Did Cleveland Cops Miss Chances to Rescue the 3 Young Women?

05/08/2013 at 07:30 AM EDT

Cleveland Cops Missed Clues in Kidnapping Cases, Say Neighbors
Amanda Marie Berry (left) and Georgina Lynn Dejesus
Reuters/Landov
Cleveland police are reviewing whether they may have missed chances to rescue the three young women held captive for up to a decade in a house where neighbors say they repeatedly reported something was amiss.

In 2004, Cleveland police showed up at the home after one of the suspects, Ariel Castro, a school bus driver at the time, left behind a passenger.

When no one answered, the officers left, officials say, adding that the bus incident was not a criminal matter.

But neighbors say there were more recent calls that could have led to a rescue.



Faliceonna Lopez, 16, says she once saw naked girls at least her same age hiding behind a mattress on the Castro property. She told her mom, who called police. "I don't think the police did anything," a clearly frustrated Lopez said. Her mother, Annita Lugo, backed up her daughter's story.

Israel Lugo, another family member, said he called police in 2011 after his sister spotted a woman with a baby in the home, banging on the window "like she wants to get out."

"The cops came. They pounded on that man's door around 15, 20 times, real hard. They looked in the driveway, they got back in the squad car and left," he told MSNBC.

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

Sgt. Sammy Morris, a Cleveland police spokesman, told CNN that the department had no record of a 911 call reporting a naked woman at Castro's address. And Wednesday, a city spokeswoman said that there was no truth to claims that any reports were made.

"Media reports of multiple calls to the Cleveland Police reporting suspicious activity and the mistreatment of women at 2207 Seymour are false," spokeswoman Maureen Harper told PEOPLE in an e-mailed statement.

The Cleveland case is disturbingly similar to that of Jaycee Dugard, who in 1991 was abducted at age 11 by Phillip Garrido, a registered sex offender.

Parole officers who were supervising Garrido and who visited his house encountered Dugard and one of her two daughters with Garrido, but did not investigate further, according to a California report issued in July 2010 – nearly a year after Dugard and the two girls were recovered, when the state paid the Dugard family $20 million to settle claims that parole officers dropped the ball.

For much more on the Cleveland kidnapping case, including details about the women's harrowing escape, pick up this week's PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday

With reporting from ASSOCIATED PRESS

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