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Ear to the Ground

Horrific Details Emerge in Cleveland Kidnapping Case

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Posted on May 8, 2013
AP/Tony Dejak

Sheriff deputies stand outside the Cleveland home where three women who vanished a decade ago were found.

The three women who were kidnapped and held captive in a Cleveland home for a decade were raped, beaten mercilessly while pregnant, kept in ropes and chains and forced to crawl around on their hands and knees naked in the backyard by their captors, according to reports.

Michelle Knight, Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus—who had been separately reported as missing—were discovered alive Monday. Police have arrested three brothers in the case, Ariel Castro—who owned the home—Pedro Castro and Onil Castro. Formal charges are expected to be filed against them soon.

Cleveland Police Chief Michael McGrath described some of the gruesome conditions the three victims were forced to face during an appearance on NBC’s “Today” show on Wednesday morning.

“We have confirmation that they were bound and there was chains and ropes in the home,” McGrath said. He added that they were very rarely permitted outside. McGrath offered few other details, although he said authorities would know more once the interviews with the women were completed.

WKYC, the NBC affiliate in Cleveland, has also reported that the women were raped and may have been pregnant as many as five times. While with child, WKYC reported, the women were subjected to horrific beatings, and one of the women may have had three miscarriages. The only child known to have survived is a 6-year-old who Berry has said is her daughter.

Neighbors also reported calling police on numerous occasions, including after witnessing naked women on dog leashes being forced to crawl around the backyard of the home, but evidently police did not take action.

USA Today:

Elsie Cintron, who lives three houses away, said her daughter once saw a naked woman crawling on her hands and knees in the backyard several years ago and called police. “But they didn’t take it seriously,” she said.

Another neighbor, Israel Lugo, said he heard pounding on some of the doors of Castro’s house, which had plastic bags on the windows, in November 2011. Lugo said officers knocked on the front door, but no one answered. “They walked to the side of the house and then left,” he said.

...Lugo said about two years ago his sister told him she heard a woman pounding on a window at Castro’s home as if she needed help. When his sister looked up, she saw a woman and a baby standing in a window half covered with a wooden plank. His sister told him and Lugo called the police.

Later, Lugo’s mother called the police because Ariel Castro would park his school bus in front of their home and bring bags full of McDonald’s and drinks into his home. They wondered why he needed so much food. Police again responded but didn’t enter the home.

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Charles Ramsey, a neighbor of Ariel Castro’s who has lived in the area for about a year, is credited with helping to rescue the women and has been hailed as a hero. He describes how he helped free the women below:

—Posted by Tracy Bloom.

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