Return to Transcripts main page


Cleveland Police Hold Press Conference Regarding the Three Missing Women Found; Three Missing Ohio Women Found Alive

Aired May 7, 2013 - 09:30   ET


ED TOMBA, CLEVELAND DEPUTY CHIEF OF POLICE: Out of respect for her, what these young girls went through and if you would have saw them last night, you'd have nothing but compassion and love in your heart for them. So as far as investigations, we believe we have three suspects. We're going to charge those suspects. We believe we have people responsible for that.

So right now, you know, we want to let them spend some time with their family and take this process very, very, very slow and respectful to their families and to the young girl's needs.


TOMBA: That will be something that is up to the prosecutor. What we do, our policy here in the city of Cleveland, is we gather the facts. We are mandated to charge within 36 hours of an arrest, which we will. We are mandated to see a prosecutor. They will review the facts and it will be up to the prosecutor to charge. I would anticipate that this case be heard by a Cuyahoga County grand jury. When those charges come out of the grand jury, you'll know exactly what's going on.


TOMBA: Right now, be haven't interviewed them. I keep referring back to the three young ladies. They are 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. But the three are under arrest. They will be afforded their constitutional rights, but we are going to attempt to talk to them.


TOMBA: Absolutely. Amanda is the one. She came out of the house and that started it all.

QUESTION: You mentioned earlier (INAUDIBLE) when was the last time you had a lead and were you working them as abductions or runaways?


QUESTION: When was the last time you had the leads? And were you working those cases as abductions or runaways? ANTHONY: We were working them as abductions and we were receiving tips and leads consistently. I mean, some periods, you know, more than others, throughout this 12-year period regarding Gina and Amanda. So I can't quantify exactly -- we could get that for you and maybe the latest series of tips, but we review them regularly with the family and with out partners in the Cleveland police. And as the chief and Deputy Chief Tomba mentioned, we dug up two locations believing that we had evidence based on information developed that they were in a particular location. So any investigation like this, it's going to ebb and flow. As far as how many leads you're getting, but not a year went by, not actually probably a three month period went by, that we didn't have some lead generated by the family or by the public.



ANTHONY: That is correct. Absolutely. None of those tips. Yep.


ANTHONY: I'm going to invite Deputy Chief Tomba --

TOMBA: Yes, one did. The one's driver's license was that address on Seymour. So we assume he lived there.

QUESTION: Which one was that?

TOMBA: Ariel. The other two had different addresses on the lower west side.

QUESTION (AUDIO BREAK) -- school bus driver. Do you believe this is how he gained Amanda and Gina's trust? Did he drive them to school?

TOMBA: We don't have any evidence of that, that that's how it was. But like I said, that's up to the girls to tell us. We still don't know. That is one of the great unknowns right now. We anticipate getting that information from the ladies, not from the suspects.

QUESTION: Can you tell us more about Michele's disappearance? Most of us know about Gina De Jesus and Amanda Berry but we don't know much about Michele's disappearance. Can you tell us a little bit more about that?

TOMBA: I can't tell you the exact date but Michele is a young lady that was reported missing over 11 years ago. And she was the focus of very few tips and leads that we the got. Most of the media and most of the community awareness was for the young ladies. She was 20 years old when she left, but most of it was geared towards the two young girls.

QUESTION: Was she taken from the same area that Amanda and Gina was taken from?

MARTIN L. FLASK, DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC SAFETY, CLEVELAND: I'll try and provide a little additional information on Michele Knight. She was last seen August 22nd of 2002. She was 20 at the time of her disappearance. She's now age 32. Her last address here in the city of Cleveland was on Walton Avenue. The last time she was seen in 2002 was at West 106 Lorraine avenue. The missing persons report was made the following day a family member. So she's been misting since 2002. So, she's been missing consistently and consecutively since 2002.

QUESTION: The other two brothers not living at the house, are they married? What's their marital status?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We don't know. We're going to take two more questions and then wrap it up.


QUESTION: Did the girls say they knew the Castro brothers?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's still a matter of the investigation.

QUESTION: Where were Michele and Gina found in the house after Amanda got out?

TOMBA: They actually came out of the house once the police approached and got into the residence. But Amanda was the one that came out on to the street. Amanda was the one that generated the 911 call. A zone car responded along with a couple detectives and they came out of the house. They didn't have to go in house looking for them.

QUESTION: They were not constrained?

TOMBA: No, they came out on their own.


