Return to Transcripts main page


Three Women Missing For Years Found Alive; Air Force Arrest Highlights Assaults

Aired May 7, 2013 - 15:00   ET


BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Here we go, top of the hour. Welcome back. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

You're watching CNN live in Cleveland standing on the street, this is Seymour Avenue, by this home that police now say was a prison for these three missing women.

So, just over my left-hand shoulder here, we just saw minutes ago -- you see this maroon SUV. And that is the canine unit. I saw some of the dogs in the back of this van. In front of that, you see just about a half-dozen FBI agents and what they have been doing is setting up a tarp and a tent and a table, presumably to sort through some of the evidence that they will find after searching this home from high and low, the home belonging to one of the alleged captors here.

His name is Ariel Castro. His brothers, Pedro Castro and Onil Castro, each man at least 50 years of age. But the headline of this moment is this. It is the sheer joy of loved ones who really, they have been missing for a decade. Their families thought they were dead. And now they're back where they belong.

I want to show you now a family reunion really unlike any other. This is Amanda Berry in the center of this picture. The young girl in the bed is believed to be her daughter. And on the other side of Berry is her sister. This is her sister, Beth, who had not seen Berry in more than nine years.

That is because Berry is one of these three women allegedly imprisoned in this home here on Seymour Avenue. And it is just three to four miles from where these women some years ago went missing. Berry was just about to turn 17 when she up and disappeared back in 2003.

In addition to Berry, Gina DeJesus, she was 14 when she vanished a year later in 2004. And Michelle Knight was 20 when a loved one reported her missing in 2002. We're working on learning more about Michelle Knight and getting her photograph.

But yesterday it was Amanda Berry who made the move that turned her -- really, made for her freedom, breaking through the screen door of this home on Seymour Avenue, thanks to the help of a good samaritan. He's the one who called 911. And so did Amanda.


911 OPERATOR: Cleveland 911.

AMANDA BERRY, RESCUED AFTER 10 YEARS: Help me. I'm Amanda Berry!

911 OPERATOR: You need police, fire or ambulance?

BERRY: I need police.

911 OPERATOR: OK. What's going on there?

BERRY: I have been kidnapped and I have been with him for 10 years and I'm here. I'm free now.

911 OPERATOR: OK. What's your address?

BERRY: (INAUDIBLE) I can't hear you.

911 OPERATOR: It looks like you're calling me from (INAUDIBLE)

BERRY: I'm using the phone.

911 OPERATOR: OK. Stay there with those neighbors. 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?

911 OPERATOR: Yes, 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 you're -- who's the guy who went out?

BERRY: His name is Ariel Castro.-

911 OPERATOR: All right. How old is he?

BERRY: He's like 52.

911 OPERATOR: All right.

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

911 OPERATOR: OK. I got that. You said -- what was his name again?

BERRY: Ariel Castro.

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

BERRY: He's Hispanic.

911 OPERATOR: What's he wearing?

BERRY: I don't know, because he's not here right now.


911 OPERATOR: When he left, what was he wearing?


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

BERRY: I need -- OK.

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

BERRY: All right. OK.

911 OPERATOR: Thank you.



BALDWIN: How about that? And now I want you to hear from the man who heard Berry's screams, helped her kick in the front door of this home here to try to help her escape.


CHARLES RAMSEY, WITNESS: I heard screaming. I'm eating my McDonald's. I come outside, and 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 have been here a long time. We see this dude every day. I mean every day.

QUESTION: How long have they lived here?

RAMSEY: I have been here a year.


RAMSEY: You see where I'm coming from?

QUESTION: Right. RAMSEY: I barbecue with this dude. We eat ribs and whatnot and listen to salsa music.


BALDWIN: Charles Ramsey talking to a crush of reporters. What a story he has to tell.

Amanda Berry made her 911 call from a home just across the street, right here on Seymour Avenue, from this home that she had been held captive for a decade.

And Brian Todd is here with me now in Cleveland. He actually talked to the woman who lives across the way.

What did she say? What did she tell you?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Very dramatic picture, Brooke, that she painted of the moment when Amanda Berry came across the street to her house screaming, pretty much hysterical.

This woman's name is Altagrasia Tejeda, lives right across the street. We were able to visit with her inside her home and interview her about what that moment was like. She spoke to us in Spanish through a translator. Here is what she had to say about that moment.


