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Charges Being Considered; Castro's Daughter Speaks; Criminal Probe into Texas Factory Blast; A Look At Gina DeJesus
Aired May 10, 2013 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Right now, we're learning more shocking details about what transpired in Cleveland. DNA tests confirm that Amanda Berry gave birth to Ariel Castro's baby. The Ohio attorney general's office says the tests show the man accused of kidnapping her and raping her, that he is the father. Castro's grown daughter is telling CNN about the times she was with him in the home, unknowingly just feet from his alleged victims.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANGIE GREGG, KIDNAPPING SUSPECT'S DAUGHTER: Ever since my mom lived in that house, the basement was always kept locked. I've never been upstairs in the house. And I never had reason to be. I asked him if I could see my room for old time's sake and he says, oh, honey, there's so much junk up there, you don't want to go up there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Castro's mother saying she's ashamed by what her son is accused of doing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LILLIAN RODRIGUEZ, ARIEL CASTRO'S MOTHER (through translator): I have a sick son who's done something serious. I'm suffering very much. I ask for forgiveness from those mothers. May those girls forgive me. I suffer the pain they suffered. I'm suffering for my son's pain. My son is sick and I have nothing to do with what my son did.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Again, DNA tests confirm that Amanda Berry's child is -- was fathered by Ariel Castro.
No doubt the first days of freedom for the survivors have been filled with joy. Their ordeal is over. But we're getting more hints of how they're haunted by it. Gina DeJesus' mother told ABC News that the family slept as a group with Gina in the living room because she did not want to go to a room upstairs, as she had for the previous nine years.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NANCY RUIZ, MOTHER OF GINA DEJESUS: The one thing she did say, she says, mom, I don't want to stay in a room. So I said, you don't have to anymore. So that's part of the process, part of her healing and knowing that she now can do what she wants.
DAVID MUIR, ABC NEWS: She said she doesn't want to stay in a room?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Nancy Ruiz also gave more insight on the ties between her family and the kidnapping suspect, Ariel Castro. Gina's mother told ABC News she knows Ariel Castro and came across him multiple times in the years after Gina went missing. Ruiz said he would ask her how she's doing, even as he allegedly kept her daughter as a sex slave. You'll hear more from Ruiz's interview in just a few minutes.
Let's bring in Susan Candiotti. She's been following this story.
Susan, tell us about the aggravated murder charges and how that relates to what Michelle Knight went through.
SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Jake.
The prosecutor is considering whether to file aggravated murder charges based on the statements that were said to have been made by Michelle Knight in part. CNN obtained that initial police report in which Michelle Knight, a victim in this case, tells a horrifying story about being pregnant, she said, at least five times, raped by Ariel Castro. And each time she said she became pregnant, he starved her, she said, for at least two weeks. And even worse, he then punched her in the stomach several times with each pregnancy in order that she would miscarry. And it is on that basis that the prosecutor is apparently considering whether to file aggravated murder charges.
And, of course, Jake, it could be a difficult charge to prove, only because they don't have forensic evidence, of course, after such a long period of time. On the other hand, they do have very strong eyewitness testimony from Michelle Knight herself, as well as possibly the two other young women in this case. So, that's what's being discussed. That's what's being considered.
TAPPER: And, Susan, attorney general of Ohio, Mike DeWine, earlier today, indicated that the father of Amanda Berry's child, according to DNA, is Ariel Castro. Has the FBI linked him to any other cases?
CANDIOTTI: Well, not as yet. But from what we understand, the attorney general in Ohio, Mike DeWine, is telling us that they are still comparing DNA taken from Ariel Castro and comparing it with the entire national database of DNA to see whether he can be linked to any other unsolved crimes. They already have checked him against unsolved cases, open cases in Ohio, but they haven't found any links there, Jake.
TAPPER: Susan Candiotti, thank you so much.
And now I want to go to another location in Cleveland where Brooke Baldwin is there and her satellite seems to be working. Brooke, can you hear me? I'm going to hand the show over to you if you can hear me.
BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Hey, Jake, I've got you. Yes, it's what happens when live TV happens and a storm blows through here in Cleveland. But I'm here. Good to see all of you. I'm Brooke Baldwin, here in Cleveland.
