Return to Transcripts main page


Ariel Castro's Bandmate; Reconnecting After Years; Bizarre Incidents At Suspect's Home

Aired May 7, 2013 - 14:00   ET


BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin, live in Cleveland, Ohio, where right now families are reuniting and three brothers are answering questions this afternoon as they sit behind bars. Investigators say this home, just behind me, I don't know if you can see it, it's got this one little porch light on, and you can get close enough to where you can see the front door kicked in. This is - this was basically a prison for these three women who all appeared and disappeared more than nine years ago.

Today, police tell us they never received any tips about this place, even though officers paid a visit inside this home years ago. And now we are getting our very first look at the men who are being held at this hour here in Cleveland. Take a look at this. These are the pictures from the city of Cleveland. You have Ariel Castro, the homeowner, and his two brothers, Pedro Castro and Onil Castro. Each man at least 50 years of age.

But the headline of this moment is just the sheer joy of loved ones, thought to be dead, now back where they belong, home. Want to show you now a family reunion unlike any other we have seen. This is Amanda Berry in the center. The young girl in the bed is believed to be her young daughter. And on the other side of Berry, her sister Beth, who has not only seen Berry, it's been more than nine years. That's because Berry is one of these three women, allegedly imprisoned in this home here in Cleveland on Seymour Avenue, about 15 miles from downtown and it's just three to four miles from where all of the women initially went missing so many years ago.

Berry was just about to turn 17 when she up and disappeared. That was back in 2003. Also, Gina DeJesus was 14 when she vanished in 2004. And Michele Knight was 20 when a loved one reported her missing in 2002.

And then, yesterday, Berry made the move that turned her into the ultimate freedom fighter, breaking through the screen door. I told you, again, the home with the porch light, you can see the bottom half bashed in. The man who helped get her out of there actually talked to one of the reporters here in Cleveland, basically gave this play by play of this amazing escape. Listen.


CHARLES RAMSEY, NEIGHBOR WHO HELPED WOMAN BREAK FREE: I heard screaming. I'm eating my McDonald's. I come outside. I see this girl going nuts trying to get out of her house. So I go on the porch -- I go on the porch and she says, help me get out. I've been in here a long time. So, you know, I figured it was a domestic violence dispute. So I opened 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 kicked the bottom and she comes out with a little girl and she says, call 911. My name is Amanda Berry.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And 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 and I'm like, I'm calling the 911 for Amanda Berry. I thought this girl was dead.


BALDWIN: After Amanda Berry broke free from that home, out that front door, she went then to a neighboring home here in Cleveland, and then called 911.


911 OPERATOR (voice-over): Cleveland 911. Do you need -

AMANDA BERRY (voice-over): Hello, police. Help me. I'm Amanda Berry.

911 OPERATOR: Do you need police, fire or ambulance?

BERRY: I need police.

911 OPERATOR: OK, and what's going on there?

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

911 OPERATOR: OK, and what's your address?

BERRY: Ahh, 2207 Seymour Avenue.

911 OPERATOR: 2207 Seymour. It looks like you're calling me from 2210.


911 OPERATOR: Looks like you're calling me from 2210.

BERRY: I can't hear you.

911 OPERATOR: It looks like you're calling me from 2210 Seymour.

BERRY: No, I'm across the street. I'm using this phone.

911 OPERATOR: OK, stay there with those neighbors and talk to the police when they get there.


911 OPERATOR: OK, talk to the police when they get there.

BERRY: OK. Hello? 911 OPERATOR: Yes, talk to the police when they get there.

BERRY: OK, are they on their way right now? I need them now.

911 OPERATOR: 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 OPERATOR: All right, we're sending them, OK?

BERRY: OK, I mean like right now.

911 OPERATOR: Who's the guy? Who's the guy you're trying - who's the guy who went out?

BERRY: Ahh, his name is Ariel Castro.

911 OPERATOR: All right, how old is he?

BERRY: Ah, he's like 52.

911 OPERATOR: All right, and ahh -

BERRY: And I'm Amanda Berry. I've been on the news for the last 10 years.

911 OPERATOR: OK, I got - I got that here. I already - and you said -- what was his name again?

BERRY: Ahh, Ariel Castro.