ALTAGRASIA TEJEDA, NEIGHBOR (through translator): I was going to go inside, but then the police car arrived and when she saw it, she went down there and asked him to help her. She told them there were no more people inside the house. That's when they broke down the door.

TODD: Can you tell us what Amanda Berry was like when she came here? Was she screaming? Was she -- what was she dressed like? What did she -- how did she speak?

TEJEDA (through translator): She was very nervous and crying a lot. My little girls came crying saying, mommy, mommy, mommy, daddy, daddy, daddy. They were inconsolable. She was wearing a sweatshirt and a ribbon in her hair.

TODD: What was going through her mind when that happened?

TEJEDA (through translator): I sat down and put my hands on my head because I was not expecting that. How could it be that a man who used to say hello, who used to come over here -- you couldn't notice anything about him? He just lived there.

TODD: What can she tell us about Mr. Castro across the street?

TEJEDA (through translator): I saw him as a typical neighbor, someone you would see and wave back at. He would come and go, nothing unusual. He was a normal neighbor, polite, but he would just say hi with a wave. (END VIDEO CLIP)


TODD: That's what neighbors are saying about Ariel Castro. He was normal. You heard her say that she waved hello to him. I asked her a couple of different times, did you ever see any of these young women there? Did you ever see any children there? Never.


TODD: And she has lived there for eight years, Brooke.

BALDWIN: So, what about the fact, Brian, as we have been -- everybody has been digging on the story. We know police were called to the house twice.

TODD: Right.

BALDWIN: Once because we know Ariel Castro picked up the phone because he was reporting a street fight here in town, the second because he had left the child inadvertently is the word I keep reading, inadvertently on the school bus he was driving. So police were here.

TODD: Police were here. That was in 2004. They were investigating that report of a child left on the bus, whether it was inadvertent or purposeful. I think that's what they were investigating. They tried to gain access to that house at the time in 2004.

They were not able to get access to the house. They investigated...


BALDWIN: You mean as in going inside.

TODD: As in going inside or making contact with anyone inside.

They knocked on the door, called out. They -- just there was no answer, there was no response. They could not gain access at all. They later investigated it further outside of this neighborhood and determined that no criminal acts had been committed. He apparently either didn't do it purposefully, leaving the child on the bus. You know, that kind of thing can happen if you're a bus driver, I suppose, but they didn't find any criminal wrongdoing at that time.

BALDWIN: Reading about his history, zero criminal charges.

TODD: No. That's right.

BALDWIN: Just a couple traffic violations.

TODD: And neighbors who didn't suspect a thing for many years.

BALDWIN: For many years. Brian Todd, thank you. Excellent job here.

TODD: OK. Thanks.

BALDWIN: More here on this main suspect, Ariel Castro. Again, he's the one who owned this home. It is he had and his brothers who are now in custody.

He's 52 years of age. He's now sitting in jail awaiting charges. As Brian mentioned, he's a former school bus driver and he's also the man that police say held these three women captive for nearly 10 years in this home that you see here.

Last hour, I talked to Tito DeJesus. He played in a band for a couple of years with Ariel Castro. He's known him for two decades and he's actually one of the few people who made it inside of this home here on Seymour Avenue, again, police activity, canine crews, setting up evidence. FBI is here. But I talked to Tito DeJesus, and here is what he told me about this home just a short time ago.


TITO DEJESUS, KNEW SUSPECT: I have always known him to be a person who has been alone. I never pried into his personal life. I don't know if he was married or not, but I know he had children.

And recently through Facebook, he posted that he had grandchildren. It's 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. 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 were any photos.

But he was a neat person. I'm not saying he was super clean or anything, but I would say he was neat, as neat as a single guy can be these days, a musician. It was -- there was nothing out of place. 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 even thinking 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: So, that was that was Tito DeJesus. And again he had been in this home. He said nothing had really caught his eye. You heard Brian Todd's reporting, people who live in the neighborhood saying nothing really registered as the odd.

But if you talk to other people, they disagree.

I want to bring in Tory Dunnan. She's been here in the neighborhood with us here in Cleveland.

And you too have been out and you have been talking to people, as we're trying to glean a little bit more information on who this guy was, if anyone had noticed anything odd. What did one neighbor tell you?