TOMBA: The house is a crime scene. It's going to be processed. But she came out of the lower part of the front door. It's a screen door. There's a lower part of it. That's what she broke out and crawled out of the door.

QUESTION: Are the girls in a safe place now?

TOMBA: Yes, they are.


QUESTION (INAUDIBLE) At commencement the other day, President Obama said we're not all strangers, what does it say (INAUDIBLE)? Not about the police, just in general about the city? (ph)

TOMBA: I'm a lifelong city resident myself. It just reiterates from city hall on down through the division of police that it's a partnership between a community and law enforcement. During the course of this investigation we're going to look and we're going to see if there was something maybe the community did miss or there was something. It's going to be part of an ongoing review and an educational process. But it's quite a challenge. We balance that right for everybody's privacy to what law enforcement is doing. So I don't have a pat answer for that. I just know that, you know, I know I can count on my law enforcement partners and friends. We need to count on our community. That's so, so important. Like I said, we can't stress that enough. That comes all the way down from our mayor down to our chief about how important members of our community is.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're going to close out with the Chief of Police Mike McGrath saying a couple words. I want to e remind you that the division and the FBI will make updates either via press release or press conferences depending upon the information.

MICHAEL MCGRATH, CHIEF OF POLICE, CLEVELAND: Thanks, Sam. First of all, thanks for being here. And most important, and I stressed it in my few comments, are the victims. Sensitivity to the victims, their emotional well-being. That's what we're going to address first. After we get that stabilized we will move forward with debriefing process. So we need your cooperation on some of your questions because some of the questions may impact their emotions. The their state of mind currently right now. So you'll have to be patient with us as we proceed over next couple days, the next couple weeks, possibly a month with this investigation. Thank you.



CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: We're going to step away from this news conference being held in the city of Cleveland in Ohio. Precious information came out of this. This was what I was able to glean for you. The most startling, the most sad and probably the most expected, I should say, is that that 6-year-old girl taken out of the house with Amanda Berry, she escaped that house carrying this child. Police confirmed that 6-year-old girl is Amanda Berry's child. When asked if police knew who the father of the little girl was, they said we're still investigating that part of the story.

Police also said there were no calls by neighbors on this particular house on Seymour since 2006. They got no calls. They also said in January of 2004 the suspect in the case, the man who owns the house, his name is Ariel Castro, he was a bus driver for the city schools. He was investigated for leaving a child on a school bus in the depot. Police concluded at that time no intent was concluded, so he wasn't charged with anything. There was no evidence to charge him with anything at least according to police. They will be probably be re- examining that case.

The other thing we gleaned is the other two women being held captive, along with Amanda Berry came out of the house walking, which in my mind means they were not restrained in any way. Of course, we do not know that. Police just said the two women came out of house by themselves.

We have team coverage of the story from every single angle. Martin Savidge is in Cleveland. Marc Klaas is a child safety advocate. Paige Pate is a criminal defense and constitutional attorney, and Jeff Gardere is a psychologist. Mary Ellen O'Toole is a former senior profiler for the FBI. She will join us in a minute on the phone.

One of the big questions right now centers on the man arrested in connection with the case. Brian Cummings, a Cleveland councilman who represents the ward where Amanda Berry was found, identified that man as Ariel Castro. Police also arrested his two brothers, but say the 52-year-old Ariel does own the house where these women were found.

According to the Cleveland plain dealer, Castro was arrested at a nearby McDonald's. Castro and his brother have not yet been charged, but we do know, as I said, Castro is a former school bus driver. But a spokeswoman doesn't know how long he was there or whether he left voluntarily or whether he was fired.

Ariel Castro's Facebook page shows he loves guitar. It's the last post on his Facebook page was dated May 2nd where he wrote "miracles really do happen. God is good."

Ariel's uncle, Julio Castro, is with our Martin Savidge in that Cleveland neighborhood. Martin, was the uncle able to listen to the news conference at all?

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We were. And I'm joined right now by Julio Castro, he's the uncle. We both listened to the news conference. For the first time authorities have identified the other men in custody. They include Pedro Castro and Onil Castro. That's in addition to Ariel Castro, who as you say had already been identified. They are all your nephews. Is that right, Mr. Castro?


SAVIDGE: What is your reaction to all of this that was happening apparently in your nephew's home?

CASTRO: Stunning. It's stunning for the whole neighborhood.

SAVIDGE: Did you have any idea, any clue this was going on?

