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Three Men Arrested for Kidnapping to be Charged Today; The Investigation Continues on the Castro Brothers; Alleged Captors to be Charged Today
Aired May 8, 2013 - 12:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER: Three Ohio women who were held captive for a decade or so are reuniting with their family and friends today.
Amanda Berry, she has now returned to her home within the past hour. And just a few minutes after she arrived her sister made a statement to the public and the media requesting privacy for the family.
Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everybody down.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Beth.
BETH SERRANO, SISTER OF AMANDA BERRY: Happy to have Amanda and her daughter home.
I want to thank the public and the media for their support and encouragement over the years. And at this time, our family would request privacy so my sister and niece and I can have time to recover.
We appreciate all you have done for us throughout the past ten years. Please respect our privacy until we are ready to make our statements.
And thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: A brief statement from the sister of Amanda.
The three suspects in the case, they are being questioned by federal authorities. They will be charged later today.
Pedro, Onil and Ariel Castro, they are brothers. They allegedly held Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight hostage inside Ariel Castro's Cleveland home.
Police say the women escaped Monday along with Berry's young daughter who born in captivity. She's six-years-old.
The city's police chief says authorities have found ropes and chains inside Ariel Castro's home. Officials believe they were used to restrain the three women. They say no human remains were found.
CNN has learned that Ariel Castro was accused in 2005 of beating his then-wife. Court documents say his wife suffered several, significant injuries, including a blood clot on her brain.
The documents also say Castro repeatedly threatened to kill her and her daughter.
The neighbor who helped the three women escape by knocking down the suspect's door gave an exclusive interview to CNN's Anderson Cooper. Charles Ramsey recounted the ordeal to Anderson Cooper in detail.
Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON COOPER, ANCHOR, "AC360": So you moved in about a year ago. You'd seen Ariel Castro around, right?
CHARLES RAMSEY, HELPED FREE MISSING WOMEN: When I moved here only because he was my neighbor, you know what I mean?
COOPER: Right. 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 talk about. He talk about you. You know what I mean? Regular stuff, bro.
COOPER: so yesterday, what happened?
RAMSEY: You'll love this. I'm going to tell it all.
Around 3:00 I was on my porch, and the mailman put his mail in my mail. I've lived here. I get Ariel's mail.
When he come home, couple minutes later, he pulled up. Grabbed the mail, I go, Ariel, here go your mail.
Same conversation when I handed him the mail. Can't get it right. I said, nope. 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.
I'm looking out the front door. And, man, this girl screamed like a car had hit a kid, which made me stop eating. What was that?
So when I got up I saw my neighbor across the street. He'd run across the street. And I'm thinking where are you going? I just saw Ariel leave and I know nobody there.
Heard that girl scream and saw him run across the street and ran outside wondered what he was doing.
And Amanda say I'm stuck in here. Help get me out. Guy don't know English that well and panicked. Here I come with my half eaten Big Mac and I look and say, 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, you ain't got to talk no more. Come on.
I'm trying to get the door open and can't. Torture-chamber it some kind of way, lock it up, right.
So I did what I had to do to kick the bottom of the door and she crawled out. She grabs her baby, which threw me off, all right. Fine. I got some girl, her kid.
COOPER: What did she look like? What was she wearing?
RAMSEY: Jumpsuit. She had a white tank top on, rings on, 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's like I'm in here trapped. So maybe having boyfriend problem.
But I'm thinking I know who lives here and he 50 something. You can't be the boyfriend problem. Can't be him. Maybe you're dating his son.
COOPER: You'd never seen her before ...
COOPER: ... in the year that you'd been there?
RAMSEY: Bro, 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 where I live naturally is next door. My bedroom is upstairs. So I just look here's kids playing I know it's them. They do the same thing, play in the backyard for a couple hours, go back in the house, same thing every day.
The neighborhood knows them as his grandchildren, so no big deal. Has his grandkids over all the time, I thought.
COOPER: Amanda Berry then asked to call 911?
RAMSEY: 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. I don't blame her. So what I do is 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's dealing with a moron. Me, too.
COOPER: You said they're -- what do you mean moron?
COOPER: I heard the 911 call for her.