Let me pick up where you left off, talking here about the daughter of the man accused of enslaving these three women for nearly a decade in this home on Seymour Avenue. She says his oddities over the years now make sense. Her name is Angie Gregg. She says she now understands why her father, Ariel Castro, would never, ever want to leave Cleveland, to leave this home here, for longer than a day to see her or even her kids when they lived out of state. This is just one of so many revelations from Gregg and this incredibly compelling interview. She talked exclusively with CNN's Laurie Segall.
ANGIE GREGG, KIDNAPPING SUSPECT'S DAUGHTER: My husband and I are in complete disbelief that the friendly, caring, doting man I knew as my daddy was in fact the most evil, vile, demonic criminal that I have met or heard of. Over the past 10 years --
LAURIE SEGALL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is part of a letter that Angie Gregg wrote after learning her father was allegedly behind the brutal kidnappings in Cleveland, Ohio. Now she's speaking out.
GREGG: And to go to the vigils, to show these girls a footage of their parents' pleas for their return, to rape, starve and beat innocent human beings, I'm disgusted.
SEGALL (on camera): You've learned that your father wasn't the guy you thought he was.
SEGALL: What is that like?
GREGG: It's - it's like a horror movie. It's like watching a bad movie.
SEGALL: Only you're in it?
GREGG: It's -- only we're in it. We're, you know, the main characters. And I never suspected anything was going on, but the more I sit and dwell on it, I think of things that make a whole lot of sense now.
SEGALL: You look back and you say, OK, you can piece together -- you're beginning to piece together a puzzle. Where were the signs?
GREGG: Well, he never wanted to leave the house more than a day at a time. He was adamant in the fact that he wanted to leave home early morning and he had to be back by evening. SEGALL: Were there certain areas in the home that were just off limits?
GREGG: Ever since my mom lived in that house, the basement was always kept locked. I've never been upstairs in the house and I never had reason to be. I asked him if I could see my room for old time's sake, and he says, oh, honey, there's so much junk up there, you don't want to go up there.
SEGALL: When you think about, you know, what might have been, what was behind those doors, how do you -- how do you cope with that?
GREGG: I mean, it all makes sense now. Now I know. It's hard. But I have - I have no sympathy for the man. I have no sympathy. He was just another - another person who's lied and deceived and manipulated people and I could never forgive him. I could never forgive him. If you would have asked me this last week, I would have told you he's the best dad and the best grandpa.
SEGALL (voice-over): One thing she did suspect is that her father might have had another child. A child we now know is her half-sister, conceived with one of the women he allegedly held captive.
GREGG: He showed me a picture that was in his cell phone, randomly, and he said, look at this cute little girl. It was a face shot. And I said, she's cute, who is that, you know? And he said, this is my girlfriend's child. And I said, dad, that girl looks like Emily. Emily is my younger sister. And said, no, that's not my child. That's my girlfriend's child by somebody else.
SEGALL: Angie says she was always close with her father, but she says she witnessed abuse in their home.
GREGG: He was pretty jealous. He was always saying that my mom was, you know, messing with certain neighbors, things like that. And I've seen -- I've seen him basically stomp on her like she was a man. Like he's beat her pretty bad several times.
SEGALL: Her mother passed away from cancer-related complications in 2012.
GREGG: I've lost my mother. Now I've lost a father. But I don't - I don't cry for him.
SEGALL (on camera): So if you had a message for him, what would it be?
GREGG: All this time, why? Why? I don't even know what to say. Why after all this time? Why did you do it in the first place? Why did you take these girls and why did you never leave? And why did you never -- why did you never feel guilty enough to let them go?
SEGALL: What message do you have for these women and their families?
GREGG: I feel so much sorrow that you had to endure this. I'm glad that you're back home with your family, finally, because they never stopped thinking about you. They never stopped -- they never forgot you. You know, right now, these girls need to heal.
SEGALL: Do you feel that you're going to need to heal too?
GREGG: I'll be fine. I wasn't submitted to the horror that they were.
SEGALL: In a day, you've lost -- you've lost the man that raised you. That must be hard.
