LATEST: Three long-missing women freed in Cleveland
(CNN) — Three long-missing women — Amanda Berry, 27; Georgina “Gina” DeJesus, 23; and Michelle Knight, 32 — and a 6-year-old daughter apparently born to Berry in captivity were found alive Monday in Cleveland, police said. The women are believed to have been abducted years ago — in 2002, 2003 and 2004 — and held captive at a man’s home, according to police.
Three suspects, all brothers, including the home’s main resident, Ariel Castro, 52, were arrested. On Wednesday, a prosecutor said that Castro is being charged with four counts of kidnapping and three counts of rape. His brothers are not being charged in the case.
Here are recent developments:
— The three women hadn’t left Ariel Castro’s property and had only gone outside “on two separate occasions … briefly” in the years in which they were held captive, said Martin Flask, Cleveland’s public safety director.
— A paternity test will be conducted to determine whether Ariel Castro is the biological father of the 6-year-old daughter of Amanda Berry who was freed Monday, said Cleveland’s deputy police chief Ed Tomba. The girl was born while her mother was held captive.
— The freed women are “safe and healthy,” Victor Perez, chief assistant prosecutor for the city of Cleveland, said late Wednesday afternoon.
— Authorities are discussing who might receive a reward for information that led to the three long-missing women, according to Tomba. He singled out Charles Ramsey, Castro’s neighbor who helped free Amanda Berry and later called police. “Mr. Ramsey deserves something,” said Tomba. “He is the true key to the case.”
— All three Castro brothers were together when they were arrested, at which time authorities felt “we had enough probable cause to bring them into custody,” said Tomba. But over the course of the investigation, officials “found no facts to link” Onil and Pedro Castro to the kidnapping case.
— Onil and Pedro Castro are set to appear Thursday morning in Cleveland Municipal Court related to outstanding warrants out on both men for misdemeanor cases, said Perez. Tomba said that the judge will then determine whether the two men get credit for time served and are released.
— Ariel Castro has been talking with investigators since his arrest, said Tomba. “We don’t see or anticipate any other victims of his,” the deputy police chief added.
— Ariel Castro will be arraigned Thursday morning on the seven charges — each of them first-degree felonies — in Cleveland Municipal Court, then his case will be transferred to a Cuyahoga County court. The prosecutor’s office for that county will handle the case, with a grand jury deciding on an indictment that could include additional counts, according to Perez.
— By 5 p.m. Wednesday, law enforcement authorities had “completed their search” of Ariel Castro’s home, said Flask. More than 200 items were taken from the house, which Tomba said “was in quite a bit of disarray” when officers entered.
— New information “provided us enough probable cause to seek another search warrant” for a second Seymour Avenue home — two doors down from Ariel Castro’s house — that authorities searched Wednesday, said Tomba. He did not specify what information led authorities to search the boarded-up house.
— The investigation thus far hasn’t led to any new information on Ashley Summers, who was 14 when she went missing in 2007, said Tomba. He said “her disappearance was part of the questioning” of the three Castro brothers who were initially arrested.
Previously reported developments:
— The three women and the child were rescued Monday after, according to a neighbor, screaming was heard coming from the home.
— Neighbors Charles Ramsey and Angel Cordero say they responded to the screaming by helping to kick in the door to help her escape.
— Ramsey and Berry called 911, authorities said. “Help me, I am Amanda Berry,” she begged the operator. “I’ve been kidnapped, and I’ve been missing for 10 years. And I’m here, I’m free now.”
— In addition to Berry, police found DeJesus and Knight at the home; all three said they were held captive there, according to authorities.
— Police later arrested Ariel Castro, who’s identified as a former school bus driver, and his two brothers. Police believe Ariel Castro was the only one of the brothers who lived at the home, Tomba told reporters late Monday.
— Ariel Castro faces charges on four counts of kidnapping and three counts of rape, Victor Perez, chief assistant prosecutor for the city of Cleveland, said late Wednesday afternoon. He will be arraigned Thursday morning, according to the prosecutor.
— Knight, of Cleveland, had been last seen on August 22, 2002, and was reported missing by a family member the next day, said Flask, Cleveland’s public safety director. She was 21 at the time, according Cleveland police.
— Berry was last seen after finishing her shift at a Burger King in Cleveland in 2003. It was the eve of her 17th birthday.
— DeJesus, of Cleveland, disappeared nearly a year later, in April 2004. She was 14.
— The three women “relied on each other for survival,” a law enforcement source with firsthand knowledge of the investigation said. The three interacted during their captivity, though they were typically kept in separate rooms, according to the source.
— The man who allegedly held three young women captive would often test them by pretending to leave, then returning suddenly to discipline them if they made any move to escape, the same source told CNN. Amanda Berry — the 27-year-old captive who pushed to get free Monday — “just knew” that (suspect Ariel) Castro was gone at the time and “had hit her breaking point,” according to the source.
— When Berry escaped, the two other young women also being held in the house could have run but chose not to, the law enforcement source with firsthand knowledge of the investigation said. The two other women who did not flee had “succumbed” to “their reality,” the source said, describing them as brainwashed and fearful.
— None of the three women was bound on the day they were freed, according to the source. Earlier, Cleveland’s police chief told NBC’s “Today” show that “we have confirmation that they were bound, and there (were) chains and ropes in the home.”
— Michelle Knight’s missing persons report from the Cleveland Police Department describes her as having “mental abnormalities”; many family members seemed to be unaware that she was missing.
