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Ohio Suspects to be Charged Today; Ohio Neighbors Saw Suspicious Activity; Interview with Hero Neighbor Charles Ramsey; Escape from Captivity

Aired May 8, 2013 - 09:00   ET



CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Three women, Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus, and Michele Knight, enduring a decade of terror. This morning their families stunned and shocked.



GENTRY: Yes, how are you? I thought you were gone.

COSTELLO: Breaking overnight, exclusive new details on what happened on Cleveland's Seymour Street.

TORY DUNNAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You saw the tarps from where?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I can see it from my bedroom window.

COSTELLO: Neighbors telling CNN what they saw in the suspect's backyard.

Also a CNN exclusive.

ANDERSON COOPER, ANCHOR, AC 360: Because you moved in about a year ago. You'd seen Ariel Castro around.

COSTELLO: The hero neighbor, Charles Ramsey one-on-one.

CHARLES RAMSEY, NEIGHBOR: She's like, I've been trapped in here. He won't let me out. Me and my baby.

COSTELLO: A minute-by-minute account.

RAMSEY: What I do was tell her, go across the street and use their phone. Now we both calling 911.

COSTELLO: This morning, Cleveland attempts to heal. Yellow ribbons and a heavy heart.

NEWSROOM starts now.


COSTELLO: And good morning. Thank you so much for being with me. I'm Carol Costello.

We begin in Cleveland where investigators could get their first glimpse into the deep, dark secrets of what locals are calling a house of horrors. Local and federal authorities are due to question the suspects today for the first time. Cleveland's police chief said they expected charges to be filed today against homeowner Ariel Castro and his two brothers. They could also appear in court today.

We're also hearing more about conditions of the rescued women. It turns out authorities were wrong when they said all were released from the hospital yesterday. While Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus are said to be in good health, Michele Knight apparently remains in the hospital this morning. She had been missing the longest. She is described as weak and thin, and not so eager to talk to her family. We'll hear from Michele Knight's mother in just a minute.

But we want to share something first with you that caused eyes to well up here in the NEWSROOM. For the first time in 10 years, Amanda Berry was able to talk to her grandmother in Tennessee. Here's part of the call from WJHF.


BERRY: Hello?

GENTRY: Amanda.

BERRY: Yes, Grandma.

GENTRY: Yes, how are you?

BERRY: I'm fine.

GENTRY: I'm glad to have you back.

BERRY: Well, it's good to be back.

GENTRY: I thought you were gone.

BERRY: Nope, I'm here.

GENTRY: Yes. We're happy down here for you.

BERRY: Thank you so much. I miss everybody. I love you guys so much.

GENTRY: The little girl is your baby?

BERRY: Yes, she's my daughter. Born on Christmas.

GENTRY: We have to get together soon.

BERRY: I know it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have a little girl named Christina, and she wants to meet you. GENTRY: But I love you, honey, thank god.

BERRY: I love you, too.

GENTRY: I thought about you all this time. I never forgot you.


COSTELLO: You may have caught it. Berry confirms in that phone call that the 6-year-old child who escaped along with her and is seen in this hospital bed is indeed, her daughter. Amanda says she was born on Christmas Day, several years into her alleged imprisonment.

Michele Knight's mother hopes to see her daughter soon. Michele is 32 years old now, but was 21 when she disappeared in 2002, and she had a rocky relationship with her mother. Police thought she might have been a runaway. Knight's mother spoke to NBC's Savannah Guthrie.


SAVANNAH GUTHRIE, NBC NEWS: Do you feel that your daughter wants to see you?

BARBARA KNIGHT, MOTHER OF MICHELE KNIGHT: Yes. I know she's probably angry at the world because she thought that she would never be found. But thank God that somebody did. I had my doubts, but then I looked on the bright side. I did go to God and I prayed for, you know, some kind of thing to tell me at least if she is alive or not.


COSTELLO: And we want to update you on an issue we first raised yesterday. We questioned how a dispatcher handled Amanda Berry's frantic call to 911. That 911 operator is now under fire for sending police, quote, "as soon as we can get a car open," and then hanging up before that police arrived.

