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Three Women Missing Nine Plus Years Found Alive; First Hours In Any Kidnapping Critical; Homeowner, Two Brothers Arrested; Family Of Kidnap Survivor Speaks; Mayor: Investigating Why Girls Weren't Found; Battle For South Carolina Congressional Seat
Aired May 7, 2013 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: The next hour of CNN NEWSROOM starts now.
Good morning to you. I'm Carol Costello in Atlanta. Thank you so much for being with me. This morning we're following a remarkable and horrifying story that is still unfolding. Here's what we know. A daring escape leads to the rescue of three women. All three vanished more than nine years ago in separate disappearances. All three were just teenagers.
Gina De Jesus was last seen in 2004 when she was 14 years old. Michelle Knight was 19 when she disappeared in 2002, and Amanda Berry went missing in 2003 on the eve of her 17th birthday. It was Berry who escaped from that home, who called 911, ultimately leading to the rescue of the other women.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEVE ANTHONY, FBI SPECIAL AGENT IN CHARGE: Our prayers have finally been answered. The nightmare is over. These three young ladies have provided us with the ultimate definition of survival and perseverance. The healing can now begin. Every evening year after year as you well know family members and law enforcement kept the faith that one day they might see their daughters, their sisters, and their nieces again.
Monday evening that happened. The FBI Crime Task Force as the chief and mayor mentioned and particularly the men and women of the Cleveland Police Department had pursued every tip and have stood with the families each step of the way. The families of these three young ladies never gave up hope. Neither did law enforcement. As you can imagine, words can't describe the emotions being felt by all. Yes, law enforcement professionals do cry.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COSTELLO: The hero at the center of this drama, Amanda Berry. Here she is at the hospital last night. She's in the middle. She's with her sister, and beside her, her possible motivation.
In a news conference that ended just minutes ago, police did confirm that this little girl, 6 years old, was taken from that house with Amanda Berry is Amanda Berry's daughter. No word on who the father is. Police are still investigating that part of the story. Martin Savidge is in that Cleveland neighborhood where this all went down. Bring us up-to-date.
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Carol. I mean, there was just so much. We talk about the news conference that was held by authorities there, and you had the FBI that's now involved. They were saying that they now have specialists, FBI specialists, that are on scene in that house and that they are doing the evidence gathering.
And they said that is probably -- I think they called it -- that's something that's probably going to go on for several days because there are so many questions. The mayor said it. The FBI said it. Because the mayor, as he points out, they want to know why were these girls targeted in the first place?
How was it that they were taken and then how is it that they weren't discovered for ten years? All credit is given, as you heard from the authorities, to Amanda Berry, because they say had she not broken free then none of them would be free at this moment. Here's the story.
SAVIDGE (voice-over): Michele Knight disappeared when she was 19. That was 2002. Amanda Berry disappeared the day before her 17th birthday. That was 2003. Gina De Jesus disappeared when she was 14. That was 2004. Then, Monday evening, a decade-long nightmare ended when Amanda Berry made an emotional 911 call to police.
AMANDA BERRY: Help me, I'm Amanda Berry.
911 DISPATCHER: Do you need, police, fire or ambulance?
BERRY: I need police.
911 DISPATCHER: OK, and what's going on there?
BERRY: I've been kidnapped, and I've been missing for 10 years, and I'm here. I'm free now.
911 DISPATCHER: OK. What's your address?
BERRY: It's 2207 Seymour Avenue.
911 DISPATCHER: It looks like you are calling me --
BERRY: I can't hear you.
911 DISPATCHER: It looks like you are calling me from 2210 Seymour.
BERRY: I'm across the street using the phone.
911 DISPATCHER: OK, stay there with those neighbors --
911 DISPATCHER: OK. Talk to the police when they get there. BERRY: OK, hello?
911 DISPATCHER: Yes, talk to the police when they get there.
BERRY: OK, are they on their way right now?
911 DISPATCHER: We're going to send them as soon as we get a car open.
BERRY: No, I need them now before he gets back.