911 OPERATOR: And is he white, black or Hispanic?

BERRY: He's Hispanic.

911 OPERATOR: And what's he wearing?

BERRY: I don't know because he's not here right now. That's how I got away.

911 OPERATOR: But when he left -- when he left, what was he wearing?


911 OPERATOR: The police are on the way. Talk to them when they get there.



BERRY: I need - OK, I need -

911 OPERATOR: I told you they're on the way. Talk to them when they get there, OK?

BERRY: All right, OK.

911 OPERATOR: Thank you.



BALDWIN: Just listen to that. It's just absolutely mind boggling. You can hear the absolute fear in Berry's voice. Fear specifically toward a man she named Ariel Castro. The 52-year-old is now under arrest, as we mentioned, along with his brothers Pedro and Onil.

Now, as for charges, charges have not yet been filed, but a neighbor who saw the women say their condition literally brought her to tears. Anderson Cooper talked to the woman's niece and asked her what the victims looked like just last night.


ANGELA GARCIA, NICE OF NEIGHBOR WHO HELPED VICTIMS (voice-over): Really bad. She is even crying because she say they look so bad, you know, like they were - I don't know, suffering, they were desperate, crying, running, they were crazy, they were, you know, I don't have no words.


BALDWIN: And I want to revisit the interview with Charles Ramsey again. He was the man who helped Amanda Berry break open that front door. He was walking along here on Seymour Avenue, eating his McDonald's, heard the screams. Again, the suspect here, Ariel Castro, in fact, Ramsey was friends with him.


RAMSEY: We see this dude every day. I mean, every day.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How long have you lived here?

RAMSEY: I've been here a year.


RAMSEY: You (INAUDIBLE). I barbecue with this dude. We eat ribs and what not and listen to salsa music. You see where I'm coming from?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. And you had no indication that there was anything --

RAMSEY: Not a (INAUDIBLE). Not a clue.


BALDWIN: And we know that shock is also what my next guest is experiencing here today. He is Tito DeJesus. He actually played in a band with Ariel Castro, has pictures of the suspect up on his FaceBook account. And Tito joins me not too far away from where I am here in Cleveland.

And, Tito, first, when I first heard your name, I heard Tito DeJesus, I thought immediately of Gina DeJesus, one of these three rescued women here on Seymour Avenue. Just to be crystal clear, any relation?

TITO DEJESUS, BANDMATE OF KIDNAPPING SUSPECT: That I know of, no. But I've never checked the family tree. But I've known the family since I can remember.

BALDWIN: And just before I get to your connection with Ariel Castro, how is the family doing?

DEJESUS: Excuse me?

BALDWIN: Just before I get to your connection with Ariel Castro, have you been in touch with the DeJesus family? I know this is a close knit community here in Cleveland. How are they today?

DEJESUS: Well, I've been in touch with one of the cousins. They called me today, telling me how they appreciated my support. And on FaceBook I've been in touch with one of the other cousins and they're just happy that all three girls are OK. And, you know, they're just happy that God protected them throughout these 10 years.

BALDWIN: Tito, let's talk about the guy who apparently owned this home here on Seymour Avenue. A man you played music with. The man you knew for two decades. Ariel Castro. What was he like?

DEJESUS: He was -- I've known him through music. Your average musician. You know, high spirits. Always joking around, smiling, laughing. Great talent musically. And it was a shock to me to find out that this happened and it was hard to believe because I would have never thought in a million years that it was him that was allegedly holding Gina, Amanda and Michele.

BALDWIN: Hard to believe, I bet also because these women, it sounds like, might have been under your nose. You have been to this home here on Seymour Avenue. When was the most recent time you were here?

DEJESUS: I was there about two years ago. When I was moving from my house to an apartment, I sold Ariel a washer and a dryer and a bunch of stuff out of my garage and he asked me for help to take this stuff to his house, and which I did. You know, and we unloaded the stuff and I went inside just for a few minutes to the living room and then, you know, then I left.

BALDWIN: Tito, tell me, in those few minutes when you were inside this home where we now know these three women and at least one young daughter lived, what did you see?