TORY DUNNAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So, one neighbor who lives three houses over ultimately said to me, you know, at first, I sort of thought he was this regular guy. And then it was two years ago. She was across the street. She was supposed to be spending the night over there. And she noticed something really bizarre. Take a listen to this.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: 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. She was just walking around.

DUNNAN: And naked?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. We thought that was weird.

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

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: 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?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They thought we were playing and joking. They didn't believe us.


DUNNAN: So, Brooke, obviously, she said that she and her friends called the cops and they thought that she was joking. You know, police are saying that they are looking back through their database to try and figure out what sort of calls they got about that.

BALDWIN: Right. That's when we found that he had made a call about the street fight here and that he -- there was a issue with this child left on a school bus, but beyond that, there really wasn't much else. You have been talking to people.

Would you say the majority of people here in this neighborhood thought nothing wrong with this guy?

DUNNAN: I would say the majority have that opinion, that they're just shocked, they're in disbelief that this could happen.

BALDWIN: Under their own nose.

DUNNAN: Right. But there are a few who say, OK, there are some weird things. There was one neighbor who said there was a little girl up in a window of the house and every once in a while he would open the window for her. She would look out. They didn't really know what that was about, so, just signs here and there, but they say nothing that they would have picked up on until hearing this story.

BALDWIN: Tory Dunnan, thank you for me here in Cleveland.

And the story is abducted, held against their will, forbidden to see friends and family for about a decade here. We're going to talk about that. These three women in this case now have to try to adjust to a whole new life. We will talk to a psychologist who explains the tough transition they face. And, again, over -- we will do that. And over my shoulder, just to reset for you, take a look.

Get this live, guys. You see these canines now in the back, as this dog taken out of this canine unit, FBI agents surrounding it, presumably the dog going inside this home to see what it can find. Back here live in Cleveland in a moment.


BALDWIN: Back here live on CNN. We're in Cleveland. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

We're here for CNN's special coverage of really let's call it a miracle here in Ohio. Take a minute just to get some background on these three young women at the center of this absolutely incredible story.

Amanda Berry, she was 16 years of age when she was reported missing back on April 21, 2003. She had called her sister to say she was getting a ride home from her part-time job at Burger King when this happened. And then there is Michelle Knight. She is now 32 years of age. She was reported missing on August 22, 2002. A missing person's report was filed, but at the time her family thought she left on her own.

We're working on getting her photograph for you. And Gina DeJesus, she was all of 14 when she was reported missing back on April 2, 2004. She was last seen walking home from school. A relative says her family actually had known the suspect here who lived on this street where these young women were found yesterday. They actually went some years back, this connection, with Ariel Castro. So it was a decade in captivity for the three young women here in Cleveland.

And the road to normal is a long way off.

Joining me now is clinical psychologist David Swanson.

And, David, I really want to delve into the psychology, but before we do that, just how rare is it that you have someone who is either rescued or escapes from a captor?

DAVID SWANSON, CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST: This is just an amazing, amazing thing that has happened, because in most of these cases, you know, we know this, people end up dead.

So to have these three girls step forward 10 years later is an amazing miracle and we have to be truly thankful for that.

BALDWIN: You know, on the plane ride up here, I was reading this article from back in 2009 about Jaycee Dugard, and they pointed out that not only did she endure obviously emotional manipulation, and she was repeatedly raped, but that the biggest challenge for her was actually separation from her captor, which is hard for us to wrap our heads around because these are bad guys doing these things to these young women. But explain that to me.

SWANSON: Well, Brooke, that's a good point.

And so many of us who are not in that situation think to ourselves, if we had the chance, we would just run out of the house. But there are so many tactics of intimidation, of fear that keep us trapped in that situation. Oftentimes, we're afraid if we make that attempt, that something bad could happen to us or those that we love.

So, in our minds, we stay prisoner, and this is not an easy thing to escape from. Typically, this does not happen. And you have to really praise her for coming forward the way she did.

BALDWIN: So, David, what kinds of -- now that they are, thank goodness, alive and well and out of the hospital and being reunited with family members they haven't seen in a decade, describe then the transition process and I would imagine the years it will take to sort of find a new life.


Brooke, this morning, I read an article that said the nightmare is over, and unfortunately for these three girls it is far from over, because what we're going to see is the shock and the trauma really set in. Oftentimes, when we're going through the trauma, we don't feel it. But coming out of it, we really start to realize what is at stake.

