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More Questions Than Answers In Cleveland Kidnappings


From NPR News, it's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.


And I’m Robert Siegel. In Cleveland, Ohio, there are more questions than answers today, as investigators piece together the kidnappings of three women. They were rescued from a house last night, after roughly a decade in captivity. Three brothers are behind bars. Now, police and residents are asking how this could have happened in that working class neighborhood. From member station WCPN in Cleveland, Nick Castele reports.

NICK CASTELE, BYLINE: Authorities say they've arrested three brothers in connection with the women's abductions - Ariel Castro, Pedro Castro and O'Neal Castro. They're all in their 50s. Cleveland's deputy police chief, Ed Tomba, said during a press conference today his office is still sorting out what charges to file.

ED TOMBA: We've got three suspects. We're going to charge those suspects. We believe we have the people responsible for that.

CASTELE: But there are many other questions from this intertwined trio of cases. Michelle Knight, Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus went missing on Cleveland's west side between 2002 and 2004. Berry and DeJesus were in their teens, and Knight was 20. The community held vigils for years. For Ashley Allen(ph), who says her brothers knew Berry, the story of the missing women became a part of her daily life.

ASHLEY ALLEN: Yeah, we all talked about it when we were growing up because, you know, you never stopped seeing those posters. You go into Wal-Mart, there's a poster of Amanda Berry; there's a poster of Gina DeJesus.

CASTELE: Over the years, police searched for clues and even dug up a field, looking for remains. Then, this week, they got a 911 call from Amanda Berry, who had escaped from a home with help from a neighbor.


AMANDA BERRY: I've been kidnapped, and I've been missing for 10 years. And I'm here - I'm free now.

CASTELE: Knight and DeJesus were rescued when police arrived. Also with the women was a 6-year-old child police believe is the daughter of Amanda Berry. Police didn't say where the child was born, or who the father is. As for the Castro brothers, neighbors say they didn't suspect anything was amiss at Ariel's home. Israel Lugo(ph) lived three doors down.

ISRAEL LUGO: I knew this man, as I say, as an average Joe. And it just hurts, you know what I'm saying? Because we all thought of him as a good person, which - he had two faces, I guess.

CASTELE: Lugo says he did see Castro recently, with a small child.

LUGO: I seen him Sunday at the park with a little girl. I'm at the park with my daughter. He's there with his daughter - I mean, with the little girl. We sit and talked.

CASTELE: Marco Claudio(ph), another man from the neighborhood, says he believes he's seen Castro at vigils and walks for the missing women.

MARCO CLAUDIO: I seen this guy everywhere. I seen him everywhere. Every time we went to the walks, I seen him. Every time there was a meeting, every time they had funds and stuff around, he was always there - like he was supporting the family.

CASTELE: Claudio says he and Castro often said hello to one another on the street.

CLAUDIO: Every Spanish person - you know, we say hi, how you doing? Just keep on walking, you know.

CASTELE: Court records show the brothers had been in trouble before. O'Neal Castro was found guilty in 1999, of drug abuse and intoxication. In 2008, Pedro Castro was convicted of disorderly conduct and intoxication. Ariel Castro had a series of run-ins with police, beginning in 1993. Authorities said they were rarely called to Ariel Castro's home, although they did interview him once, in 2004. He was a bus driver for the Cleveland Schools, and had left a child on the bus. He wasn't charged with a crime.

As the women and their families begin to heal and cope, Deputy Chief Ed Tomba says police will take their time getting information from the victims.

TOMBA: They're the ones that are going to lead us down that path as to exactly what happened, and how they ended up with these guys, and how they ended up in that house.

CASTELE: FBI special agent Stephen Anthony says the women's families never gave up hope, and neither did law enforcement.

STEPHEN ANTHONY: As you can imagine, words can't describe the emotions being felt by all. Yes, law-enforcement professionals do cry.

CASTELE: The women's rescue brings to an end a decade of waiting. But now, it begins a new period - one of questions.

For NPR News, I’m Nick Castele in Cleveland. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Nick Castele
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