The Cleveland Police Department is looking into it and says the handling of that call is now under review. According to a statement, quote, "We have noted some concerns which will be the focus of our review, including the call taker's failure to remain on the line with Miss Berry until police arrived on the scene."

It also credits the dispatcher with acting swiftly and efficiently, saying, quote, "As a result of the call taker's actions, police were dispatched and on the scene in less than two minutes."

Last night, a police spokeswoman talked with Anderson Cooper.


DET. JENNIFER CIACCIA, CLEVELAND POLICE SPOKESWOMAN: That is something that the division is looking into at this time. But really the bottom line in that call, the call taker was able to get the information that was needed. A car was dispatched within 18 seconds and then the car arrived on scene in under two minutes. So really time wasn't a factor and what needed to be done was done.


COSTELLO: But the investigation into that 911 call goes on.

I want to take you now to Cleveland and check in with CNN's Martin Savidge.

Martin, we'll a little confused, will charges be filed against these men this morning, later in the afternoon, in the days to come?

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, good morning, Carol. It's pretty much got to be today. I mean, the judge or judges that had been consulted in this case say 48 hours after a time of arrest, you've got to come up with some sort of charges if you intend to.

If you look at the clock, then it goes back to 6:30, 7:00 on Monday when these suspects were taken into custody. So time frame, probably around that time tonight. City of Cleveland says it's going to announce a --with a press conference when that happens.

Elsewhere, I should talk about questioning. That actually began last night, just had a conversation with the FBI. They say that federal and local authorities began questioning the men last night. And that it is continuing again today. They say that in these interrogations you have a local officer and you have the FBI, and the suspects are brought in one at a time. That's how it's going so far.

But the other focus on the home where this all happened.


SAVIDGE (voice-over): Investigators scour the home on Seymour Avenue, searching for evidence in this house of horrors. Throughout the day and late into the night, FBI agents meticulously search. Removing the front door, searching the crawl space, carting away a red pickup and a jeep. At one point, bringing in a cadaver dog. It's not known what, if anything, the dog found. The FBI taking the lead in the search.

CIACCIA: This is just the tip of the iceberg. This investigation will take a very long time.

SAVIDGE: The three suspects, 52-year-old Ariel Castro, his brothers Pedro and Onil, behind bars. They'll face more interrogation today. Authorities have 48 hours to file charges and that window closes later tonight.

In the neighborhood, residents are still celebrating, the jubilance tempered with shock and disbelief.


TITO DEJESUS, NEIGHBOR: And I know who lived there and they panned the camera to his house, I was like, turned white and my wife told me, what's wrong, are you OK? I was like, that was -- I was dumbfounded. SAVIDGE: Away from the cameras, Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michele Knight, the three women who endured a decade of captivity trying to piece their shattered lives back together.

SANDRA RUIZ, GINA DEJESUS' AUNT: This is a miracle. A very, very large miracle. And we're all excited.


SAVIDGE: And I've just been told by the FBI, Carol, that they are done with their investigation at the home. At least for the time being. They said that they have finished gathering all the evidence they need to do so that's complete. They are continuing to question people in the neighborhood.

One other thing, the city of Cleveland issued a statement today. They're saying that they're hearing all these reports from people in the neighborhood who said they've reported suspicious activity, very specific stuff going on at that home, that address, the authorities are maintaining that is false. They claim they did not get any calls from anyone in that neighbors specifically reporting suspicious activity at that address.

COSTELLO: Interesting.

SAVIDGE: They've been very emphatic and pushing back.

COSTELLO: Interesting. Martin Savidge, stay right there. I have more questions for you but I want to bring in a "Cleveland Plain Dealer" reporter whose name is Peter Krouse because there is new disturbing information about the main suspect in the case, Ariel Castro. According to the "Plain Dealer," Castro severely beat his then wife in 2005. This apparently in addition to Castro's arrest for domestic violence in 1993. That charge later was dropped.

