As Ohio women remained in captivity, alleged abductor’s life crumbled

Updated 6:55 AM EDT, Mon May 13, 2013

Story highlights

Three women -- 21, 16, 14 at the time -- were abducted on Cleveland's west side

One captive woman's mother dies without ever knowing daughter gave birth to a girl

Another captive is the best friend of alleged abductor's daughter

Alleged abductor loses job, faces domestic violence complaint, yet writes: 'God is good'

Watch CNN’s exclusive interview with Ariel Castro’s brothers starting Monday at 5 a.m. ET on “Early Start.”

(CNN) —  

It was a breezy summer day in Cleveland about a decade ago when Michelle “Shorty” Knight put on eyeglasses, blue shorts and a white T-shirt and went to see her cousin.

Though she was 21, Knight became easily confused by her surroundings. Still, no one thought twice about her visiting family on that day in August 2002.

Her mother believed that she suffered a mental disability. Even knowing that, what could go wrong? After all, the cousin lived near Lorain Avenue. But that day would be the last time the mother ever saw Knight.

Her grandmother believed Knight just walked out of their lives, she told the Cleveland Plain Dealer newspaper. But not her mother. She knew her daughter was troubled by the loss of custody of her son – but to never call home again, even to check in?

Society forgot about Michelle Knight, but her mother didn’t: Barbara Knight papered Cleveland’s west side with posters about her missing daughter.

It would take two years and the additional disappearance of two girls before anyone realized something sinister was unfolding on Lorain Avenue, a bustling street in this Ohio neighborhood.

Her abduction marked the opening chapter into a tale of captivity of three young women that seems so sadistic that the world is now wondering how it went unnoticed for 10 years.

Knight and two teenage girls were prisoners in an urban dungeon, hidden in plain sight just three miles from their abductions.

They were held captive in a two-story house on Seymour Avenue, whose basement foundation was laid in 1890. In 10 years, the women went outdoors briefly only twice.

The four-bedroom, 1,435-square-foot house belongs to Ariel Castro, 52, a longtime school bus driver for Cleveland’s public schools. He’s now charged with the kidnappings and rapes of Knight and two other women. Castro is also accused of being the father of a 6-year-old girl borne by one of the young captives.

How the macabre enslavement of two girls and a woman began has deeply disturbed the nation.

Timeline: From missing to liberated

The second abduction

Knight was talked into her abductor’s vehicle when he offered her a ride home. He took her to his house instead, according to a police report.

Just eight months after Knight’s abduction, the kidnapper apparently decided he wanted another captive in his home.

That’s when 16-year-old Amanda Berry disappeared on Lorain Avenue, just four blocks from where Knight was taken.

On the damp evening of April 21, 2003, Berry was every bit a teenager: she had pierced ears and a pierced left eyebrow – vogue for her age – and was finishing her shift at the neighborhood Burger King. Everything seemed safe: it was a school night, a Monday, and she worked just a few blocks from her house.

When she didn’t return home, her mother found the absence especially alarming: the following day was Amanda’s 17th birthday.

The mother, Louwana Miller, called police, who opened the case as a missing juvenile.

Her abductor offered her a ride home, saying his son also worked at Burger King, according to the police report.