Return to Transcripts main page


Amanda Berry Calls Her Grandmother; Victim's Mom: "She's Probably Angry"; Ohio Suspects To Be Charged Today; 911 Dispatcher's Actions Under Review; Ohio Community Deceived; Freed Ohio Women Readjust Their Lives; Ohio Suspect's Aunt Speaks Out

Aired May 8, 2013 - 10:00   ET


CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now in the NEWSROOM, escape from captivity.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is the tip of the iceberg. This investigation will take a very long time.


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



AMANDA BERRY: Yes, Grandma.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I thought you were gone.


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


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You saw the tarps from where?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I could see them from my bedroom window.


COSTELLO: Neighbors telling CNN what they saw in the suspects' backyard. Also a CNN exclusive --


ANDERSON COOPER, HOST, CNN'S "AC 360": So you moved in about a year ago.


COOPER: You'd seen Ariel Castro around.


COSTELLO: The hero neighbor Charles Ramsey one on one.


RAMSEY: She's like, I'm trapped in here. He won't let me out, me and my baby.


COSTELLO: A minute by minute account.


RAMSEY: What I do is 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.

Good morning. Thank you so much for being with me. I'm Carol Costello. And we begin in Cleveland where the police expect charges to be filed today in the decade long disappearance of three women. We'll get the latest on the investigation in just a minute.

But first, an update on the conditions of the women rescued. It turns out authorities were wrong when they said all three were released from the hospital. While Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus are said to be in good health, Michele Knight, the oldest victim apparently remains in the hospital. She had been missing the longest.

She's described as weak and thin and not exactly eager to talk to her family. In the meantime, Amanda Berry reached out to her grandmother for their first talk in 10 long years. It's an exchange of love and relief that might bring tears to your eyes. Here's some of that call from WJHL.




GENTRY: Amanda.

BERRY: Yes, Grandma.

GENTRY: Yes, are you --

BERRY: I'm fine. How are you? GENTRY: I'm fine. I'm glad to have you back.

BERRY: It's good to be back.

GENTRY: I thought you were gone.

BERRY: Nope, I'm here.

GENTRY: Thank the Lord.


GENTRY: Is the little girl is your baby?

BERRY: Yes, she's my daughter.

GENTRY: I saw the picture, it's beautiful.

BERRY: Thank you.

GENTRY: You're welcome. How old is she?

BERRY: She's 6, born on Christmas.

GENTRY: She was born on Christmas. That's sweet. Honey, I know you can't talk too much and I know you're happy and we're happy down here for you.

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

GENTRY: We've got to get together. We've got to get together soon.

BERRY: I know, I can't wait to see you.

GENTRY: I know, I can't wait to see you either. But I love you, honey. Thank God.

BERRY: I love you too.

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

BERRY: I never forgot you either, Grandma.

GENTRY: I know. God bless your heart.


COSTELLO: As you might have heard, Berry confirms in that phone call that the 6-year-old child who escaped with her and is seen in the hospital bed is indeed her daughter. The FBI now says her daughter's name is Jocelyn. She was born on Christmas Day several years into Amanda's alleged imprisonment.

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


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: 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 some kind of thing to tell me, at least, that she's alive or not.


COSTELLO: Now, let's turn to the investigation. The FBI now done searching the house for now. Evidence technicians searched it from the crawl space to the attic. They even removed the screen door that became the women's passage to freedom.

Let's head live to Cleveland now. CNN's Martin Savidge is outside the courthouse where the suspects may appear soon.

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, good question, Carol. Here's what we know. Charges are anticipated to be filed before the day is out. If they're filed before 6:00 or shortly thereafter, you can anticipate an arraignment tomorrow morning and that would take place inside of the building behind us and it would be all three of the suspects there at the very same time.

Meanwhile, questioning of the suspects. That actually began last night according to the FBI, done jointly by FBI and local authorities and it is continuing again today. But the other real source of information is the house on Seymour itself.


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.

DETECTIVE JENNIFER CIACCIA, CLEVELAND P.O.: 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, FRIEND OF ARIEL CASTRO: And I know who lived there and they brought cameras to his house it was like I turned white. My wife told me, what's wrong, are you OK? I was like, 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: A bit more about that hearing if it goes forward tomorrow morning on schedule. That would be before Municipal Judge Lauren Moore. She would essentially read the charges against the three suspects. She would then ask how will they plea? It's possible they could enter a plea or they could decide to waive entering a plea at that particularly time.