911 DISPATCHER: All right we're sending them, OK?
911 DISPATCHER: Who's the guy who went out?
BERRY: His name is Ariel Castro.
911 DISPATCHER: All right, how old is he?
BERRY: He's like 52.
911 DISPATCHER: All right.
BERRY: I'm Amanda Berry. I've been on the news for the last two years.
911 DISPATCHER: OK, I got that here. I already -- what was his name again?
BERRY: Ariel Castro.
911 DISPATCHER: What's he wearing?
BERRY: I don't know because he's not here right now.
911 DISPATCHER: When he left what was he wearing? All right, the police are on their way. Talk to them when they get there. I told you they're on the way. Talk to them when they get there.
SAVIDGE: She made that call after she was able to look out of the house where they were being held, and flag down a neighbor.
CHARLES RAMSEY, NEIGHBOR: I need my McDonald's. I come outside. I see this girl going nuts trying to get out of the house. So I go on the porch, I go on the porch, and she says help me get out. I've been here a long time.
So, you know, I figured it's a domestic violence dispute so I open the door and we can't get in that way, because how the door is, it's so much that a body can't fit through only your hand. So we kick in the bottom and she comes out with little girl and she says call 911. My name is Amanda Berry.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you know who that was when she said that? RAMSEY: When she told me it didn't register until I got the call to 911, I'm calling the 911 for Amanda Berry? I thought this girl was dead. You know what I mean? And she got on the phone and she said yes, this is me. The girl Amanda told the police, I am not just the only one. It's both girls up in that house. So they go on up there, you know, 30, 40 and when they came out, it was just astonishing.
SAVIDGE: Police moved in swarming the house, rescuing the women. They arrested a 52-year-old former school bus driver who lives there, Ariel Castro. They also arrested his two brothers.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They made some statements to the responding officers that gave us enough probable cause to affect their arrest.
SAVIDGE: The rescued women were taken to a nearby hospital and checked out. A photo of a beaming Amanda Berry and her sister appeared on Facebook.
DR. GERALD MALONEY, METRO HEALTH DEPARTMENT MEDICAL CENTER: Currently, they're safe. We're in the process of evaluating their medical needs. They appear to be in fair condition at the moment. This is really good, because this isn't the ending we usually get to these stories so we're very happy.
SAVIDGE: That sense of happiness and relief shared by police.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a great -- it's a great day.
SAVIDGE: And the people of Cleveland.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's an unbelievable day.
COSTELLO: All right, we're going to get back to Martin Savidge. He is interviewing more neighbors in that Cleveland neighborhood where these three women were found. We'll get to Martin in just a minute.
Just in to CNN, though, a statement from Jaycee Dugard. You remember her. She was the girl abducted when she was 11 and held for so many years captive and finally released when she was an adult. This is the statement she just released moments ago.
Quote, "These individuals need the opportunity to heal and connect back into the world. This isn't who they are. It's only what happened to them. The human spirit is incredibly resilient. More than ever they reaffirms we should never give up hope."
One of the big questions right now centers on the man arrested in the case. His name is Ariel Castro. Police also arrested his two brothers, but say the 52-year-old, Ariel, owns the house where these women were found. According to the Cleveland dealer Castro was arrested at a nearby McDonald's.
Castro and his brothers have not yet been charged are, but we do know Castro is a former school bus driver. A spokeswoman for the school district does not know how long Castro worked there or whether he left voluntarily or whether he was fired.
Castro's Facebook page shows his love of guitars. His last post was dated May 2nd, just a few days ago, where he wrote, quote, "miracles really do happen. God is good." A frantic call to 911 for help came from, as you know by now, Amanda Berry. She escaped the house with the help of a neighbor and called police.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BERRY: Help me. I'm Amanda Berry. I've been kidnapped and I've been missing for ten years, and I'm here. I'm free now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COSTELLO: Marc Klaas has dedicated his life to protecting children after his own 12-year-old daughter, Polly, was kidnapped in 1993 and murdered. He joins me now, and I see you shaking your head as you listen to that 911 call.