Imagine if we tucked ourselves away in a time capsule for 10 years and we came back into life and we tried to reintegrate. Our parents look older. We're not in school anymore. We're not a child. Now we're an adult. And you start to realize all of the loss that we endured.

And so what you're going to start to see for all three of these girls, I believe, is deep bouts of depression, mixed with really, really rageful anger. And in addition to that, even though they're much more powerful now in their 20s, when you have trauma like this, you tend to see an emotional arrest.

So, when they go out in public, I think you will still see that deep insecurity to the border of paranoia in that I could still be taken away. So, for these three girls, it is going to be very important that they get into some type of therapy and really make sense of this.

Whenever there is a trauma, the first thing we want to know is why. We want to have meaning to apply to it, to make sense of it, so we know it won't happen again.

And that's going to be the focus of their therapy, to try to help them make sense of this so they can heal and move on.

BALDWIN: And, also, David, as they work to move on, I can't help but think about the family members who haven't seen them for 10 years. What about their emotional duress, not only that they have been through thinking their loved ones are dead, but now here they are alive and creating sort of a new norm, a new reality, as they move forward?

SWANSON: Yes, you know, again, for them, a tremendous trauma.

Many of them have given up hope. Many of them thought that their daughters were dead. And here they come. And, again, that mixture of excitement and just pure thankfulness will be mixed with anger and rage and depression because, for all of them, this is a big trauma and they have lost an awful lot -- a big part of their lives, so much they have missed out on.

And I think that's why you are going to see these deep emotions set in, in addition to the excitement of seeing each other again.

BALDWIN: David Swanson, clinical psychologist, David, thank you.

Again, we're here live in Cleveland, special coverage in just a moment.

But, first, he was a branch chief in the Air Force in charge of a sexual assault prevention program. And now the officer is facing charges for allegedly groping a woman, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel expressing his outrage and disgust. And he is not the only one on Capitol Hill who is furious today -- the story next in a live report.

Plus, the Dow, we have been talking about this for a couple of days, hitting the 15000 mark, just above. Could it close there for the first time ever? Fifteen minutes away from the closing bell.

Back in a moment.


BALDWIN: We're going to take you back to special coverage here in Cleveland in just a moment, but first, at this hour, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is about to release a new report on a pressing issue, sexual assault in the military.

That is the Pentagon briefing room that we will see here in a moment, the assault numbers shocking already. And they have now gone up. And talk about just absolutely horrible timing.

Two days ago, the leader of an Air Force assault prevention unit was arrested for alleged sexual battery.

Chris Lawrence with me now from the Pentagon.

And, Chris, what is -- what is happening there?

CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Simply, Brooke, outrage from Capitol Hill, to the White House, all the way back here to the Pentagon.

This arrest really could not have come at a worse time, as the Pentagon has to release these new statistics which will show an increase in sexual assaults. On Sunday morning at about 12:30 in the morning, a woman right here in suburban Virginia, just outside Washington, going back to her car in a parking lot, the police say a drunken man came up to her, grabbed her breasts and buttocks and tried to fondle her and touch her again.

And, as he did so, she scratched. She fought him off. She called police. And that's when they arrested Lieutenant Colonel Jeff Krusinski. You're looking at his mug shot right there from the police, and that has sparked outrage on Capitol Hill.


SEN. KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND (D), NEW YORK: If the man in charge for the Air Force in preventing sexual assault is being alleged to having committed a sexual assault this weekend, obviously, there is a failing in training and understanding of what sexual assault is and how corrosive and damaging it is to good order and discipline, and how it is undermining the credibility of the greatest military force in the world. This is not good enough.


LAWRENCE: So, again, the head of the Air Force's sexual assault prevention program now facing charges of sexual battery here in Arlington -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: Chris Lawrence at the Pentagon, Chris, thank you very much.

Back here in Cleveland, coming up next, a family member's intense emotion. The brother of Gina DeJesus tells CNN what he told his sister in the hospital room just last night after seeing her for the first time in almost a decade. We will play that sound for you.

Again, back here live. Before we go to break, let me just show you a close-up shot here, as you see the FBI presence on the street of Seymour Avenue. That's the home. You see that American flag waving? That is the home which Ariel Castro lived and apparently where these three young women lived as prisoners for a decade.

Back in a moment.