.
But the missing woman’s mother, Barbara Knight, told the newspaper that her daughter would never have broken all contact voluntarily.
Law enforcement action: The FBI website makes no mention of her.
Family reaction: News of her discovery came as a shock to brother Freddie Knight, who didn’t know she was missing until he saw the story on TV. He said the family thought Knight might be with the brother of a brother-in-law, but had no phone number to contact him.
“I was freaking happy as hell, because I didn’t know my sister was kidnapped,” he said.
Barbara Knight told NBC on Wednesday she had not yet spoken to her daughter.
“She’s probably angry at the world because she thought she would never be found, but thank God that somebody did,” she told NBC.
She was asked what she would say to Michelle if and when she got to see her. “I love you and I missed you all this time,” Barbara Knight said.