MARC KLAAS, FOUNDER, KLAASKIDS FOUNDATION: Well, you know, the sun is going to shine a little brighter on the United States of America today because of Amanda's actions during that phone call. You can hear the emotion in her voice. This is 10 years. This is a decade of pent-up fear and frustration that's being released all in one moment.
It's absolutely extraordinary, but Carol, I would like to -- in defense of law enforcement, I just like to say that this kind of a crime is one of the most difficult crimes there is to solve, particularly when the offender has no kind of a police record.
This guy seems to have descended out of hell on three separate occasions and snatched these girls and somehow found a way to restrain them for the last decade. I think until we hear more information we have to be cognizant of that fact and not be too critical of the way that law enforcement handled this in the past, is handling it now, and will certainly continue to handle this case in the future.
COSTELLO: You're right about that. During that news conference, the police assured the community that there were no police calls to that house since 2006. No trouble at all and the only trouble that this Ariel Castro had is when he was a school bus driver for the public schools. Apparently in 2004, he left a kid alone on the bus. They investigated and they filed had no charges against him, and that was about it.
KLAAS: How creepy is it that this -- I was going to say how creepy is it that this character has got a job where he is surrounded by children on a daily basis. It's just makes your skin crawl. Everything about this guy makes your skin crawl.
COSTELLO: You're not kidding. As far as police know right now, while he was a bus driver, they don't know if he came to know the women that way or not. They're still investigating that part of the story.
I also wanted to ask you, Marc, about the 911 calls because neighbors in Cleveland are really upset about how the 911 dispatcher handled the call. I'm just going to read you the end of it. You heard the panic in Amanda Berry's voice, right?
So this is the dispatcher, and I'm just going to read the transcript from the end of the call. Dispatcher, when he left, the suspect, what was he wearing? Amanda is, like who knows? Dispatcher, the police are on their way. Talk to them when they get there.
Amanda says, what? OK. The dispatcher then says I told you they're on their way. Talk to them when they get there, OK? And then it was all right, OK, bye, and the dispatcher hung up. A lot of people are upset about that. They say that the dispatcher should have stayed on the phone with Amanda Berry.
KLAAS: I agree. I think that the dispatcher should have stayed on the phone, but, again, in their defense, 911 call centers receive thousands of calls on a regular basis. I mean, we've seen cases where they're over extended and sometimes the call centers go down.
Oftentimes when people call 911, they're in a very emotionally distraught frame of mind, so I'm sure that as part of the training for the dispatcher to disassociate emotionally from the call.
That having been said, given the high nature of this case who this girl was, where this occurred, I think it would have been to their advantage to stay -- their advantage to stay --
COSTELLO: We've got to get to this press conference. It's Gina DeJesus' families, one of the women kidnapped. Let's listen.
(BEGIN LIVE FEED)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- simply because I also have another family member who just got out of the hospital yesterday from an aneurism, and I don't want her to go back. This is two miracles in two weeks. I am begging, begging everyone just to support our family by not crowding us. Give us air to breathe, and we promise we will give you at the right time all the information that you guys can have.
REPORTER: How is she doing?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I will tell you this because I was there to see her. All three girls -- God works in mysterious ways. You would never -- I mean, it's just unbelievable, unbelievable. These girls -- these women are so strong, stronger than I am. I will tell you that much. They all have a positive attitude.
This is what we need from everyone. We need to still be a family, neighborhood with neighborhood. We need to watch out for all kids, really, watch who your neighbor is because you never know. OK?
It's like, I'll tell you, when I came from Puerto Rico everybody said I'm telling your mom, I seen you, I seen you. This is how we have to be again. We have to take care of everybody's children, and God has blessed us by bringing all three of those girls, all of them back.
REPORTER: How did you feel when you found out? UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm going to be honest. I just -- God has been giving me signs two weeks in a row. One for my sister to get home, to leave work, go home, 5 minutes to get to her for her to make it for her to survive, and yesterday I said I was leaving work at 5:00, and they said go ahead.