COOPER: And the woman kept saying like ...
RAMSEY: Why do you have that damned job?
COOPER: And the woman was like, hang up and wait for the police.
RAMSEY: Really. How about stay on and talk to me until they get there?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Charles Ramsey, certainly a hero in helping free these three women who had been held for about a decade, speaking to Anderson Cooper.
Ramsey, by the way, says he's not interested in any reward money. He says it should go to the victims.
Coming up, we're going to go live to our own Poppy Harlow. She's in Cleveland right now. She's heading to the home of Gina DeJesus, one of the three women who've been freed after a decade in captivity.
Gina DeJesus was reported missing when she was only 14-years-old. Now she's 23. That's her home. She's heading there. So are we right after this.
BLITZER: One of the three women held captive for a decade inside a Cleveland, Ohio, house is now back home. Amanda Berry, she reunited with her family in the last hour.
Another of those three women, Gina DeJesus, she, we are told now, is on her way home.
Our own Poppy Harlow is in Cleveland. She's joining us on the phone. These are emotional reunions, Poppy. What do we know?
POPPY HARLOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): Hi, Wolf. It's certainly incredibly emotional.
I was outside of the Serrano home where Amanda just came home within the past hour as we've been showing our viewers.
I want to be clear. We do not know if Gina DeJesus is going back to her home or not. We're hearing reports that she may be, but we do not know that at this point in time.
As we know, the family has been asking for privacy and to let them get through this and just be together as a family. But we heard that statement from Amanda Berry's sister, Beth Serrano, saying we are so happy that Amanda and her daughter are home. She thanked the public, the media for their support and requested privacy.
We're told we are not going to hear from Amanda Berry, at least not today, Wolf.
But I did have a chance to speak with some neighbors. I see well over 150, 200 people gathered outside, media, friends, family, to support Amanda Berry and her family.
And I spoke to some neighbors and one said, this is just such an ecstatic and exciting day for us. We've been waiting for this, hoping for this.
Another two people that live nearby said that this is just incredible, frankly, that they did not think that this day was going to come. It had been 10 years. They did not think that Amanda Berry was going to make it home.
And indeed, today, they were there standing there watching as she did. So a very big day for this entire community, her name known all around Cleveland for years and years.
And interesting color for you, Wolf, I don't know what pictures we're showing right now because I can't see, but this sign with Amanda Berry's picture on it on the front of the home, that has been up there for years and years as they have been holding up hope for her safe return.
A yellow ribbon has been tied around the tree in front of the home for years and years as well for her. And it is still there today and was there to greet her when she came home.
BLITZER: What an emotional moment that was. And we are so happy for the families of all three of these young women who have now been freed.
Poppy, you had a chance to speak with the father of Ariel Castro's ex- wife, Ariel Castro, the owner of that home where allegedly these women were held for a decade. What did he say?
HARLOW (via telephone): We did. It was my producer (inaudible) who spoke with him in Spanish because he does not speak English. I was there, and she translated it for us.
This is the father of Grimilda Figueroa. Grimilda was, at one point, we're told, married to Ariel Castro. We're told they have since divorced.
But, you know, these court papers have been coming out, these court documents showing a complaint by Grimilda of physical abuse. Now, these were eventually dropped or dismissed.
But -- and it's not exactly clear why that happened, but there was detail about abuses she suffered. So we wanted to talk to her family because she, Grimilda, has since passed away.
And the father of Grimilda told us that Ariel Castro used to beat up his daughter, beat up -- beat her up, beat up Grimilda. He said that Castro once threw her down the stairs and that her arm was broken. He also talked about a head injury that she sustained as a result of Castro's physical abuse.
The way that that this father described Castro, Wolf, is as a violent man. So I think, you know, that sheds a little bit more light on this.
Also interesting, apparently, the father and his wife used to share a home with Castro and Figueroa when they were married and he said that Castro would not allow them to come up to the second-floor apartment where Castro and his wife lived at the time.
He also said that when Ariel Castro and Grimilda, his wife at this time, moved to that home on Seymour Avenue, that house where the three girls were found, he said that Castro would not let any of the family members go inside the home or even go inside the front door, which is very suspicious, very questionable.