Then there's the issue of bond that would be brought up. If there's bond, it's going to be exceedingly high I'm being told or there may be no bond at all. Cameras will be allowed in the proceedings when they happen -- Carol.

COSTELLO: Yes, when those proceedings happen, there'll be what, an arraignment? That's initial appearance. Why haven't these men appeared -- why is it taking so long?

SAVIDGE: Well, I think you know everyone realizes, of course, this is a huge case that has generated a lot of interest. You're dealing with it on the federal and the local level and it is potential here to get a lot bigger. So they're taking it carefully. They're going to push it right up against the time limit they have.

I've been told, actually, it doesn't necessarily have to be 48 hours in which they're charged, could go up to 72, it's just common practice to try to do it within 48. So there's not a guarantee we may necessarily hear today or it could come after hours.

COSTELLO: Understood. Martin Savidge reporting live from Cleveland this morning.

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

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

It also credits the dispatcher, though, 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 2 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 need, a call was dispatched within 18 seconds and then zone car arrived on scene in under 2 minutes. So really time wasn't a factor and what need to be done was done.


COSTELLO: And there is more new disturbing information this morning about Ariel Castro, the main suspect in this case. Just into CNN, we obtained court documents, which show Castro severely beat his former wife in 2005, this apparently in addition to Castro's arrest for domestic violence in 1993.

That charge was later dropped and this is what he looked like in 1993. But we have found out more about what happened in 2005. 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 and knocked out tooth, a blood clot on the brain and two dislocated shoulders."

Those documents also show that Castro threatened to kill his wife and her daughter, three or four times that year, 2005. Yet after numerous hearings, the case was dismissed as was the protection order his ex- wife had asked for so many more questions about this. But let's talk about -- let's talk about more about these suspects, Ariel Castro and his brothers.

Jim Clemente is a retired FBI profiler. He joins us now. I would suppose these new court documents don't surprise you much.

JIM CLEMENTE, RETIRED FBI PROFILER: No, not much. Actually before I knew this information, we'd already profiled him as basically a narcissistic sadistic control freak and these documents really support that. It takes that kind of a person to actually take away somebody's freedom, to be as brutal and as, you know, just complete monster to these three victims that he had and then the fourth victim that was born in captivity. So I think this is completely expected in this case and I would expect that you would find that same kind of activity went on with these victims.

COSTELLO: We know that a domestic violence charge was dismissed in 1993. We don't know what happened with this 2005 case, but we don't think charges were filed, at least as far as we know. If he had paid a penalty for these things, might that have changed him or was that impossible?

CLEMENTE: Well, well, I don't know it would have changed him, but certainly would've alerted people in the community and in the police department that this guy was a violent person. I think the fact is that most domestic violence cases end up like this. Unfortunately, they're very difficult to pursue. The women sometimes when they're battered don't want to create more of a sense of adversity with the man who is being violent with them. And unfortunately, the system is so tough to deal with that many times they just decide to drop the case.

COSTELLO: But two broken noses, broken ribs and knocked out tooth, blood clot on the brain, two dislocated shoulders. That's extreme domestic abuse.

CLEMENTE: It is. I think when you have medical evidence like that. I think the prosecutors should bring the cases despite whether or not the victim wants to pursue those charges. When you have documented medical evidence like that, I think they could pursue the case and actually get a conviction. I wish they had done that in this case.

COSTELLO: Well, we're investigating this. We're going to try to find out why. We don't know all the facts surrounding the story. We'll go on with that investigation. I also wanted to ask you about Castro's two brothers.

There was an article in the "Cleveland Plain Dealer" this morning that said that the two brothers had trouble with alcohol. Both were alcoholics. As far as I know, both of them were unemployed. I just found it strange that Ariel Castro would pull his brothers into this sick world according to police I should say.

CLEMENTE: Well, yes. And, yes, according to police, but that's also an assumption that he pulled them in. This may have been something they all agreed to in advance. This may have been something that they had talked about before. You don't know if he pulled them in or if they were ready, willing and able to be involved in this.

