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How To Protect Children; Remembering Samantha Runnion; Suspect's Past As A Bus Driver; Three Captives Free, Three Brothers Arrested; FBI Activity At Suspect's Home; Obama: "A Moral Obligation" To Syria; Found After Years Of Captivity

Aired May 7, 2013 - 14:29   ET


BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: 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 5 years old when she was abducted and killed in 2002.

Her killer was captured, was convicted, and Erin now turned her pain into action. She's founded the Joyful Child Foundation in Samantha's memory. The foundation's mission is to prevent crimes against children by empowering families and empowering communities. Communities such as where we stand here in Cleveland. So, Erin, thank you so much, for joining me here today.


BALDWIN: What is your reaction hearing this news here that the three young women and now what appears to be a daughter are alive and free?

RUNNION: I could not be happier. I was absolutely thrilled in tears when I heard the news and just the more that it -- as it unfolded, seeing the pictures of them in the hospital, it is just a beautiful, beautiful day.

BALDWIN: Does this beautiful day, should this beautiful day instil hope in families, families of missing children? RUNNION: Absolutely, absolutely. You know, nothing is more agonizing than not knowing if your child is alive or dead, if they're suffering, where they are, all of the unimaginable possibilities. There is not a good one in the mix. And to have families know that every once in a while, every once in a blue moon we have a recovery like this that just re-instils the hope for unfortunately thousands of other families.

BALDWIN: I'm glad you said that, though. It is every once in a blue moon. You know, I was reading on the plane here today, it is such a rarity to have happy endings, if you will. Happy endings in cases like this where you have, you know, these victims who manage to escape, who are released in some cases from their captors. How rare is this, Erin?

RUNNION: It is extremely rare. You know, there are over 58,000 nonfamily related child abductions every year in this country and of those, about 115 are cases like my daughter, where it is this complete stranger and the child is not recovered alive. But of those 58,000, more than half of those people are assaulted before they are recovered or found.

So for them to be discovered so many years later, it is really very rare. And about 72 percent of the child abduction cases where the person is killed, it usually happens, unfortunately, within the first three hours of that abduction. So time is of the essence when we're talking about abduction scenarios. The reality is when it comes to adults who go missing like Michelle knight. We don't have any statistics on young adults who go missing.

BALDWIN: So then what is -- for parents that have little ones? You have this foundation, what is the takeaway? What do parents need to know?

RUNNION: Well, what we need to do is empower young people to defend themselves, we really do. We need to teach risk reduction techniques on personal safety, but even more so, we need to teach them how to fight because if we can resist being taken from one location to another, we can resist and get away from the vast majority of these crimes.

You know, and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children did a case study on 500 abductions and then over 85 percent of those cases, it was the child's physical resistance that enabled them to escape and only 11 percent did an adult intervene. It is really important when these things happen, generally the victim is alone, and we have to empower our children with safety education and with self- defense.

BALDWIN: Erin Runnion, thank you so much for coming on and your perspective. We so appreciate it. As we are again here in Cleveland covering this -- thank you, covering this amazing story, we need to talk about someone who lived in this home, the home in which it sounds like these three young women and this small child had lived up until yesterday. We're going to bring on Mike Brooks. He is one of our law enforcement analysts, because he can talk about this man, who apparently was a school bus driver. We talked so much about teachers going through background checks. What about the drivers? What do they have to go through? Could something have been overlooked here? That's next.


BALDWIN: Ariel Castro once drove a school bus and a lot of people here in Cleveland wondering how children can be kept away from potential predators. HLN law enforcement analyst Mike Brooks joins me now.

And, Mike, we're told that there was an incident in the past when this guy, Ariel Castro, left a child alone on a bus. The word I saw was inadvertently. The police determined, you know, there was no criminal intent. I know it is easy to second guess, of course, but should an incident like that have raised a big old red flag?

MIKE BROOKS, HLN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, yes. It could. But the problem is, you know, they do background checks, Brooke, on everyone who is involved in anything at school now, school bus drivers, teachers, volunteers, parents who even come in to volunteer in their children's classroom.

But if you don't have anything on your record, you know, you're going to come up with a clean record and you'll have a background check with nothing on it. This incident, though, how many times have we heard even with private schools, with day cares, where a child is left on a bus?