But, again, we're hearing this from the father of Grimilda Figueroa who we are told married at one time and then divorced from Ariel Castro.
BLITZER: All right, we're getting a lot more information on these three suspects, Ariel Castro, Pedro Castro and Onil Castro.
Much more importantly, though, we're learning more about these three women who have now been freed, Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight.
Charles Ramsey is now being called one of the heroes of this rescue. Let's get some more now of Anderson Cooper's one-on-one with the man who helped rescue Amanda Berry.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: So you called 911.
RAMSEY: Sure did.
COOPER: How quickly did police get there?
RAMSEY: You know why they got there so fast, because I said "moron." Because I said, hey, Amanda Berry is right in front of me right now. OK, what's she got on. And I told them, a white tank top, blue sweatpants, nice tennis shoes, a nice, you know, ponytail. And what else? Oh, right, she's panicking, idiot. Put yourself in her shoes. I just said Amanda Berry. That don't ring no damn bells you being a cop and all.
COOPER: Did - but you -- when you first saw her and she said the name Amanda Berry, did it - did it register?
RAMSEY: It didn't - it didn't - no, because I had forgot. Look, bro, this is Cleveland. Since they haven't found that girl -
RAMSEY: And I guess stopped looking for that girl, we figured that girl was -- met her demise.
RAMSEY: So Berry didn't register with me until I was on the phone. It was 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?
RAMSEY: So now that that's going on, and I could have done this last year, not this hero stuff, is do the right thing.
COOPER: Do you feel like a hero?
RAMSEY: No. No, no, no, no.
COOPER: Because a lot of people around here are saying you're a hero.
RAMSEY: No, no, bro, I'm a Christian, and an American, I'm just like you. We bleed the 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 in nobody's business, you've got to put that away for a minute.
COOPER: Because you know how it is. There's a lot of people that turn the other way, keep walking down the street.
RAMSEY: And you (INAUDIBLE) homeless, bro. That's all this is about. It's about the homeless on this planet.
COOPER: Has like the FBI said anything about a reward or anything? Because there was a reward for finding her and stuff.
RAMSEY: I tell you what you do, give it to them. Because if folks been following this case since last night and you've been following me since last night, you know I got a job anyway. Just went and picked it up, paycheck. What does that address say? (INAUDIBLE)
COOPER: I don't have my glasses. I'm blind without them.
RAMSEY: 2203 Seymour. Where was them girls living, right next door to this paycheck. So, yes, take that reward and give it to the -- that little girl came out the house and she was crying and I was looking at her, right? I was like, well, 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 is her daddy? She said, Ariel. COOPER: She said that?
RAMSEY: Yes. I said, well, how's that possible, because you ain't - you wouldn't - and 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: Brother, this would 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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: We're all glad it turned out this way.
Besides whatever law enforcement reward Charles Ramsey may get, donations also are pouring in online. By all accounts, Charles Ramsey a very, very good Samaritan. Thanks from all of our viewers for what you did.
So how did this go on for so many years with so many people and police so close by? Coming up, we're taking a closer look at the punishments that might be handed out in this case.
BLITZER: The three suspects who allegedly held three Ohio women captive for nearly a decade, they are expected to be charged today. Let's bring in defense attorney, CNN legal analyst Joey Jackson for his take on this really, really extraordinary, very bizarre case.
Walk us through, Joey, what we can anticipate today.
JOE JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Sure. You know, what a human interest story, Wolf. I mean, you know, the emotions the family must be going through. But I think what will happen is, is that we're going to see a criminal complaint filed. There's a couple of stages in the criminal process. Multiple stages, actually. And with the criminal complaint, that's where you'll see the charges leveled against them. And I think there will be a wide variety of charges from conspiracy dealing with the agreement that all of them would have had to have engaged in for criminality. There will be issues of aiding and abetting. Certainly we'll see the kidnapping charge. We could see a false imprisonment charge. We could see charges stemming from rape or any type of sexual abuse. And, of course, although those charges are on a criminal complaint, Wolf, I would fully expect at some point in the near future for a grand jury to get the case and certainly amend those charges in any way based upon the investigation and what's uncovered as a result.
