Amanda Berry, who was kidnapped on her own birthday back in 2003, made a desperate emergency call after breaking through a door inside the house in Cleveland, Ohio, and screaming for help from a passer-by.
The woman also released Gina DeJesus, 23, who was lost in 2004 aged 14, and Michelle Knight, 32, who vanished 11 years ago. The house’s owner, 52-year-old Ariel Castro, was arrested with his brothers Pedro, 54, and Oneil, 50.
“As far as investigations, we believe we’ve got three suspects,” Ed Tomba, Cleveland’s deputy police chief, said. “We’re going to charge those suspects. We believe we have the people responsible.”
“The real hero here is Amanda,” Ed Tomba, Cleveland’s deputy police chief, said at a press conference today. “She came out of that house and started it all.” Stephen Anthony, the head of the FBI office in Cleveland, declared: “The nightmare is over”.
Meanwhile, police is questioned about their past inquiries after all three women were last seen within yards of the same spot, about 3.5 miles from Mr Castro’s house, and that a daughter of Mr Castro said in 2004 that she was the last to see Miss DeJesus alive, reports The Telegraph.
“We didn’t search hard enough. She was right under our nose the whole time,” said Angel Arroyo, a church pastor who had handed out flyers of DeJesus in the neighborhood.
City officials said a database search found no records of calls to the house where the hostages had been kept for the decade or reports of anything amiss during the years in question.
“We have no indication that any of the neighbors, bystanders, witnesses or anyone else has ever called regarding any information, regarding activity that occurred at that house on Seymour Avenue,” Mayor Johnson admitted on Tuesday.
The now-former hostages were delivered to hospital, where they were treated for dehydration and malnourishment. Miss Berry was at the bedside of her six-year-old daughter, who was believed to have been fathered by Mr Castro while she was in captivity.
Mr Castro’s son, Anthony, 31, had no idea about what was going on in his father’s home. He even wrote a detailed account of Miss DeJesus’s disappearance for a local newspaper in 2004. “This is beyond comprehension,” he told local news. “I’m truly stunned.”
Castro moved into the area about 20 years ago. Neighbors considered him a lonely person who always kept his windows closed and would only leave the home at night.
In 1993, Castro was arrested for domestic violence, but the charges were dropped and he pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct.
A neighbor revealed to reporters that he had even barbecued with the home’s owner and never suspected something was amiss: “There was nothing exciting about him – well, until today,” he said.
Castro, who previously worked as a bus driver, was fired last November after being caught making an illegal U-turn. In a post to his Facebook page last week, he said: “Miracles really do happen, God is good”.
A month ago the former bus driver took to Facebook to announce the news that he had just become a grandfather for a fifth time.