Police in the north-central U.S. city of Cleveland are praising the bravery of three women who were found alive late Monday after vanishing for a decade.
Police say they have arrested three brothers for the women’s kidnapping: 54-year-old Pedro Castro, 50-year-old Onil Castro and 52-year-old Ariel Castro, the owner of the house where the women were found.
Cleveland Deputy Police Chief Ed Tomba told reporters the real hero was Amanda Berry, the kidnapped woman who escaped and called the police.
“Help me! I am Amanda Berry. I need police. I have been kidnapped and I have been missing for 10 years, and I am here, I am free now,” Berry said on a recorded 911 call.
Authorities say the other two women, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight, are in good condition. A 6-year-old also found in the home is believed to be Ms. Berry’s daughter.
Neighbors say they were alerted to the women’s location Monday after hearing screams for help. One neighbor says he kicked out the bottom of the door so Berry and a young girl could escape and phone authorities.
The families of the rescued women say they are overjoyed to have them back.
“I will tell you this, because I was there to see her — all three girls — God works in mysterious ways,” said Sandra Ruiz, DeJesus’s aunt. “It is just unbelievable. These girls, these women are so strong, stronger than I am, I will tell you that much, and they all have a positive attitude, and this is what we need from everyone.”
Berry was reported missing in 2003 at the age of 16 when she did not return home from work at a local restaurant. DeJesus, then 14, vanished a year later on her way home from school. Knight was about 20 years old when she disappeared in 2002.
The cases had not been thought to be related before now.
Cleveland officials say they have no records of anyone calling about criminal activity at the house.