11:07 AM EDT 05/20/2015
Originally posted 08/07/2013 08:45AM
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.
Originally posted 08/01/2013 09:30AM
When Amanda Berry gave birth to her daughter on Dec. 25, 2006, the baby was not breathing. Ariel Castro, whose DNA proved he was the baby's father, turned to Michelle Knight and threatened to kill her if she didn't save the baby. According to new court documents, Michelle breathed into the baby's mouth and "miraculously, the baby survived."
And during Ariel Castro's hearing on Thursday, she proved to be a hero again when she delivered a powerful victim impact statement.
"I cried every night. I was so alone. I worried about what would happen to me and the other girls every day. Days never got shorter. Days turned into nights, nights turned into days. The years turned into eternity. I knew nobody cared about me. He told me that my family didn't care," Knight explained through tears. "Nobody should ever have to go through what I went through."
Originally posted 07/26/2013 11:10AM
A Cleveland man accused of holding three women captive in his home for about a decade has agreed to plead guilty in a deal to avoid the death penalty.
Ariel Castro entered the new plea Friday. In exchange, prosecutors said the 53-year-old Castro would be sentenced to life without parole plus 1,000 years.
Castro had been charged in a 977-count indictment.
Originally posted 07/10/2013 08:00AM
When Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight reunited July 2 to record a video thanking supporters, they could not hold back their emotions.
"They cried and hugged. They have genuine happiness to be alive, to be out there, to just BE," Chris Kelly, the lawyer managing the Cleveland Courage Fund on behalf of the women, says in this week's PEOPLE.
In the video that posted Tuesday on YouTube, they thank family, friends and complete strangers for the outpouring of support they've received since escaping alleged kidnapper Ariel Castro after a decade in captivity. Castro has pleaded not guilty to 329 counts including 139 charges of rape.
Originally posted 07/09/2013 06:00AM
With smiles and determined confidence, the three Cleveland women who survived 10 years in captivity released a joint video Tuesday to warmly thank their supporters and show how far they've come in the two months since their dramatic and unexpected rescue.
"I want everyone to know how happy I am to be home with my family and my friends. It's been unbelievable," said Amanda Berry, now 27.
"I may have been through hell and back," said Michelle Knight, at 32 the oldest of the trio, "but I am strong enough to walk through hell with a smile on my face, and with my head held high, and my feet firmly on the ground."
Originally posted 06/12/2013 09:45AM
A man accused of holding Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight captive in his Cleveland home for about a decade pleaded not guilty Wednesday to hundreds of charges, including rape and kidnapping.
Ariel Castro is charged with kidnapping the three women and keeping them – sometimes restrained in chains – along with a 6-year-old girl he fathered with one of the women.
Castro, 52, didn't speak during the arraignment, which lasted less than a minute. He stood motionless, dressed in an orange prison outfit, and looked toward the floor as the plea was entered.
Originally posted 06/07/2013 06:45PM
A man accused of holding three women captive in his home for a decade has been indicted on 329 charges including kidnapping, rape and murder for allegedly causing an abortion.
A Cuyahoga County, Ohio, grand jury returned the indictment Friday against Ariel Castro, a former school bus driver fired last fall.
"Today’s indictments represent a first major step in the criminal justice process," said County Prosecutor Timothy J. McGinty. "Our investigation continues, and we will present our findings to the grand jury."
Originally posted 05/17/2013 01:00PM
Though each was young and vulnerable, all three of Ariel Castro's alleged kidnap victims came armed with strengths that would help them endure the years of horror ahead.
Gina DeJesus, 14, had the buoyancy and affection of a well-loved child who knew that home and family were worth fighting for. Strong-willed Amanda Berry, 16, was, to her family, “the glue that kept everyone calm," says childhood friend Lisha Jacome, who lived briefly in the Berry home.
A frequent babysitter for her sister's two daughters, Berry had child-care skills when she bore Castro's child in 2007. For that birth Castro designated his oldest captive, Michelle Knight, as midwife – and threatened to kill her if the baby died. The mother of a 2-year-old son when she was kidnapped at age 21, Knight not only had experienced childbirth, she had helped perform a delivery of the family dog's puppies as a kid.
Originally posted 05/15/2013 08:25AM
Ariel Castro, who is facing kidnapping and rape charges over the alleged abduction of three Cleveland women, will plead not guilty, his lawyers say.
"The initial portrayal of him is one of a quote 'monster,' and that is not the impression that I got," one of his two attorneys, Craig Weintraub, said in an interview that aired on Wednesday's Today show.
Added Castro's co-counsel, attorney Jaye Schlachet: "He is a human being, but what is offensive is that the women and the media want to demonize this man before they know the whole story, and I think it's unfair and not equitable."
Originally posted 05/13/2013 07:05AM
Ariel Castro's two brothers have disowned and distanced themselves from their sibling, whom they consider "a monster" who should rot in jail following his arrest last week on accusations of kidnapping and holding three young women captive in his grimy Cleveland home for up to a decade until their rescue last Monday.
"I had nothing to do with this, and I don't know how my brother got away with it for so many years," Pedro Castro, 54, in a joint interview with his brother Onil Castro, 50, conducted by CNN's Martin Savidge this weekend.
Initially believed to be potential suspects, Pedro and Onil were arrested last week and then released when authorities said the brothers had no involvement in the kidnappings. Their 52-year-old middle brother, remains in a Cleveland jail on $8 million bond, charged with four counts of kidnapping and three counts of rape.
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