DEJESUS: I saw a normal environment. They didn't seem to be like, you know, a place where women were being held against their will. Of course, mind you, I didn't go throughout the entire house. I was just, like, just the beginning of the house, the living room. But it seemed normal. You know, nothing out of place. Just like a normal house. BALDWIN: Can you be more specific? I mean we, the media here, we can't get anywhere near this home. I can tell just - I can see the front of it and the front door knocked out. But you've been inside. Describe just the layout of this home for me.

DEJESUS: What I can remember, you know, you have your -- when you walk in, you have your steps going upstairs and you have like a living room and then a small dining room, if I'm not mistaken, and then he usually had his instruments laying around, almost like furniture at times. That's how some of - musicians are. Instead of having furniture, we have our instruments. And pretty much that's what he had. He was very honored to have a bunch of basses - the guitar basses laying around. He would show them off. And pretty much it looked like a musician's house. That's what it looked like.

BALDWIN: And in those few minutes, did you ever hear any other voices? Anything else?

DEJESUS: Absolutely not. I've always known him to be a person who's been alone. I never pried into his personal life. I didn't know if he was married or not, but I know he had children. And recently through FaceBook he posted that he had grandchildren. Actually a new grandchild. A fifth one. And when I went to his house two years ago, again, you know, it was quiet. It was like it was empty. Nobody was in there. It was just like it was only him living in there.

BALDWIN: Tito, was it neat? Was it clean? Did you see photos?

DEJESUS: That I can remember, at this point. I wasn't really paying attention to see if there was any photos. But he was a neat person. I'm not saying he was super clean or anything, but I said he was neat. You know, as neat as a single guy can be these days, a musician. It was -- there was nothing out of place, you know. It was pretty much just a simple home. Just pretty much instruments around, laying around. That's what it was.

BALDWIN: And so I hear you talk about instruments and the neatness. We heard from police this morning that these girls might have been tied up. Did you see any evidence of that? Anything suspicious?

DEJESUS: No. Not at all. Not at all. I mean nothing that caught my eye. Again, I wasn't there for a long period of time and I was there - I wasn't, you know, even thinking that he was the type of person that would do something like that. So, you know, there was nothing there that caught my eye like that. So, no, I can't say I saw anything like that.

BALDWIN: What about his work history? What more can you tell us about him, other than a guy who played in some bands? What more did he do?

DEJESUS: Well, I've known him to be a school bus driver. And that's the only job that I know that he had. There were many times where he would call me if he had to do a gig with me. He knew I usually had the charts or a CD that he need to listen to learn the music. He said, I need the charts. I'd say, well, stop by the house and I'll give it to you. And to my surprise, I'd walk out and many times he would show up in the school bus, empty school bus, in front of my house. I was shocked. I'm like, OK. You know, that's something you don't see every day. But pretty much it was just music and being a school bus driver. That's all I know about him.

BALDWIN: So as a school bus driver, obviously around a lot of young people all the time. Did he ever talk about children?

DEJESUS: No. The only time he spoke about children was when his daughter needed to move and he needed to help his daughter. He couldn't make a gig that we had because he had to move his daughter. I guess she was moving from one place to another. And basically that was it. We never got into each other's personal lives. That's one thing we never do.

BALDWIN: Why was that? Did he appear very guarded?

DEJESUS: Pardon?

BALDWIN: Did he appear very guarded, if he wasn't very forthcoming when it came to his personal life? Why was that, do you think?

DEJESUS: I really don't know. It's like we never had the chance to talk about personal life. Because every time we had - we were together, either performing or rehearsing, it was just talking about music and it was like it never came up to talk about our personal lives. I mean he asked me, hey, how are your kids. You know, like, you know, like a regular question. Everything OK? No -- you know, your typical question. But to get into a deep conversation about our personal lives, that really never happened.

BALDWIN: Tito, really just my last question, knowing now and again no formal charges have been filed against Ariel Castro or even his brothers, we just know that they're in custody. Just have you been able to wrap your head around this, the fact that you were in this home where these women were apparently living? How does that make you feel?

DEJESUS: It's -- it makes me feel shocked. Again, like I said, you know, I'm just going by what the news are saying, the news media. I mean, like I said, it's up to police to do the investigation and find all the evidence against him. You know, if he's guilty, you know, the evidence is going to point to him. If he's not guilty, the evidence will point to somebody else. But the way it's looking like, again, you know, I'm not the judge here, I can't judge him, I just know who he is and who he was to me, a fellow musician, and this is a shocker because you would never think this is the kind of person that could do something like this.

