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Suspect in Cleveland kidnappings helped neighbors look for missing girl
First Published May 08 2013 07:22 am • Last Updated May 09 2013 08:17 am

CLEVELAND • In the years after his friend’s daughter vanished while walking home from school, Ariel Castro handed out fliers with the 14-year-old’s photo and performed music at a fundraiser held in her honor.

When neighbors gathered for a candlelight vigil just a year ago to remember the girl, Castro was there too, comforting the girl’s mother.

At a glance

Amanda Berry’s sister offers thanks, seeks privacy

The sister of Amanda Berry, one of the three women freed after being held captive for about a decade at an Ohio home, has made a brief statement saying the family is thankful for the community’s support but is asking for privacy.

Berry arrived at her sister’s house Wednesday morning.

Charges against the man who owns the home and his two brothers are expected to come Wednesday.

Hospital: 1 of 3 Ohio women in good condition

A Cleveland hospital says one of three women found alive in a house this week is now in good condition.

On Tuesday, Metro Health Medical Center had said Michelle Knight had been released. On Wednesday, a hospital spokeswoman said Knight was in good condition at the hospital. It’s not clear whether Knight was readmitted or if she actually never left the hospital.

The three women were rescued from captivity Monday. The other two were released from the same hospital Tuesday morning.

Police say Knight was the first of the three abducted in 2002.

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Castro, just like everyone else in the tight-knit, mostly Puerto Rican neighborhood, seemed shaken by the 2004 disappearance of Gina DeJesus and another teenager who went missing the year before.

Now he and his brothers are in custody after a frantic 911 call led police to his run-down house, where authorities say DeJesus and two other women missing for about a decade were held captive.

Authorities have until Wednesday evening to bring charges against the men.

Amanda Berry, 27, Michelle Knight, 32, and DeJesus, about 23, had apparently been held captive in the house since their teens or early 20s, police said.

Berry went to her sister’s home Wednesday morning. Shortly after, her sister Beth Serrano thanked everyone for their effort and support over the years, adding "please respect our privacy until we are ready to make our statement, and thank you."

As word of Berry’s homecoming spread, a large crowd swelled in the street outside the home decorated with dozens of balloons, and homemade signs, one reading "We Never Lost Hope Mandy."

A 6-year-old girl believed to be Berry’s daughter also was found in the home Monday, police Deputy Chief Ed Tomba said. He wouldn’t say who the father was.

About a week ago, Castro took the 6-year-old girl to a nearby park, where they played in the grass, said Israel Lugo, a neighbor who lives down the street. "I asked him whose kid was it, and he told me his girlfriend’s daughter," Lugo said.


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The women were reunited with joyous family members but remained in seclusion Tuesday. They were rescued after Berry kicked out the bottom portion of a locked screen door and used a neighbor’s telephone to call 911. An officer showed up minutes later and Berry ran out and threw her arms around the officer, a neighbor said.

Police identified the other two suspects as the 52-year-old Castro’s brothers, Pedro Castro, 54, and Onil Castro, 50. Calls to the jail went unanswered, and there was no response to interview requests sent to police, the jail and city officials.

A relative of the three brothers said their family was "totally shocked" after hearing about the missing women being found at the home.

Juan Alicea said the arrests of his wife’s brothers had left relatives "as blindsided as anyone else" in their community. He said he hadn’t been to the home of his brother-in-law Ariel Castro since the early 1990s but had eaten dinner with Castro at a different brother’s house shortly before the arrests were made Monday.

Police would not say how the women were taken captive or whether they were sexually assaulted. Police spokesman Sammy Morris confirmed on Wednesday that the ropes and chains were among evidence collected inside the house by law enforcement officials.

Police Chief Michael McGrath told NBC’s "Today" show on Wednesday that the women were restrained and "released out in the back yard once in a while."

McGrath said he was "absolutely" sure police did everything they could to find the women over the years. He disputed claims by neighbors that officers had been called to the house before for suspicious circumstances. "We have no record of those calls coming in over the past 10 years," he said.

Investigators also are talking with relatives of at least one other missing woman from the neighborhood.

The aunt of a 14-year-old girl who disappeared in 2007 near the house where the missing women were found says the girl’s mother has spoken with the FBI about her niece.

"We’re hoping for our miracle too," said Debra Summers, who described her niece, Ashley Summers, as not the type of girl who would leave without coming back.

Ariel Castro owned the home where the three girls were found in a neighborhood dotted with boarded-up houses just south of downtown.

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