As far as alcohol goes, it doesn't -- alcohol doesn't create a monster. What it does is lower the inhibitions of people and it allows them to do things they wanted to do before but sort of had enough sense and enough morals to stay away from it. I think it just creates an opportunity for them to do what they wanted to do in the first place.

COSTELLO: Jim Clemente, former FBI profiler. Thank you so much for being with us this morning.

CLEMENTE: Thank you, Carol.

COSTELLO: Back to the victims now. Gina DeJesus, Amanda Berry and Michele Knight, all say there'll be many tough days and nights ahead. These women must now transition from a life in captivity to a family life that is certainly now unfamiliar.

Marsha Gilmer Tullis is the executive director of the Family Advocacy for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Thanks for being here, Marcia.


COSTELLO: Good morning. Family support, I would expect will have a lot to do with these women's recovery. I just want to show you a shot of Amanda Berry's home. You see it there with the flowers and the balloons and the welcome home sign. You know, I know you can't speak specifically about any one case. But this kind of thing, it must make Amanda feel absolutely joyous.

TULLIS: Indeed it would. This is a very exciting time for those of us that work in the area of missing and exploited children. Certainly, the community, you know, the world is very excited about these women being recovered. And it does certainly say to these victims that there are people out there that care about them.

That there always have been people out there that care about them, but, you know, but with all missing children cases and when there are recoveries, there are certainly things that need to be done to ensure that the family can move forward and a very positive and constructive way upon recovery.

COSTELLO: Marsha, many counselors say it's important these victims not be exploited, but already details of their ordeal have been leaked to reporters and family members, some family members have allowed media to overhear phone calls like the one from Amanda Berry to her grandmother. How might this affect this type of victim?

TULLIS: Well, you've got to understand that for family members this is such a wonderful time for them. And when we get into the issue of exploitation, if you will, it is not anything that is done, you know, on purpose, if you will. You know, there is no way for a family member to think this would be anything that could be exploiting them and actually, it's what we like to call the honeymoon period where they are so excited.

And they want people to be with them in their joy and to feel what it is what they are feeling, as well. So I don't want to say that we would like to call it exploitation per se, it is just that period of time where there is so much happiness and so much joy and they want to share that with the world.

COSTELLO: I look at the Jaycee Dugard case, right, her family controlled access to her daughter. She was held by a man for 18 years and by all accounts doing quite well. What advice from here on out would you have for the families of these kinds of victims?

TULLIS: Well, what it would be like to say -- and we really do want to help the public understand with any type of missing child case, regardless if that child had been missing a day, week or multiple years, it's really important that they have the opportunity to have some private time, that they have the opportunity to work and be connected to therapists and treatment professionals that know this issue and know about the complexities and the dynamics and what the families are going to need as they move forward.

There is no particular recipe, if you will, for what is going to work for one family versus what's going to work for another family. Each family is unique and what their needs are going to be. And the treatment professional needs to understand that when they do work with these families, this is going to be likely a long-term type of need for the families and they need to be committed to the fact that they may need to spend time with these families for many, many years.

COSTELLO: Marsha, executive director of Family Advocacy for the Center of Missing and Exploited Children. Thanks so much for being with us this morning.

TULLIS: Thank you for having me.

COSTELLO: You're welcome. Our special coverage out of Ohio continues in just a minute. But coming up next, what the suspects' cousin is now saying about the accusations against Ariel Castro.


COSTELLO: Continuing our special live coverage out of Cleveland, Ohio, we're now hearing from family members of the man accused of keeping those three women locked away for more than a decade. Family members of Ariel Castro say they're shocked. They remain shocked by the whole thing.

Zoraida Sambolin is live in Cleveland with the suspect's cousin. Hi, Zoraida.

ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, ANCHOR, CNN'S "EARLY START": Hi, good morning to you. We have Maria Castro Montes with us. And you know, Carol, you were saying that the family is shocked. You know, we're all shocked, right, but imagine being related to the three men that are now behind bars. So we were talking a little bit earlier about your relationship, you have a closer relationship or had a closer relationship with Ariel over the other two. Can you tell me about the relationship?

MARIA CASTRO MONTES, ARIEL CASTRO'S AUNT: I was obviously closer with Ariel as we were younger in our teenage years. You know, they did live close here to this neighborhood and I did grow up in this neighborhood with my parents having a business here. And, you know, we -- I've seen him play, seen some of his gigs, he was an amazing musician, you know, rode on his motorcycle a couple of times with him when we were teenagers.

