CLEVELAND - Cleveland police officials say three women kidnapped and held captive for as long as a decade have been released from an area hospital and are now being debriefed by detectives.
Three middle-aged brothers were arrested after police, summoned by a frantic 911 call, raided a house in a residential area on Monday and rescued Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight.
Each had gone missing separately. Berry disappeared at age 16 on April 21, 2003, when she called her sister to say she was getting a ride home from her job at a Burger King.
DeJesus went missing at age 14 on her way home from school about a year later. They were found just a few miles from where they had gone missing.
Police said Knight went missing in 2002. The Plain Dealer quoted Michelle Knight's grandmother, Deborah Knight, as saying her daughter believed that Michelle was last seen several years ago in a van with an older man at a shopping plaza.
Along with the kidnapped women, police found a 6-year-old girl who they say appears to be Berry's daughter, likely fathered by one of her kidnappers.
A hospital physician said all three women -- who had apparently been tied up during their captivity -- were in fair condition. All three were released on Tuesday morning.
"Most important, the victims' physical and emotional well-being are the main concern and have to be addressed," Police Chief Michael McGrath said at a news conference.
The three suspects were identified as brothers, Ariel Castro, 52, the owner of the house and a Cleveland school bus driver, Pedro Castro, 54, and O'Neal Castro, 50.
Ariel Castro, accused with his brothers of kidnapping and holding three women for a decade, was a former school bus driver and outgoing resident of Cleveland's Seymour Ave., at least one neighbor says.
Records show that Castro was arrested for domestic violence in 1993, but that a grand jury declined to indict him. They also show that Castro, 52, owned the home at 2207 Seymour Ave. where the women were found.
Juan Perez told Cleveland's NewsChannel5 that he grew up two houses down and has known Castro since Perez was 5 or 6 years old.
Perez told the TV station that almost everyone on the block knew Castro.
"He was a nice guy, he would come around and say hi. He gave the kids rides up and down the street on his four-wheeler," Perez said. "he would asked me if I wanted a ride... He seemed like he was a good guy to the kids that were here... I didn't think anything of it."
Perez said Castro was not shy about attending backyard parties or barbecues. Perez also told NewsChannel5 he would see a bus parked outside of 2207 Seymour Ave., but that later on, he began to think Castro owned another property.
He described Castro as stopping at the home sometimes 10 minutes or an hour at time.
"Now it's like, red flag, red flag, red flag, somebody should've said something," he said.
Perez told NewsChannel5 there's a lesson to learned.
"I'm not the only one on the block that feels ashamed to know that we didn't notice anything," Perez told the TV station. "I mean, I feel like my head's low, I work at a school, I work with kids, my head's - I have a heavy heart right now."
Police say the women were in "fairly good health" but that officials wanted to move slowly in questioning them about how they were abducted and what went on in the house over the past decade.
"Right now, we want to let them spend some time with ther family and take this process very, very slowly and respectful for their families and the young girls' needs," said Deputy Police Chief Ed Tomba.
The three women, along with the 6-year-old girl, were rescued by a neighbor, Charles Ramsey, who heard Berry yelling for help.
"I heard screaming," he told WEWS-TV. "I'm eating my McDonald's. I come outside. I see this girl going nuts trying to get out of a house."
Ramsey said the door was only wide enough for a hand to fit through, so they kicked out the bottom and made enough space for her to escape.
Berry, who crawled out along with the 6-year-old girl, said there were other women help captive inside and insisted on calling 911. Police quickly swarmed the house and found the other young women, apparently tied up inside.
"This isn't the ending we usually hear to these stories, so we're very happy," said Gerald Maloney, an emergency room physician at the Cleveland hospital where all three were being treated.
"They are able to speak with us. Beyond that, I can't go into any further details," Maloney said.
Cleveland officials say they have no records of anyone calling about criminal activity at the house where three kidnapped women were kept for years before being found.
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