Arlene Castro said she was with Gina DeJesus just before she went missing in 2004
"America's Most Wanted" featured Arlene Castro in 2005 story on DeJesus
Authorities say DeJesus was held captive for years by Arlene's father, Ariel
"I'm ... embarrassed, mainly devastated," Arlene Castro says now
In the spring of 2005, Arlene Castro appeared on an “America’s Most Wanted” segment pleading for help in finding her best friend, Georgina “Gina” DeJesus, who’d mysteriously gone missing along a busy Cleveland avenue one year earlier.
Little did she know.
At that time, DeJesus was alive but captive in an older man’s house about three miles away, authorities said. There, she was chained, threatened and sexually assaulted repeatedly.
The man who police say was responsible for the girl’s hell? Arlene Castro’s own father, Ariel.
Speaking Thursday on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” Arlene Castro said she had “no idea” her father allegedly was holding DeJesus and two other young women, Michelle Knight and Amanda Berry, as well as Berry’s 6-year-old daughter, who was born in captivity.
Arlene and her father – with whom she was not living when her friend went missing, instead being with her mother – “were never really that close,” she said. The last time the father and daughter talked was late last month, and their conversations were typically short and confined to niceties.
“‘Let me know if you need anything,’ and that was it, every time,” Arlene Castro recalled.
Now, she would like to talk with her longtime friend, DeJesus, to introduce her to her kids and tell her much, much more.
“I would like to say that I’m absolutely so, so sorry,” a tearful Arlene Castro told ABC. “… I’m so sorry for everything.”
According to the FBI, the then 14-year-old DeJesus disappeared on April 2, 2004, as she was walking home from middle school. She was last seen at a pay telephone booth between 2:45 p.m. and 3 p.m. along Cleveland’s Lorain Avenue.
And with her at that telephone booth was Arlene Castro.
Castro told “America’s Most Wanted” – as seen in archived video posted online, including on Slate’s website – that her friend loaned her 50 cents, so she could use the phone and ask her mother if the two could spend the afternoon together at DeJesus’ house.
“I told her I couldn’t and she said, ‘Well OK, I’ll talk to you later.’ And she walked,” the then-teenage Castro said, with the “America’s Most Wanted” reporter explaining that DeJesus would have taken the bus but had loaned out the change she’d normally use for bus fare.
Authorities have begun spelling out what they say happened to DeJesus next. Ariel Castro, Arlene’s father, lured the girl into a vehicle, then took her to his home and forced her to stay, according to charging documents.
She was not alone. Two other captive women were already inside the 1,400-square foot house – Amanda Berry, who “America’s Most Wanted” mentioned in its report had gone missing one year earlier, and Michelle Knight, who had last been seen in August 2002.
Today, all three women are free, including DeJesus who is now 23-years-old. Ariel Castro, meanwhile, is being held on $8 million bond after being charged with kidnapping and rape.
As for his daughter Arlene, she’s crushed.
“I’m really disappointed, embarrassed, mainly devastated,” she said.