This is the mug shot of what he looked like in 1993. But the "Plain Dealer" has more about what happened in 2005. The paper says court documents show, quote, "Castro fought with his former wife over the custody of their children. Castro's wife twice suffered a broken nose, as well as broken ribs, a knocked-out tooth, a blood clot on the brain and two dislocated shoulders."

Come on back, Peter Krouse. He's a reporter for the "Cleveland Plain Dealer."

Did Castro serve any time for this crime?

PETER KROUSE, REPORTER, CLEVELAND PLAIN DEALER: No, he did not serve any time. In fact, I don't believe there were -- we've got no record of any charges being brought against them in 2005 in connection with -- with those accusations of domestic violence.

COSTELLO: Isn't that unusual?


COSTELLO: If you break a woman's ribs, wouldn't you be charged with assault?

KROUSE: Well, one would think so. You know, it was a custody battle, it was in domestic relations court and you know a lot of things are said in domestic relations court and they have to, you know, be proven before charges are brought. I'm not suggesting that these things didn't happen, obviously. Clearly it looks like Ariel Castro was capable of violence.

COSTELLO: And, Martin Savidge, I want to bring you back in because you talked a lot to Ariel Castro's family members. Did they mention this alleged domestic abuse?

SAVIDGE: No, they don't mention that specific incident that you're describing. They do talk about the fact that there were problems with the two other brothers. They knew of alcohol problems. You know, there have been talk of problems between husband and wife. Ariel, however, they say they were shocked when they have now read, you know, these violent assaults. They said they weren't aware of it.

It's really difficult to understand, is this the public front they're putting for their family, or was there a clear understanding that hey, there was a problem between husband and wife? And you can't discern that just yet in talking to them?

COSTELLO: All right, Martin Savidge, Pete Krouse of the "Cleveland Plain Dealer," thank you so much.

It's difficult to wrap your head around the fact that one man could have held three women captive in the same house for 10 years. Well, it turns out neighbors say they did see suspicious behavior, like a naked woman in the backyard.

CNN's Tory Dunnan is live in Cleveland with that part of the story.

Tory, what did this neighbor tell you?

DUNNAN: So, Carol, we talked to this neighbor who lives about three houses down. She's 20 years old, and she said ultimately, you know, at first she thought that he was a pretty normal guy, she used to ride on his ATV, and then she says all of a sudden about two years ago, she saw something pretty unusual coming from his house. Here's what she said in her own words.


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 -- 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 just thought that was weird so we called the cops.

DUNNAN: And then what happened?

SAMOYLICZ: They thought that we were playing and joking. And 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 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 a log or something we could --

DUNNAN: We could actually see it?

SAMOYLICZ: Yes. But I think the police might have took them down. I don't know. Like 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. He didn't let us in the house ever.


DUNNAN: So, Carol, obviously that neighbor is saying that there was some suspicious activity that she and her friend had called it into police, so police at this point, Carol, are saying that that is false. That they have now -- it looked through all their databases and that they have not found this in there.

COSTELLO: Yes. They haven't received any call from this neighborhood according to police since 2006.

Tory Dunnan, thanks so much.

Late word from the FBI, as you heard Martin Savidge say the FBI -- they're done searching that the house of horrors. At least for now. Charges are expected to be filed later today. The FBI also telling us the name of Amanda Berry's 6-year-old daughter, her name is Jocelyn. They're still not naming who the father might be.

Charles Ramsey, the man who kicked in the door and freed Amanda Berry, has become -- well, there's no other way to put it, he's become a sensation. Here he is one-on-one with Anderson Cooper.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) COOPER: So you moved in about a year ago? You've seen Ariel Castro around, right?

RAMSEY: I moved here, he was my neighborhood.

COOPER: Right.

RAMSEY: You know what I mean?

COOPER: What was he like?

RAMSEY: Cool. He wasn't no freak of nature. He was like me and you. Because he talked about the same thing you talked about.

COOPER: Right.

RAMSEY: He talked about you, you know what I mean? You know, regular stuff, bro.

COOPER: So yesterday what happened?