And then you grow up and you move on and you separate and you move away from each other. And then there's a distance and not because of anything in particular happened, not from any family feuds, just a normal distance that happens when people grow up.

SAMBOLIN: We're just starting to hear some of the details about what happened inside of that home from the police chief. And they're talking about chains, maybe these girls being bound and gagged. When you hear things like that, knowing this is your cousin, this is your family, how do you feel?

MONTES: You know, I'm horrified, the entire family is horrified. We can't believe that any member of this family no matter how close, how distant, how long it's been since we've seen him or talked to him that anyone in our family or anywhere in society is capable of something as horrible as the things that they're describing here.

And, you know, I feel for our family and what we are listening to and disbelief. But I -- my pain is for those girls. My heart is with those girls. I can't even believe that they endured all of that for as long as they did. And I'm amazed by their courage and their strength, and certainly glad that they came out of all of this alive.

SAMBOLIN: We were talking earlier about, you know, some people questioning the family, the morals and the values of the family and you actually got together, the cousins got together last night to talk about that. Can you share some of that with us?

MONTES: We did. Several of the cousins, we had a meeting last night at my house, obviously, talking about everything that has transpired, talking about our disbelief with the whole thing. You know, talking about how important it is that people know that these three men do not define our family.

And obviously we share a bloodline with them, there's no denying that. We share a last name with them. We do not share a mindset with what they've done. There is no way that we can possibly condone, forgive, or no possible way any of us would've hidden or kept quiet about any possible details having to do with any of this. If anyone in this entire family had known what was going on, no one would've remained quiet, not even his own children or mother I'm sure.

SAMBOLIN: How are his children?

MONTES: You know, I haven't spoken to his children personally, I know that his oldest daughter was having a very difficult, emotional episode the night this all broke and understandably so. I couldn't imagine what it must be like to find out. He's my cousin, but imagine the young woman that has to face the fact that this is her father. I mean, he has four kids and all of these kids now are trying to come to grips with everything that's being said and everything that's being uncovered.

SAMBOLIN: Well, you know, when we talked earlier, you didn't paint the picture of a monster early on. The two of you are very close. You had a very tight bond.

MONTES: We had and he wasn't a monster. And not a monster that we knew of, obviously now we're seeing a monster. And it's horrifying, but, you know, that's not what he was. That's not what even this community saw him as.

SAMBOLIN: I want to read to you some information that we got recently from the police department, and it was his ex-wife filed charges against him. And all acts of domestic violence against her. Two broken noses, two broken ribs, knocked out tooth, blood clot on the brain, two dislocated shoulders. She also alleges that he threatened to kill her and her daughter three to four times just that year alone. That was in 2005, in 2005. Did you know about these allegations? Did anyone in the family know?

MONTES: No, absolutely not. And again, these are things now that are coming to the surface, obviously, because of the investigations and things they're looking at into any possible criminal past, any possible criminal records. You know, but what is so unfortunate when it comes to domestic violence is that so many women allow themselves to rep main quiet and to cover up these incidents. Now, if she obviously had some point had made a report but it has been said that there was never a conviction, so, you know, again what's so unfortunate is what happens with so many women of domestic violence, they forgive their attacker and they drop charges and then, you know, they go on to suffer these same acts of violence behind closed doors. But that's the major point there. Those are things that happen behind closed doors. Our family didn't know.

SAMBOLIN: I know it's really important to you that we remember the girls in all of this and the victims.

MONTES: Absolutely, absolutely. And I said that earlier. You know, our biggest concern, our heartfelt sincere hope and prayers go to these girls and that they can somehow find a way to recover and move on and find a normal life again and rekindle with their families. That's the most important thing. They need time to heal and time to spend with their families and reconnect.

SAMBOLIN: I suspect your family needs that, as well.

MONTES: We all do. This is horrible for all of us. There's more than one family involved here that is going through heart ache.

SAMBOLIN: Maria, thank you so much for joining us again. We really appreciate it. Carol, back to you.

COSTELLO: All right, Zoraida, thanks so much. And Maria, too, we appreciate you sharing your story. NEWSROOM will be right back.