Ariel Castro's House Demolished as Survivor Michelle Knight Watches

08/07/2013 at 08:45 AM EDT

Michelle Knight Watches Ariel Castro's House Destroyed
Ariel Castro's former house; Michelle Knight (inset)
Bill Pugliano/Getty; Inset: AP
The Cleveland house of horrors where convicted kidnapper Ariel Castro kept three women captive for a decade went under the bulldozer Wednesday morning.

And there to watch it fall: survivor Michelle Knight, carrying a bouquet of yellow balloons in a symbolic moment of triumph now that she and the other survivors, Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus, move forward to reclaim their lives.

The razing occurs less than a week after Castro, 53, was sentenced to life in prison plus 1,000 years.

The women were rescued on May 6 after a neighbor saw Berry frantically trying to tear open a door and stepped up to pull her and the others to safety.

Members of DeJesus's family watched Wednesday morning as a yellow bulldozer struck a first blow against the infamous two-story home, located at 2207 Seymour Ave, reports Cleveland's WKYC.

A small crowd gathered across the street applauded as the demolition commenced.

The three survivors have kept a low profile since their rescue, releasing a joint video to thank the community and nation for their support.

Knight, who was starved and beaten to force her to miscarry Castro's child, bravely delivered a powerful impact statement at Castro's sentencing hearing, calling her fellow survivors her "teammates," and telling Castro that, after making their lives hell, he was now about to begin his own hell in prison.

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