— The mother of Michelle Knight told NBC on Wednesday that she cried when she heard her daughter was found. Barbara Knight told NBC that she had been looking for her daughter during the years she was gone. “She’s probably angry at the world because she thought she would never be found but thank God that somebody did.” 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,” she said.
— Michelle Knight was at Cleveland’s Metro Health Medical Center on Wednesday morning, hospital spokeswoman Tina Shaerban-Arundel said. The spokeswoman did not say what Knight was being treated for, but did say that Knight “is in good condition.” On Tuesday, the hospital said that it had released all three rescued women. Shaerban-Arundel said Wednesday that the hospital stood by its Tuesday statement, but she did not elaborate.
— Gina DeJesus spent Tuesday reuniting with family members. Balloons dotted the front yard. Also present: a sign that was first hung on a fence outside the home when she was first reported missing nine years ago. Her 32-year-old sister, Mayra DeJesus, told CNN’s Poppy Harlow on Tuesday that Gina — for all the hell she’s gone through — is in “good spirits.”
— Gina DeJesus was greeted by cheers when she returned Wednesday afternoon to a family home in Cleveland.
— Her father said that he never doubted that his daughter was alive and never stopped looking for her. “I knew she needed me and I never gave up, I never gave up searching for her,” Felix DeJesus said, moments after his daughter arrived.
— Her aunt, Sandra Ruiz, expressed thanks Wednesday afternoon for those who supported the family over the years. “There are not enough words to say or express the joy that we feel … for the return of … Gina,” Ruiz said.
— The aunt also asked the community not to forget Ashley Summers, who was last seen in July 2007. “Now we need to… rally together to look next door and bring …. Ashley Summers, home,” Ruiz said, adding that her family feels connected in spirit to missing people like Summers.
— Amanda Berry told her grandmother, Fern Gentry, that she’s “fine” and that the 6-year-old girl also rescued Monday from a Cleveland home is indeed her own. “I love you honey, thank God,” her tearful grandmother said, in a call recorded by CNN affiliate WJHL on Tuesday. “… I’ve thought about you all this time. I never forgot about you.”
— Late Wednesday morning, authorities escorted Berry, her daughter and her sister, Beth Serrano, to Serrano’s Cleveland house. Serrano came outside and talked to reporters briefly, saying: “Our family would request privacy so my sister, niece and I can have time to recover. … Please respect our privacy until we are ready to make our statements.” Police initially said Berry would address the media, but it was later announced that she would not speak publicly Wednesday.
— A fund has been set up — the Cleveland Courage Fund — to raise money for the long-missing women and others affected, the city of Cleveland announced Wednesday on Twitter. Money will go toward supporting those who have been held captive and organizations that assist them.
— Law enforcement authorities on Wednesday afternoon searched a boarded-up house and detached garage two doors down from the Cleveland home of Ariel Castro.
— FBI agents in protective suits were on site, accompanied by dogs. Some of the agents could be seen carrying shovels.
— Nina Samoylicz, who lives near Ariel Castro’s home, said she called police about three years ago after spotting a naked woman in the backyard of Castro’s house. Samoylicz said when she called out to the woman, a man told the woman to get in the house, then ran in himself. “(The police) thought we was playing, joking, they didn’t believe us,” Samoylicz said.
— Faliceonna Lopez, Samoylicz’ sister, told a slightly different version of events Tuesday on CNN’s “Piers Morgan Live.” She said after seeing the naked woman, they told their mother, not police. The mother, Annita Lugo, told Morgan that she didn’t call police, either, saying, “I definitely would have called then but it was hours later and I really — I really didn’t — you know, I was just stuck. I was dumbfounded, didn’t know how to take it, you know?”
— Sgt. Sammy Morris, a Cleveland police spokesman, told CNN that the department had no record of a 911 call reporting a naked woman at Castro’s address. And Wednesday, a city spokeswoman said flatly that there was no truth to claims that any reports were made.
— Another neighbor, Israel Lugo, said he heard yelling in the house in November 2011 and called police to investigate, but that they left after no one answered the door. Police took to Twitter on Wednesday to deny that they received a call about “women held or women banging on windows.”
— Officials have no indication that anybody living near the Cleveland home ever called authorities about anything suspicious there, Flask said Tuesday. Flask said that assessment is based on an initial review of city databases; officials will continue to examine the databases, he said.
— Since the first woman’s disappearance, police were called to the home once — in January 2004 — Flask said. Investigators were there at the request of Children and Family Services to investigate a complaint that Castro left a child on a school bus while he was working as a school bus driver, Flask said. Investigators knocked on the home’s door but were “unsuccessful in making contact.” The matter was later dropped when investigators determined that Castro had no criminal intent in the bus incident, he added.
— Tito DeJesus, a man who says he played in a band with Cleveland abduction suspect Ariel Castro, told CNN’s Brooke Baldwin on Tuesday that Castro’s house seemed like “a normal environment.” DeJesus said he was last at the home two years ago. During the brief visit, DeJesus was only in the living room and the front of the house, he said. “It was quiet. It was like it was empty, nobody was in there. As if it was only him living in there,” DeJesus said.
— A few years ago, Tito DeJesus recalled that Castro asked him whether his “cousin” had been found. DeJesus said he eventually realized that Castro was referring to Georgina “Gina” DeJesus, one of the three women who police said were rescued from the home Monday. Tito DeJesus said that he doesn’t believe he’s related to Georgina, although he’s known her family for years.