BALDWIN: Sounds like a shocker to a lot of people here in Cleveland. They've been looking for these women for a decade.

Tito DeJesus, thank you so much for joining me here in Cleveland. I appreciate it.

DEJESUS: Absolutely. BALDWIN: Coming up next, new sound just in to me. This is from a neighbor who says she has seen some bizarre and chilling behavior here along Seymour Avenue, at the suspect's home. Again, the home there with that one porch light on. Here's what she told us.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, me and my friends and my sister were across the street at a house, like, spending the night and we seen a naked lady in the backyard.



BALDWIN: Again, I'm Brooke Baldwin, live here in Cleveland, standing on Seymour Avenue, which is now sort of become the center of such media attention and quite a frenzy, quite a fantastic frenzy, if I may, for people here in Cleveland who have been reporting for years and years, basically a decade, on these three missing persons, these three young women who are now in their 20s and one is 30, and they are now alive. They were found thanks to one of them screaming, sticking her arm out of that door. You see the white house with the one porch light on.

And then, if you can see, part of the bottom part of that door has been kicked in because she got a little help getting out and she was able to bring the other women with her and also a small child. So that's why we're here in Cleveland.

Poppy Harlow's working this story with me. She has been speaking with some of the family members who have been talking to her about how they feel now, spending time with the freed women.

So, Poppy, I can't imagine. It must be just - it must be just so overwhelming with emotions, seeing these people. I know you talked to the family of Gina DeJesus. How are they? What are they telling you?

POPPY HARLOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Hi, Brooke. We did. We had a chance to speak with the brother of Gina DeJesus. She, of course, is 23 years old now. Her older brother, Ricardo, is 33. We talked to him here at the house behind me. This is the family home where Gina lived before she was abducted. It's where her brother still lives and where he lived with her and her parents. And he told me he found out that they had found his sister last night from watching the news. He was in his living room watching the news. He saw it. He called his father, who, of course, is Gina's father, down to see it. And I said, what was that like? He said it - you know, it was unbelievable. We were so excited. We were so happy. And, of course, after that, they went to the hospital with other family members to see her for the first time in nine years.

I want you to listen to a little bit of what Ricardo, Gina's brother, told me.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) RICARDO DEJESUS, BROTHER OF MISSING WOMAN FOUND ALIVE: (INAUDIBLE) like a best friend. Able to talk to her, be there for her and everything else.

HARLOW: What was she like? What did she like to do most?

DEJESUS: She liked to dance a lot, crack jokes, and be around with the family.

HARLOW: You saw Gina last night at the hospital.


HARLOW: What was that like for you? Tell me about that.

DEJESUS: I was very excited. I was like, I'm glad, you know, I'm able to see her. It was nine years. Nine long years. And I'm just happy I was able to sit there and hug her and say, yep, you're finally home.


HARLOW: She liked to dance. She liked to be with her family. He was describing what it was like to be with his sister, who was a teenager, Brooke, when he last saw her. And as he told me now, she is a young - a young woman.

I asked, did she talk to you at all about her ordeal over the last nine years? What was that like? He said, we did not get into that at all at the hospital. It was just hugs and emotion and being with one another. I think they're trying to give her space just to settle back in before they get into any of those details.

I did ask him, Brooke, if he knows Ariel Castro, because there are a lot of questions about if these families knew one another or not. He told me he did know Ariel Castro from a long time ago when they were younger, but over the past 10 years or so, he has not seen him.


BALDWIN: It is interesting, though, Poppy, now being here in Cleveland, and, you know, you're talking to people, we're talking to people. It's very much so an intermingling kind of community where a lot of folks knew -


BALDWIN: At least not just maybe the girls, but the parents, right, and even Ariel Castro, who apparently lived in this home behind me.

Thank you so much, Poppy.

And as we learn more about these young women who are now free, how nice is it to see their photos with the word, you know, "found," "revealed." We are now also hearing a little bit more about, you know, the tone in this particular neighborhood in Cleveland, more about Ariel Castro and some of the oddities that are also maybe happening through the years from some of the neighbors. I want to bring in Tory Dunnan, who's been reporting here in Cleveland.