RAMSEY: You will love this. I am going to tell it all. Around 3:00, I was on my porch and the mailman put his mail in my mail. I looked at it like here's his mail when he come home. Couple of minutes later, he pulled up. He checked the mailbox, grabbed his paper. Before he went in the house, I said Ariel, here goes your mail. We just had the same conversation when I hand him the mail. He said, they can't get it right. I said, damn postal service. That's it.

He left. I jumped on my bike, went to McDonald's. Came back home, I'm in my house, but I'm in the living room and I'm right by the front door, because I'm looking out the front door, and man, this girl screamed like a car had hit a kid, which made me, you know, stop eating, what the hell was that?

You know, so when I got up, I saw this -- my neighbor across the street, he run across the street and I'm, like -- I'm thinking, where you going, because ain't nobody next door because I just saw Ariel leave.

And I know ain't nobody over there. Heard that girl scream and saw him run across the street, and I went outside and wondered what he was doing, and -- Amanda said, I'm stuck in here, help get me out. So, he -- guy don't know English that well or panicked, he just looked at me and it's a girl. And that's all he did.

So here I come with my, you know, half eaten Big Mac and I looked and I said well, what's up? And she's like I've been trapped in here, he won't let me out, me and my baby.

I said, well, we ain't going to talk no more, come on. I'm trying to get the door open, I can't, because he torture chambered it some kind of way and locked it up, right?

So I did what I had to do and kicked the bottom of the door, and she crawled out of it. She grabs her baby, which threw me off, all right, so fine. I got some girl and her kid.

COOPER: What did she look like? I mean, what was she wearing?

RAMSEY: Jumpsuit. She had a white tank top on, rings on, mascara. You know, she was well groomed.

She didn't look like she was kidnapped. That's what I'm saying. That's what threw me off. She was like I'm in here trapped. I'm like, well, you don't look kidnapped so maybe you got a boyfriend problem.

But I'm thinking I know who lives here and he's 50-something. You can't be the boyfriend problem. You know? It can't be him. Maybe you're dating his son.

COOPER: And you'd never seen her before?

RAMSEY: Bro --

COOPER: In the year that you had been there?

RAMSEY: Bro, that man, listen, never. That woman didn't come out the house. The only kids that came out the house were two little girls. They played in the backyard. He had two dogs and my -- where I live naturally is next door, my bedroom was upstairs so when I hear kids playing, I know it's them. They did the same thing, play in the backyard for a couple of hours, go back in the house. Same thing every day.

The neighborhood knows them as his grandchildren. So no big deal. He had his grandkids over all the time, I thought.

COOPER: Amanda Berry then, what, asked to call 911?

RAMSEY: Mm-hmm. And I took her to my house. Now I'm nervous as hell so I'm fumbling with my phone, so I finally get it right. She can't wait and I don't blame her. So what I do was tell her go across the street and use their phone.

Now we're both calling 911. Now she gets through and I get through. She deal with a moron, me, too.

COOPER: You said there -- what do you mean, a moron?

RAMSEY: Idiot.

COOPER: I heard the 911 call for her --

RAMSEY: Imbecile.

COOPER: And the woman kept --

RAMSEY: Shouldn't have a damn job.

COOPER: The woman was like hang up and wait for the police.

RAMSEY: Really. How about stay on and I will talk to you until they get there?

COOPER: Right.


CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Charles Ramsey talking with Anderson Cooper.

Just ahead of THE NEWSROOM: more of the one-on-one with Charles Ramsey as our special coverage from Ohio continues.


COSTELLO: Our special coverage from Ohio continues now.

Charles Ramsey, you know him by now. Many call him a hero, but Ramsey, himself -- no. More of Anderson's one-on-one with the man who rescued Amanda Berry.


COOPER: So you call 911.

RAMSEY: Sure did.

COOPER: How quickly did the police get there?

RAMSEY: You know what, they got there so fast because I said moron. Because I said hey, Amanda Berry is right in front of me right now. Here's what she got on and I told him white tank top, blue sweatpants, nice tennis shoes, nice ponytail.