Sometimes you get to the end of the route and he'll look in the back and he'll find a child maybe asleep on the -- we don't know the particulars around that particular incident. But apparently, it didn't raise any red flags with law enforcement.

And I'm sure law enforcement would have looked into it to see whether or not he had any kind of background, whether they thought there was any kind of criminality whatsoever involved.

BALDWIN: Here's my other question, I want to move off the bus driver and talk about the -- we hear this all the time, you see something, you say something. We cover these stories unfortunately all too often on my show where, you know, it is all about a neighbor finally seeing something that hopefully saves a life.

Because, you know, maybe too many windows are blacked out and maybe there was someone seen acting erratically in the backyard or maybe there were kids seen for a while and suddenly poof, they disappear and now with this story, you hear all these neighbors here in Cleveland saying, yes, that was a little odd.

BROOKS: Well, you know --

BALDWIN: It is tough to hear that. BROOKS: It is. And, you know, even though there were some windows with a board or something. There are windows. There are some houses in my neighborhood here in Atlanta that people are looking in that might have boards on them. You know, in this particular neighborhood, every time they heard someone scream, did they call the police? Most likely not.

If they saw something, they said, that seems a little odd, did they call the police? Probably not. And that's the whole thing. A lot of people just, I don't want to get involved here, it is not my job, not my job to call the police on someone else because, in fact, apparently there had been besides the bus incident, Ariel Castro had called the police -- he himself had called the police in that neighborhood, Brooke, apparently -- exactly.

So he called the police, somebody didn't call the police on him. So, you know, they came out, maybe talked to police, but the problem is, every time one of these girls went missing in 2003, 2004, 2005, people do -- law enforcement. They do a canvas of the neighborhood. They'll go and knock, did you hear anything? Did you see anything?

But they just can't come into your house. And if you don't want them into your house, they can't get -- come into your house unless they have a warrant.

BALDWIN: Yes, Mike Brooks, again, the take away, I know you can't call police every time you see a boarded up window on a home, to your point there are three boarded up windows on three different homes here on this very block, but it is the takeaway for all of us, be astute. Mike Brooks, thank you so much.

BROOKS: Thanks, Brooke.

BALDWIN: He heard screams. He jumped into action, speaking of people who do something, say something, Charles Ramsey being hailed as the hero neighbor here in Cleveland. You will hear his 911 call that started it all next.


BALDWIN: Back here live in Cleveland. We just wanted to show you a tight close-up view of the front of this home here on Seymour Avenue, where these three women had basically been held as prisoners for a decade. You see the front door. You see a little activity.

We wanted to show you all of a sudden some FBI agents have appeared on this block, couple of cars, a couple of sheriff deputies, see that one agent walking up and down the house. That is the house of Ariel Castro, with that single porch light on, with two different flags, the American flag and the Puerto Rican flag here.

So a little activity here, what they're looking for, we don't know. But no doubt, they will be here in the coming days, scrubbing this home, going through this home, trying to figure out exactly how these three women were kept as long as they were. And really, it was this 911 call that a bystander, Charles Ramsey, made after he kicked down the door of the home that we just showed you where Amanda Berry, a young girl, and two women were being held. Listen.


911 OPERATOR: Cleveland 911 police, ambulance or fire?

CHARLES RAMSEY: Yes, bro. I'm at 2270 Seymour, West 25th, check this out. I just came from McDonald's, right? I'm on my porch eating my little food, right? This broad is trying to break out the -- house next door to me. So there's a bunch of people on the street right now, and so we're like, what's wrong? What's the problem? She's like this -- kidnapped me and my daughter. She said her name is Linda Berry or some -- I don't know who that -- is. I just moved over here.

911 OPERATOR: Sir, sir, you have to calm down and slow down. Is she still in the street?

RAMSEY: Seymour Avenue.

911 OPERATOR: Is she still in the street?

RAMSEY: Yes, I'm looking at her. She's calling you all. She is on the other phone.

911 OPERATOR: Is she black, white or Hispanic?

RAMSEY: She white, but the baby looks Hispanic.

911 OPERATOR: OK, what is she wearing?

RAMSEY: White tank top, light blue sweat pants, like a wife beater.