CASTRO: No, none whatsoever.

SAVIDGE: When was the last time you spoke to Ariel?

CASTRO: I would say about five or six years ago, I can't recall exactly. I'm a grocery store owner and they have a lot of people coming and going. A lot of people disappearing or moving, and you don't hear from them.

SAVIDGE: You weren't in close touch with them?

CASTRO: Not lately.

SAVIDGE: But at that time even six years ago according to authorities, those women were being held in his home on this street.

CASTRO: So I understand.

SAVIDGE: And he gave you no indication? CASTRO: No indication whatsoever.

SAVIDGE: None of the other nephews gave you indication?

CASTRO: None of the other family members.

SAVIDGE: So I mean, it has to be difficult for your family. A mixture of good news in that the young girls are rescued, but bad news because now your family members stand accused.

CASTRO: That is very correct.

SAVIDGE: What's the family's reaction?

CASTRO: I haven't been able to talk to immediate family other than by phone. Their reaction is surprising. Everybody is surprised of what's happening.

SAVIDGE: What would you say to your nephews if you could talk to them? What would you want to know?

CASTRO: What can I say? Shame on you.

SAVIDGE: This whole neighborhood, your store just practically on the corner of this street, everyone here, how is it possible for a decade or more those women can be held with no one really knowing?

CASTRO: I know. Especially the neighbors across the street from the house. Those people lived there forever.

SAVIDGE: You don't think anybody had any idea?

CASTRO: According to them, they said they had no clue, no idea, nothing.

SAVIDGE: Did the neighbors, as far as you know, ever call police and say you thought there are women being held here?

CASTRO: Not to my knowledge.

SAVIDGE: And your nephews never said anything to you? Never gave you any indication? Did you see them with a young child?


SAVIDGE: Never saw them walking with a little girl.


SAVIDGE: How do you think the family is going to cope with this now? What do you do?

CASTRO: Of course, we are a large family. We -- we realize that when there's a large family we have to have a little of everything. We never expected something like this.

SAVIDGE: Do you worry that there could be a backlash against your family?

CASTRO: Well I'm sure people understand that -- that there's a -- what do they call that -- a bad one in every family. But the rest of the family had nothing to do with it.

SAVIDGE: And your feelings now one day afterwards?

CASTRO: My feelings are divided. I'm happy because we found the girls which I was part of the -- the chasing, the looking for them.

SAVIDGE: You looked for these girls?

CASTOR: I always -- I always had my ear and eye open because of their -- especially for the Ruiz's family. Nancy Ruiz the mother of Gina.

SAVIDGE: And you have been in this community I know over 40 years. So this would have been something you were keenly aware of?

CASTRO: Correct.

SAVIDGE: And then to find out that one of your family members was responsible.

CASTRO: That's something ungrateful (ph), very big. And I think it's about the biggest thing that could ever happen to me.

SAVIDGE: Mr. Castro, thank you very much.

CASTRO: But that we are -- we are people of faith and we have hope that saints can get back together for both of the families. And I am sorry about the other girl's mother who passed about four years ago. I understand she passed of broken heart because of the missing of her daughter. I apologize that one of my family had something to do with it.

SAVIDGE: Mr. Castro thank you for taking time to talk to us today.


SAVIDGE: Yes sir. Carol back to you.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Martin, just maybe a last question, I know he has to go. Did Ariel Castro have a job?

CASTRO: The last job that I knew of was driving the bus, the school bus.

SAVIDGE: Right the school bus job with the city of Cleveland which the city has not confirmed it. As you already heard, there is some question about whether he left a child on the bus that goes back to 2004. But after that you don't know of any other jobs?


SAVIDGE: You don't know how he got his income or how he lived?

CASTRO: No. I know when his father passed, left him a lot of money, left the whole family a lot of money which they split it.

SAVIDGE: Thank you, thank you sir. There are a lot of questions -- Carol.

COSTELLO: A lot of questions. And thank you very much, Julio, for talking with us this morning. This is Carol Costello in Atlanta. We appreciate it.

Martin, I wondered if you could show us the house? I don't know if you're close enough. But I wondered are all the windows covered with blinds? Can you see in that house at all?

SAVIDGE: You can actually. If you look, you'll see the house in the background it's the one that's got a porch light on that you can see that from your vantage point. And as you take a look also at that house, you can tell that if you look full on that all the blinds are drawn, I mean closed. So you know the front of the house looks very, very closed.

