Radio Sandwell News

Missing US women found alive after a decade

2013-05-07 06:13:06

Three young women who vanished about a decade ago in the US state of Ohio have been found and are in hospital in a fair condition, officials have said.

Amanda Berry disappeared aged 16 in 2003, while Gina DeJesus went missing at the age of 14 a year later.

They and Michele Knight, 32, who vanished in 2002 at the age of 20, were found in a house in the city of Cleveland, police confirmed.

A 52-year-old suspect has been arrested in connection with the case.

"This isn't the ending we usually hear to these stories," said Dr Gerald Maloney in a brief news conference outside Metro Health hospital in Cleveland. "We're very happy."

Speaking amid cheers from spectators, he added the women were able to speak to hospital staff but he declined to give further details.

The BBC's Jane Little says it was assumed the girls were dead, and the mother of one victim said she believed her daughter had been sold into slavery.

At least one of the women is reported to have a baby.

'Here a long time'

In a frantic call to police released to the news media, Ms Berry identified her captor as Ariel Castro. She said she had escaped after he had left the house.

Local news stations say Mr Castro is the man in police custody.

"I am thankful that Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight have been found alive," Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson said.

"We have many unanswered questions regarding this case and the investigation will be ongoing."

A neighbour said he had seen a woman screaming for help at the front door of the house.

Charles Ramsey said he suggested the woman open the door and exit, but she told him it was locked.

"We had to kick open the bottom," he said. "Lucky on that door it was aluminum. It was cheap. She climbed out with her daughter."

Mr Ramsey then sheltered the woman, who said there were others in the house.

Ms Berry was last heard from when she called her sister on 21 April 2003 to say she would get a lift home from work at a Burger King restaurant.

In 2004, Ms DeJesus was said to be on her way home from school when she went missing.

Their cases were re-opened last year when a prison inmate tipped off authorities that Ms Berry may have been buried in Cleveland. He received a four-and-a-half-year sentence in prison for the false information.

Amanda Berry's mother, Louwana, died in March 2006, three years after her daughter's disappearance.


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