What else? Oh, right. She's panicking, idiot. Put yourself in her shoes. Like I said, Amanda Berry, that don't ring no damn bells, you being a cop and all?

COOPER: But you -- when you first saw her and she said the name Amanda Berry, did it --

RAMSEY: It didn't -- I didn't know. Because I forgot. Bro, this is Cleveland. Since they haven't found that girl.

COOPER: Right.

RAMSEY: And I guess stopped looking for that girl, we figured that girl was -- met her demise.

COOPER: Right.

RAMSEY: So Berry didn't register with me until I was on the phone like, wait a minute, I thought this girl was dead.

COOPER: What does it -- what does it feel like to have been living next to this for a year?

RAMSEY: See, that's why now I'm having trouble sleeping. See, up until yesterday, the only thing that kept me from losing sleep was the lack of money. See what I'm saying?

So now that that's going on, and I could have done this last year, not this hero stuff, just do the right thing --

COOPER: Do you feel like a hero?


COOPER: Because there's a lot of people, they're saying you're a hero.


RAMSEY: No, no, no. Bro, I'm a Christian, an American, and just like you. We bleed same blood, put our pants on the same way. It's just that you got to put that -- being a coward, and I don't want to get in nobody's business. You got to put that away for a minute.

COOPER: Because you know how it is. There's a lot of people who turn away.


RAMSEY: You have to have cojones, bro.

COOPER: Keep walking down on the street.

RAMSEY: That's all what it's about. It's about cojones on this planet.

COOPER: Has the FBI said anything about a reward or anything? Because there was that -- there was a reward for finding her.

RAMSEY: I tell you what you do, give it to them. Because if folks been following this case since last night, you been following me since last night, you know I got a job anyway. Just went picked it up, paycheck. What that address say? That say?

COOPER: I don't have my glasses. I'm blind as a bat.

RAMSEY: 2203 Seymour. Where are them girls living? Right next door to this paycheck.

So yes, take that reward and give it to -- that little girl came out the house and she was crying. And I'm looking at her, right, I'm like your mama trying to help you, girl, shut up. I don't know, right.

And she's like I want my daddy. And I said, who's her daddy? She said Ariel.

COOPER: She said that.

RAMSEY: Yes. I said well, how's that possible? Because you wouldn't -- if you got kidnapped, he was having sex with you? Oh, Jesus. That little girl is his? Now, we want to hurt you.

COOPER: You felt that?

RAMSEY: Bro, this will be a different interview, I told you that, if we had known that. Man, I would be facing triple life.

COOPER: Wow. I'm glad it turned out this way.


COSTELLO: Oh, aren't we all? Besides whatever law enforcement reward Charles Ramsey may get, donations pouring in online. By all accounts, a Great Samaritan.

Still ahead, reaction from Michele Knight's family. They thought she was a runaway and police say Michele Knight was abducted and held captive for 11 years.


COSTELLO: Good morning. I'm Carol Costello. Thank you so much for joining me. It's just about 30 minutes past the hour.

Here are the latest developments out of Ohio, where the three women were rescued after years of captivity. Cleveland's police chief tells us he expects charges to be filed today against homeowner Ariel Castro and his two brothers, local and federal investigators began questioning them last night, one at a time.

In the meantime, the FBI is now done searching the house for now. Evidence technicians searched the house from the scrawl space to the attic, even the screen door that became the passage to freedom.

Also today, an update on how the women are doing. It turns out authorities were wrong when they said all three were released from the hospital yesterday. Amanda berry and Gina DeJesus are said to be in good health. Michele Knight, the oldest victim, remains hospitalized today. She had been missing the longest being weak, thin, and not so eager to talk to her family.

Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus, and Michelle Knight are -- well, they are finally being reunited with their family. Where are we going here?

There we go. We're going to Zoraida.

Michele Knight, let's talk more about here. She's been missing since 2002. Unlike the other women, a number of her family members thought she was a runaway and we understand that today she is not so eager to reunite with even her mother.

Zoraida Sambolin is live in Cleveland. She spoke with members of Knight's family. What did they say?

ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: You know, they said a lot, Carol.