And in fact neighbors say that's one of the reasons they weren't sure that anybody actually lived in that house because you couldn't see much in the way of life sign at night time. And then on the side you may notice that one of the windows is actually boarded up. So that house certainly does not look like somebody is living in it right now.

COSTELLO: And maybe just another question for Julio. During this news conference police say they are investigating other properties. Does Julio know if Ariel Castro owned any other properties?

SAVIDGE: Did your nephew Ariel own any other properties besides this one?

CASTRO: No, no. Not that I know of.

SAVIDGE: This was the only home you knew that he owned?

SAVIDGE: He says as you heard -- Carol.

COSTELLO: All right. All right, thank you very much Julio Castro and Martin Savidge.

Martin you're going to stick around. Thank you so much. I want to bring in Mary Ellen O'Toole now. She served as one of the most senior profilers for the FBI until her 2009 retirement. She joins us by phone from Milan, Italy. Thank you so much for being with us this morning Mary Ellen and we appreciate this.

MARY ELLEN O'TOOLE, FORMER SENIOR FBI PROFILER (via telephone): You're welcome.

COSTELLO: This is such an odd case. It just defies belief that one man was able to hold three women captive for a decade and nobody really noticed. What kind of man would -- what kind of man would want to do that? Would do that?

O'TOOLE: Well, my sense is what we're looking at based on other cases that I have worked that this is someone who would be defined or characterized as a sexual sadist and a sexual sadist is a -- it's very unusual individual and they're motivated by keeping their victims for days, weeks, months or years. And the actual definition is that they are sexually aroused by the victim's response to the infliction of physical or emotional pain.

And we've had cases like this in the past. We've had cases where the victims have been kept under the bed, in a bunker. Again, it's unusual, but when I'm hearing all the details that are coming out, I would suspect there is a good possibility that this is someone who is very sexually sadistic. It does not mean that he is crazy.

So I want to make sure that people understand that. This is a sexual -- sexual deviancy. And it's a very, very dangerous sexual deviancy.

COSTELLO: Well police are also investigating two of his brothers. Would this sort of person have needed help concealing his crimes for such a long period of time?

O'TOOLE: Well someone that has this disorder would -- would certainly be able to commit these crimes by themselves. Why he would engage his brother, it's certainly going to be interesting, but it could be because I think once you get inside that home, there's going to be a lot of customization inside that home.

By that I mean there're going to be hidden rooms, hidden doorways, those kinds of things and he may have brought his brothers in to help him with that. The real question is, were they involved in his criminal behavior with him? It's less frequent to see two sexual sadists working together -- it does happen. We have cases we saw that but -- but time is going to tell just the degree of involvement the two brothers had with him.

COSTELLO: And then the other question -- there was a six-year-old girl involved, and that six-year-old girl was confirmed by police to be the daughter of Amanda Berry, one of the women held captive. Neighbors told our Martin Savidge that they often saw -- I don't know if often, but they at least saw Ariel Castro a couple of times taking a child outside for a walk. What does that tell you about him?

O'TOOLE: Well this is someone who is -- this is someone who is very self-assured. This is someone who is very arrogant because he feels fine, stress-free carrying out these crimes under the nose of his neighbors. And people like that tend to think they're smarter than their neighbors and he also been doing this for at least nine or ten years and has never been caught.

So he has this sense of being almost untouchable. The real concern and the real question is he may have been seen walking with this little girl and he may, in fact, be the father of that little girl, but someone who is sexually sadistic, if he is, in fact the father, it's also very likely that he is a psychopath. Not a sociopath, he's a psychopath and if that's true they view their children as objects and possessions.

So what you may see at first blush is not what's really going on here in terms of what he could be doing to that little girl inside that home.

COSTELLO: Oh. Mary Ellen O'Toole, thank you so much.

For nearly 20 years Marc Klaas has focused his efforts on protecting children after his 12-year daughter Polly was kidnapped and murdered. He's live in San Francisco for us and we heard during the press conference, Marc that police are working hard to stabilize the victims.

They don't want to ask them too many hard-core questions right now. Can you take us through why?

MARC KLAAS, FATHER OF KIDNAPPED AND MURDERED DAUGHTER: Well, sure. I mean it's wonderful that they're being sensitive to the needs of the victims because historically that's not always been the case. These women, girls, have been through an incredible amount of trauma over the course of the last decade, things that that they probably will not be able to reconcile through the rest of their lives.