And not even as I got into my driveway people were telling me go down there, go down there, and I did, and I kind of knew right then and there when I passed the yellow caution tape and they're telling me stay away because they know who the family is. It was -- I'm telling you, God works in mysterious ways.
He is looking out for us. It was my mom's 10th year anniversary of her passing away. Everything is in circle. If you don't believe in miracles, I suggest you think again because it does happen.
(END LIVE FEED)
COSTELLO: Just so you know what's going on, this is a news conference. This is Gina DeJesus's aunt, and she's holding a press conference in Cleveland saying her family is fine, but she wants the media to just give her family some peace -- back in English. Let's go back.
(END LIVE FEED)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She kept -- we had the strength. That's, you know -- I give her -- I don't know how she did it. If it was my daughter, I don't know. She's my niece, and I -- I survive day by day with God.
(END LIVE FEED)
COSTELLO: All right, as I was saying, this is Gina DeJesus's aunt. She's speaking to reporters right now to say the family is doing fine and of course, she is thanking God that Gina was found alive, but, of course, Gina is going through a lot right now.
Gina was abducted when she was just 14 years old in 2004. She was walking home from school. At the time, Gina's mother was absolutely convinced that she was abducted for human trafficking. That's what she said all those years ago.
All those years, at least police believe at this point, she was kidnapped by a man named Ariel Castro and held captive by him all these years until Amanda Berry, another woman allegedly kidnapped by the same man, escaped from the house, called 911, and she was the reason all of these women were freed. Let's go back to the press conference right now.
(BEGIN LIVE FEED) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Those girls, those women are so strong. What we do out here, what we have done in 10 years is nothing compared to what those women have done. Together they survived. That's it. I need to go take care of my sister, Sandra Ruiz. Thank you very much.
(END LIVE FEED)
COSTELLO: All right, you can see she is going to go back to Gina's mother because, of course, Gina's mother needs her a lot more than we all do. You heard her say that the women banded together in that house and helped one another survive.
I want to bring in psychologist Jeff Gardere and talk about this because I'm sure no one can imagine going through something like this except maybe for Jaycee Dugard. It's just awful, but Jaycee Dugard was alone until she had her child.
JEFF GARDERE, PSYCHOLOGIST: Yes, yes. Well, it is incredible that they did survive, but that talks to the human spirit that we do have the coping mechanisms that get us through these traumas whether with some sort of disassociation or some sort of repression or suppression as to what was going on.
Perhaps in their own way cooperating so that they wouldn't be killed, they were able to do it, and that's what investigators, therapists will be talking to them about, and then help them evolve those coping mechanisms to be able to integrate that into the outside world.
Because for what we know right now perhaps these women had not seen the light of day, being able to walk outside even if they were being suppressed by that individual for over 10 years.
COSTELLO: It's just unbelievable. We also heard Sandra Ruiz is her name. She's Gina DeJesus's aunt. She also said she can't believe the incredible strength that these women are showing.
GARDERE: Absolutely. These women had resiliency. They were strong. They were able to make it through. At the same time, because they were so focused on their survival and whatever horrific scenes were going on and, Carol, I can tell you, for them to -- for no one to know that they were there, it was not just physical or possible sexual abuse. We're also talking about mind control.
We're also talking about possibly torture here. These women now have to be able to transition out of that survival mode and now be able to increase or develop their social skills to be able to be back into the world, the reality of this outside world. What was going on in that home was certainly far, far from reality. That was a world that was horrific.
COSTELLO: Well, stay right there. I had many more questions, but I want to take it back to Cleveland go to Poppy Harlow now. She was at that press conference. Does the DeJesus family live far from where this suspect lives? I was just curious -- Poppy.
POPPY HARLOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): Hi, Carol. You know, that's something that we don't know at this time exactly in terms of location and don't want to speculate on. I did ask the brother Ricardo DeJesus who is the older brother of Gina, and he didn't want to comment.