BLITZER: I assume that law enforcement has given these three suspects their Miranda rights, including the right to remain silent and right to an attorney, unless they've cited that public safety exception. What's your sense? JACKSON: You know, it's -- generally speaking, it's sort of protocol for law enforcement, once they take you in, to read you those rights. You have a right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you. And so certainly, if they did that, the suspects will be aware that they have the right to remain silent, but certainly they could give any statement anyway. They may want to be inclined to give statements based upon any leverage they think they may have in negotiating.
But, you know, it's -- it will be interesting to know, Wolf, because I think without statements or with statements I certainly think it's a tough case that they would have. We're talking about 10 years of captivity and certainly, you know, maybe you could argue that one's culpability in terms of a brother or suspect may be more than another. But after 10 years, all of them equally, the prosecution's going to argue, they're all culpable. And so whether they give statements or not, whether they gave any statement prior to Miranda, whether it's admissible or not, I think law enforcement and the prosecution has ample evidence, regardless of their self-incrimination, to move forward with a successful prosecution here.
BLITZER: I assume these guys probably don't have any money, so public defenders, lawyers, will be made available to them at taxpayers' expense, right?
JACKSON: Yes, that generally is how it works. Of course with our system, because you do have that right to remain silent and, of course, coming with that right is the right to counsel if you can't afford one, then a public defender is generally appointed to assess the case, evaluate the case and to take you through all those critical stages.
Now, of course, I believe the lawyers who are involved here, it will be a lot of discovery in terms of the information that will be turned over by the prosecution. That would emanate, Wolf, from any investigation that they do, any forensic analysis, any computer analysis. And so there will be a lot to sift and go through. But be clear here, these are very serious charges that carry life sentences as to all of these defendants. So irrespective who the lawyers are, they're going to private counsel or public defender, they're going to have a long road ahead of them with regard to being prepared, ready to successfully defend the charges that these three face.
BLITZER: And I know that law enforcement and the prosecutors, they have a delicate line to walk in asking questions of the three young women who have just been rescued, because you don't want them to relive the trauma immediately. On the other hand, you want to get information. How do they walk that line?
JACKSON: You know, interestingly enough, Wolf, you said it, and it's a very delicate one because on the one hand certainly you want to respect their - the rights of these victims. And, you know, listen, they've been through emotional trauma I'm sure, psychological trauma, the physical trauma could be significant depending upon all the sexual abuse that they may have faced in these years of captivity. But I think you have very experienced professionals who know how to draw out information and do it in an appropriate way and one that respects their rights.
But also, Wolf, I think that these victims here are committed to the notion of justice. You have to be. I mean, if you're in captivity against your will, and certainly I think they're going to be after justice. And to that extent, you know, I think we'll see their full cooperation and we'll see the information that they need gotten out of them by these investigators.
BLITZER: Excellent analysis from Joey Jackson. Joey, thanks very much. We'll check back with you later.
We'll take a quick break. Head back to Cleveland right after this.
BLITZER: This is the pictures coming in from Cleveland. This is outside the home of Gina DeJesus, one of the women who was freed, held captive for a decade. She was reported missing at the age of 14. She's now 23. We hope she's on her way home. You see all the flowers. You see the media camped out. A little while ago, Amanda Berry finally came home as well.
The families of the three women all held captive in Cleveland have been suffering for 10 years not knowing the fate of their loved ones. Now they are celebrating their safe return and they're trying to make up for some lost time. A lot of lost time. Amanda Berry talked to her grandmother yesterday. It was a very emotional phone conversation. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AMANDA BERRY (voice-over): Hello?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): Amanda.
BERRY: Yes, grandma.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. How are you?
BERRY: I'm fine.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm glad to have you back.
BERRY: I know. It's good to be back.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I thought you were gone.
BERRY: Nope, I'm here.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're happy and here for you.
BERRY: Thank you so much. I missed you very much. I love you guys so much.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The little girl is your baby?
BERRY: Yes, she's my daughter. Born on Christmas.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We've got to get together soon.
BERRY: I know it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But I love you, honey. Thank God.
BERRY: I love you too.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I thought about you all this time. I never forgot you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)