There's been an awful lot of trauma. There's been an awful lot of assault. There's no question about that. People don't commit these kinds of crimes unless it's for some sort of sexual gratification. That's what this is about, some kind of a predator.

And I think we have to be really careful that they need to maintain the gruesome details for themselves. That's not our business. That's not your business. That's something that needs to be between these girls, their God and their counselors and perhaps their law enforcement agents because their road to recovery is going to be extremely difficult. And we have to be very careful as to the way they're treated and offer them our support, offer them our love and our prayers.

COSTELLO: Do we have Jeff Gardere on the line? Is Jeff Gardere available? Jeff Gardere is a psychologist and I just want to ask a follow-up question and follow-up to what Marc Klaas said. Police also said that reporters have to be careful of the questions they put to police. Why is that?

JEFF GARDERE, PSYCHOLOGIST: Well, because we don't want to re- traumatize these victims and Marc is absolutely correct. Those gruesome details are between themselves, their God and certainly their therapists. And those therapists are going to work with police officers to be as sensitive as possible to not just debrief them and get them to talk about what happened, but to also process this in a clinical way.

And it is going take years for them to get through this trauma. But the quicker they can get them to debrief and talk about what happened, the better the prognosis will be.

COSTELLO: And Marc I wanted to ask you about one of the mothers. I believe it was Amanda Berry's mother. She died of heart failure. Marc -- I'm sorry Marc Klaas that what I was posting the question to, did I say Marty, I'm sorry Marc. Marc I wanted to post that question to you because you're a parent who lost a child. This mother -- Amanda Berry's mother died of heart failure. Her family said she died of a broken heart. That's just -- that just tears you up.

KLAAS: It's so horrible. Listen, I have been through this. You start out when your child is initially missing, thinking that it will be resolved within just a few hours. That extends to a weekend, a week, a month. And then it just sometimes extends on to eternity and as time goes on, your hope diminishes to the point where finally you've got maybe just a thread of hope and maybe her thread broke.

The fact that she died of a broken heart is just a horrible, horrible thing, and it's too bad that this creep and his brothers can't be charged with that crime because there are so many crimes involved in this. These guys have done so many horrible things that, unfortunately, justice will truly never be served.

COSTELLO: All right. Let's talk to Page Pate about justice. He is a defense attorney. He joins us too. Police said they're going to bring up Ariel Castro on state charges --


COSTELLO: Why not bring him up on federal charges right now.

PATE: It's interesting that the FBI has been investigating this case, and I suspect they will continue to assist the state authority. However, to have a federal kidnapping crime you have to have an interstate nexus. In other words, these guys needed to take them across state lines. And that didn't happen here.

COSTELLO: So might there be federal charges of another kind.

PATE: There could. We need to see what happened inside the house. I think it's very early in the investigation. The more we find out about what went on inside of that house with these girls, unfortunately, the facts that we uncover may lead to additional charges -- maybe sex charges. And the federal government does have authority to step in even in a purely state situation if there's sex offenses.

COSTELLO: You have tried a lot of cases. I don't know. Is it logical to think that Ariel Castro allegedly did all of these things by himself for a decade?

PATE: Carol, I don't think so. I think that's very hard to imagine. We also need to remember that even if the brothers weren't directly involved in committing the offenses, if they didn't touch the girls, if they didn't have any involvement in bringing the girls to the house, they can still be charged. It depends on what they knew and if they did anything at all to assist their brother.

COSTELLO: You sat here and listened to that news conference held by the Cleveland police. They insist they did all they could through the years to find these girls. They said they questioned suspects. They dug up properties. They -- I don't know, they never found anything. They participated in vigils, I think they said that too. In your mind did they do all they could? PATE: Well, probably not all they could have done. I mean, we've seen now after the Boston case that if law enforcement really wants to canvas a community, they can do that. And we found that these girls were so close to where they were taken that if law enforcement really put on 100 percent of their effort and went house to house, it is possible they could have been found earlier, sure.

COSTELLO: Yes, because the house was not far from where these girls were abducted.

PATE: That's right. But there's always that tension, as law enforcement said. I mean how much are we going to invade people's privacy? Do we really go house to house every time there's a missing person? And hindsight is always 20/20.

COSTELLO: Page Pate, thank you so much.

PATE: Thank you, Carol.

COSTELLO: The next hour of CNN NEWSROOM starts now.