I'm actually about to do an interview with him on camera, but before we do that I wanted to tell our viewers, I mean, everyone just heard that press conference with Sandra, the aunt of Gina, Gina's mother sister. She said believe in miracles. We always believed -- believed in miracles and also said know your neighbors. Watch out for your neighbors. That really stood with me.
Ricardo, the 33-year-old brother of Gina, said to me he saw his sister last night after coming home seeing the news on the television, on the news, went to the hospital, saw Gina, and said she was both surprised and happy, of course, elated at the same time, but also sort of shocked that this had all happened, that they had been rescued.
He said he kept hugging her, hugging her, talking to her while and he his family were at the hospital over 200 people came to the family home where I am right now to support them. He said I thought it was still a dream because it had been so long.
Now I asked the brother, Carol, if he knows Ariel Castro. He said yes. He knew him when they were younger, but had not seen him over the past 10 years since his sister was abducted. I asked how his parents are doing. How are the parents of Gina DeJesus doing?
He said that Nancy and Felix, their names, he said that they were crying. They were hugging, of course, their daughter. They were happy. I asked him, you know, you're her older brother. Do you feel even more protective of her now?
He said I'm not letting anything happen to her again. So we're about to talk to him for an on camera interview. I'm going to go do that. I just wanted to tell you --
COSTELLO: Before you go, Poppy -- before you go, Poppy, did you say that the DeJesus family knew Ariel Castro?
HARLOW: I can tell you that the brother tells me that the man who says he is her brother, the 33-year-old Ricardo DeJesus told me that when he was younger he knew Ariel Castro. He wouldn't go into specifics and he did say he had not seen Castro in the last 10 years -- Carol.
COSTELLO: Are they Puerto Rican because there is a Puerto Rican community in Cleveland, and I just wondered if that was the connection.
HARLOW: This is a Puerto Rican community here in Cleveland. I can't speak exactly for the families if they're Puerto Rican or not. I don't want to make any assumptions. They did say, yes, that is Puerto Rican community.
COSTELLO: All right, Poppy, I'll let you go you so can interview the brother. Thank you very much, Poppy. Do we still have Jeff nearby? GARDERE: Yes.
COSTELLO: Wow. So supposedly according to the brother of Gina DeJesus when he was a child, he is 33 years old right now, he knew this Ariel Castro. I don't know what conclusions we can draw, but it's just eerie.
GARDERE: It truly is. I don't want to in any way because hindsight is 20-20. I don't want to criticize law enforcement here, but I think questions are going to start to come up because one of the things you do in an investigation -- as you know I have worked as a forensic psychologist for many years.
You have to look at the sphere of influence. You have to be able to go in and interview everyone who may have known this family. So we don't know whether that happened or whether that was done in a thorough enough way, and as we saw with the Boston marathon bombing, cops went door to door, house to house.
I think even the families involve may start to question, but why wasn't there this sort of sweep outwards from where this neighborhood, this very close knit neighborhood was? Why didn't they go door to door?
Again, I don't want to criticize law enforcement, but people will begin to ask those questions, and I hope that we're learning from this situation as with others that there are things that we can do where every stone should not be left unturned.
COSTELLO: I'm sure it won't. Let's go back to that Cleveland neighborhood and check in with Martin Savidge. Because Martin, you've been kind of looking at this from the investigative angle. Did the police at the time of these women's disappearance go door to door? Do we know? In the press conference, they said they did all they could.
SAVIDGE: Right. Yes. Just to reiterate, back when first you had, you know, the two young women disappear and they were separated by almost exactly one year in their disappearance. You had Amanda and then after Amanda, let me just refer to the notes here. You had Gina DeJesus.
Both of those became very famous cases here in the city of Cleveland. There are people here today who are here now because they say, look, I was out on the streets. I was knocking on the door. I was canvassing neighborhoods. There were a lot of people besides just law enforcement that were looking out for these young girls.