And so you've been here and you're talking to - you talked to -- who did you talk to? A neighbor --

TORY DUNNAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I talked to a neighbor. She lives about three houses over. She's 20 years old. And she said, you know, ultimately at first she thought that he was a pretty nice guy. She used to ride on his ATV. She knew him. She would go over and talk to him. And then things changed about two years ago when something strange happened. Take a listen to this.


NINA SAMOYLICZ, CASTRO'S NEIGHBOR: Well, me and my friends and my sister were across the street at a house, like, spending the night and we seen a naked lady in the backyard. And we, like, didn't know nothing about it. So we said -- we said something to her. He told her to get down. And we said something to him. He told both -- he told her to get in the house and he ran behind the cars and got in the house.

DUNNAN: So what was she doing? She was --

SAMOYLICZ: She was just walking around.

DUNNAN: And naked?

SAMOYLICZ: Yes. And we thought that was weird.

DUNNAN: Yes, I mean, what sort of came to your mind?

SAMOYLICZ: We thought it was funny at first, and then we, like, we thought that was weird, so we called the cops.

DUNNAN: And then what happened?

SAMOYLICZ: They thought we were playing and joking. They didn't believe us. When we seen the lady, like, the backyard was open. And then like after that, like a week or two after, he put tarps up. He - he like totally secluded himself.

DUNNAN: And you saw the tarps from where?

SAMOYLICZ: I could see them from my bedroom window. If we would like stand up on the log or something, we could --

DUNNAN: You could actually see it?

SAMOYLICZ: Yes, but I think the police might have took them down. I don't know. He would open the window for maybe like an hour or two and she would just sit there and look out the window. And then he would come back, close the window and then we don't know what happened to her the rest of the day. And then, like, he just had the windows boarded up, everything was closed down. One time he led us up to the front door to go get popsicles or candy or something like that. Like he didn't let us in the house ever.


DUNNAN: So, obviously, you heard in there she said she'd go over to his house, but he would say, stop at the front entrance, couldn't go in. In that case, she said, he went in and got them popsicles. So there's sort of this uneasiness here in the neighborhood about what happened, obviously.

BALDWIN: You know, just hearing from some of these neighbors, they said it was odd that he never really seemed to be using the front door, right? So he would go around the back, whether in was in this red pickup or his motorcycle and he'd shut that gate and go in the back door. So it just - it's sort of infuriating though because we've covered stories like this before where, you know, in this case, thank goodness, these three women were found. But then, you know, neighbors come out of the woodwork saying, you know, that was odd that he would do this, that I saw this naked woman in a backyard and there were tarps that suddenly appeared.

DUNNAN: Another interesting thing they said, one of the neighbors nearby said that he would drive his school bus, park it once a day in front of the house, and then walk in with a bag of McDonald's and then leave every single day. So they're wondering, obviously, what that meant at this point.

BALDWIN: Great reporting. We'll check back in with you, Tory, thank you very much.

Coming up next, though, as we talk about these other missing cases, there is new hope now for other cases, for other parents who want their kids returned to them. A mother who lost her own daughter to a kidnapper joins me live. Stay right here for special CNN coverage. We're live today in Cleveland, Ohio.


BALDWIN: Welcome back to the bottom of the hour. You're watching CNN live. I'm Brooke Baldwin here in the thick of things in Cleveland, Ohio, where this story has just burst open. And now we have three women alive. This case is stunning this community, three women, who have been missing for just about a decade. Their names, Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michele Knight. In addition to these three women, there's also a young child believed to be the daughter of Amanda Berry according to police.

And now the news this afternoon, let me show you these pictures, because you have these three men, one of whom lived in this home here on Seymour Avenue. He was the homeowner where these three women were found just yesterday. Their names, Ariel Castro, he's the one who lives here, Onil Castro and Pedro Castro, all brothers. These are the photographs. They're in police custody. But to be clear, at this point in time, they have not been charged.

And it's impossible, really, to imagine the pain that comes with having a child abducted. But Erin Runnion knows firsthand what the families of Amanda Berry and Michele Knight and Gina DeJesus have gone through over this past decade. Why? Because Erin's little daughter, Samantha Runnion, was five years