The woman’s voice was frantic and breathless, and she was choking back tears. “Help me. I’m Amanda Berry,” she told a 911 dispatcher. “I’ve been kidnapped and I’ve been missing for 10 years and I’m, I’m here, I’m free now.”
Those words led police to a house near downtown Cleveland where Berry and two other women who vanished about a decade ago were found Monday, exhilarating law enforcement authorities, family members and friends who had longed to see them again.
Police Chief Michael McGrath said Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight were apparently held captive in the house since they were in their teens or early 20s.
Authorities later arrested three brothers, ages 50 to 54. One of them, former school bus driver Ariel Castro, owned the home, situated in a neighborhood dotted with boarded-up older homes. No immediate charges were brought against them.
A 6-year-old girl also was found in the home, and Deputy Police Chief Ed Tomba said Tuesday that the child is believed to be Berry’s daughter. He declined to say who the father was or where the child was born.
Authorities would not whether the women were restrained inside the house or if any of them had been sexually assaulted. Police said they were trying to be delicate in their questioning of the women, given the trauma they endured.
Investigators also said they had no records of any tips or calls about criminal activity at the house in the years after the victims vanished. They said they had no records of code violations or fire department calls either.
The women appeared to be in good health and were taken to a hospital to be evaluated and reunited with relatives. A photo released by Berry’s family showed her smiling with an arm around her sister. All three were released from Metro Health Medical Center on Tuesday morning. Police said they were taken to an undisclosed location in the suburbs.