It was a huge story at that time. Continue they had candlelight vigils. They would mark the anniversary date. It's not like there wasn't a large community effort. Where was the focus then? Was it focused in the right area? You know, that remains to be seen.
They were taken actually from an area that is about 110th Street. We're at 25th. So, you know, you're talking 75 blocks away or more. So it's not like they were immediately here, but you're right to ask these questions. Were family member connections considered? Were there links?
This goes back to what the mayor was asking at the news conference. He said we want to know why were these girls taken? Why were they targeted? Was there some sort of connection that made them stand out above anybody else? Then, of course, the other thing they want to know is, were there any other victims and are there any other suspects involved? Where does this go? It's the beginning. It is not the end of anything -- Carol.
COSTELLO: And of course, police are investigating Ariel Castro's two brothers. They are investigating whether any other properties were involved because for some it's difficult to believe that these three women could be held captive in one house for more than a decade.
SAVIDGE: Correct. I mean, there are a lot of people who insinuate that there were times that these young ladies might have been seen in the yard. That they may have been seen in a window that somehow neighbors or those in the neighborhood felt that they had recognized that they didn't belong or they were somehow out of place.
Now, they claim that they notified authorities. If you listen to the news conference that was held, the safety director says they came to this address on two instances, one in 2000 before all of this began and the other in 2004, and the reason they came was to investigate Ariel Castro because of a child supposedly left behind on the school bus. Not because of a report they received of anybody being held against their will in the home. All of this stuff will have to be ironed out.
COSTELLO: So many questions. I'll let you get back to it. Martin Savidge reporting live from Cleveland this morning.
A lot of news this morning to talk about. There's a big congressional election in South Carolina. As you know, Mark Sanford against Stephen Colbert's sister.
Let's go to Jim Acosta. He is standing by with the former governor right now. Take it away, Jim.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Carol. That's right. I can tell you just a few moments ago the former governor of South Carolina, now congressional candidate Mark Sanford did vote at a polling location here in Charleston, and we're joined by the former governor now. Thanks for joining us. Appreciate it.
MARK SANFORD, SOUTH CAROLINA CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: Pleasure.
ACOSTA: Let me just ask you. We had a chance to catch up with you a few moments ago, and you were telling us how you feel about things today. You said you're optimistic, but you're not making any predictions. How do you feel?
SANFORD: I still stand by that. You know, you get to the end of a campaign, and you are sort of worn out in the physical sense, but, you know, the finish line is here, and you're guardedly optimist being on what the voters decide come tonight. ACOSTA: It's not just the voters here in South Carolina. People across the country have followed everything that you've been through over the last few years and it's been interesting to note during this campaign, you haven't shied away from the questions.
You know, we've come up to you and you have answered just about every question we've had to ask you. In particular about your permanent life and your past, why have you decided engage and take those questions on during this campaign?
SANFORD: Well, one, you talk about the position of public trust, and I had a failing that was well chronicled, and I think it's been important to discuss it. We discussed it at length during the first congressional entry. But you know, I think it falls into this larger, I guess, journey we're all on, which is that none of us are perfect.
All of us have feet of clay, and, you know, this notion of redemption, of second chances is part and partial to the American way, and we'll find out whether it's part and parcel to the election tonight.
ACOSTA: Do you think voters here in this district have forgiven you?
SANFORD: I do believe so. Yes, sir. I would say that forgiveness is at an individual level, and some people forgive me the next day. Some people will probably never forgive me, and you know, the continuum is where folks fall out.
I think this larger journey of second chances, of getting back up and trying as best you can to swing the bat in an area that you care about, whether that's in the world of journalism or world of politics, or world of business, I think is important to every one of our lives.
ACOSTA: As you know the National Republican Party sort of pulled out of this race and really didn't give you much support. How did you do it without them?
SANFORD: Well, a lot of friends talking to friends. I mean, the down side we hit a million or million plus dump on our head with some fairly strong negative ads based on, you know, with Nancy Pelosi associate the interest pouring into this campaign, but the good news was a lot of folks were out there talking to friends and neighbors.