911 OPERATOR: Do you know the address next door? That she said she was in?

RAMSEY: Yes, 2207. I'm looking at it.

911 OPERATOR: OK, I thought that was your address?

RAMSEY: No, I'm smarter than that, bro. I'm sitting here with the crime was.

911 OPERATOR: Sir, we can't talk at the same time. Do you want to leave your name and number?

RAMSEY: Charles Ramsey.

911 OPERATOR: Are the people she said that did this, do you know if they're still in the house?

RAMSEY: I don't have a -- clue, bro. I just came from McDonald's.

911 OPERATOR: Can you ask her if she needs an ambulance? RAMSEY: Do you need an ambulance or what? She needs everything. She is in a panic. She's been kidnapped. Put yourself in her shoes.

911 OPERATOR: We'll send the police out.


BALDWIN: As we now know, the police came to this location here on Seymour Street to this home, and found two more women inside. They then arrested these three suspects. Let me show you the pictures because these men are all brothers, left to right, Ariel Castro, Onil Castro, Pedro Castro, currently awaiting charges. That's the situation with potentially three men involved here.

Coming up next, news out of the White House involving President Obama and Syria. Special CNN coverage continues live from Cleveland in just a moment.


BALDWIN: Back here live, special coverage of what is happening here in Cleveland. We'll get back to that in a moment. I want to begin talking about the president, President Obama wrapping up a press conference at the White House with the president of South Korea. The president did address Syria, specifically, saying his administration is investigating reports of chemical weapons, the use of chemical weapons, and he says they will act if necessary.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I think that we have both a moral obligation and a national security interest in, A, ending the slaughter in Syria, but, B, also ensuring that we got a stable Syria, that is representative of all of the Syrian people, and is not creating chaos for its neighbors.


BALDWIN: The president there speaking at the White House earlier this afternoon. Coming up here, continuing our special coverage in Cleveland, as, Jay, let's zoom in, take some live pictures, as you can see some of the FBI units rolling up here on the scene, K-9 unit here as well.

We're watching the activities here at this house on Seymour Avenue. But coming up, we're talking about other miracle kidnapping cases, cases in which these young people escaped and survived. That's next.


BALDWIN: Talk about a truly remarkable story here out of Cleveland, Ohio. Again, you have these three young women who were abducted. They were held captive and then they were rescued, years later. Today, those young women have been reunited with their families. They're out of the hospital. They're back at their new homes. But this isn't the only time that people have been kidnapped, vanished for years, most of them presumed dead and then are somehow reunited with their families. Let me go through some of these. You certainly remember the Jaycee Dugard case. She was abducted way back in '91, outside of her home in California.

And then she was held in a compound of sheds, in the back of a home, for more than 18 years. In that time, she gave birth to two children during her captivity. She and her daughters were found, they were rescued just a couple of years ago in 2009.

Jaycee Dugard also gave this statement regarding this reunion here in Cleveland. This is what she said. Quote, "These individuals need the opportunity to heal and connect back into the world. The human spirit is incredibly resilient. More than ever this reaffirms we should never give up hope."

Hope here pervasive in Cleveland, but not all the victims of this type of abduction are young girls. For example, Shawn Hornbeck was kidnapped by a man named Michael Devlin back in 2002. He was forced to pose as his captor's son for more than four years. Shawn was rescued when he was 15 years old and reunited with his family.

And, of course, one of the most famous cases ever here, the abduction and rescue of this woman, Elizabeth Smart. She was 14 years old when she was kidnapped from her own bed, in her Utah home, held captive for nine months. Her father, Ed Smart, talked to CNN early today.


ED SMART, FATHER OF ELIZABETH SMART: I think they're going to be trying to find their new place, you know, their new -- I'm sure that they wonder how they're going to be accepted by their families, and, you know, how they're going to move forward and what does this mean to the people that kidnapped them? But to be free at this point is just, I mean, three miracles. What a wonderful opportunity for them to be reunited with their family.


BALDWIN: And we have put together all these remarkable stories, they're featured in the special segment today on, so make sure you check that out on our home page.

Coming up next, we just got an interview with the neighbor across the street here on Seymour Avenue who ran -- who Amanda Berry actually ran to. Stay with us. Live coverage from Cleveland. You're watching CNN.