GREGG: He's nothing but a memory anymore. He can never be daddy again.
BALDWIN: And Laurie Segall joins me now.
First, just in cases like these, I know that so many reporters try to talk to these family members and so it was you who she chose to talk to. Did she explain the moment that she found out that it was her father who was accused of doing these horrible things to these women?
SEGALL: She did. A she's got a compelling story. She said she got this call and someone said, these girls have been freed and everyone in this community, they've wanted to know - they've been waiting for this call for ages.
SEGALL: And then she got another call and they said, hey, your father's block, it's - there's tape on it. It's blocked off. It happened there. And so she was -- she was thinking, I wonder who it could have been. She got 20 calls, one was her husband. He said, your father's - your father's place is taped off. And let me -- she said, I just wanted to melt to the floor. I wanted to die. Her whole reality, obviously, shifted in that moment.
BALDWIN: I want to just take you back to -- there are so many - so many parts of this interview where you just think, wow. And it was specifically where -- to think that these three women and a child lived in this home and that he would turn the music up loud when this daughter would come over, who knows how many visitors he had over the course of this decade and who knows what he told these young women when he would have visitors, but that never really struck her as odd.
SEGALL: And how -- she was closer than -- closer than some of her other sisters. And she was at this home quite a bit. And she said, you know, sometimes he would take a long time to come to the door and he'd - and he would put the music up. And the basement was always locked. But she didn't begin to put together the pieces until she heard this --
BALDWIN: Why would she?
SEGALL: Why would you. And it's the idea that it was - it's horrific. Obviously this is horrific. But for her to say, I had no idea that this was happening in the home. She was here a couple of months ago listening to music with him, having a meal, and she had absolutely no idea of the terror happening on the street, in this home, that she's been in so often.
BALDWIN: Laurie Segall, great reporting, great interview. Thank you so much.
SEGALL: Thank you.
BALDWIN: We'll share a little bit more of Laurie's interview throughout the course of the next two hours here.
Coming up, though, it's another story we've been following on CNN, where there is this new twist in the investigation of that deadly explosion from just a couple of weeks ago at that Texas fertilizer plant in West, Texas. It is now a criminal probe. But, listen to this. This news comes today as police are arresting a first responder in the area. Could there be a link? We'll look into it coming up.
BALDWIN: Welcome back here live to Cleveland for special CNN coverage of the kidnapping investigation here. I'm Brooke Baldwin.
But first, a new twist in a story we have been following for you for weeks. Last month's deadly blast at this Texas fertilizer plant is now being investigated as a possible crime. The criminal investigation comes after four other potential causes for that massive explosion, they were ruled out. You remember this story, 14 people were killed, many of them first responders themselves. You see the video of the aftermath. Home after home after home just obliterated when that blast rocked this small town of West, Texas. And many of those, as I mentioned, who died, they were volunteer firefighters. And I want to bring in Alina Machado for more on this investigation here and this arrest.
Alina, why is the blast now being investigated as a possible crime?
ALINA MACHADO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brooke, that's a question we've been asking all afternoon, but so far authorities remain tight lipped. The launch of this criminal probe was announced just a few hours ago. Earlier this week, investigators said they had ruled out four potential causes, including weather and natural causes.
Now, it's been more than three weeks since the explosion rocked West, Texas, killing more than a dozen people. A fire broke out at the plant about 20 minutes before the blast and most of the people who died were first responders who had rushed to the scene because of that fire.
Now, we want to share with you a statement we got from the director of the Texas Department of Public Safety. It says in part, "this disaster has severely impacted the community of West and we want to ensure that no stone goes unturned and that all the facts related to this incident are uncovered."
BALDWIN: So, Alina, we have learned that a volunteer first responder was arrested in the wee hours this morning, 2:40 a.m. Central Time. Do you know why this person was taken into custody and if this arrest is at all linked to that criminal investigation you talk about?
MACHADO: Well, Brooke, the man you're referring to is Bryce Reed. He was arrested for possession of a destructive device and is in custody of the U.S. marshals. However, it is worth noting that authorities are not linking this arrest to the criminal probe of the plant explosion.
BALDWIN: Alina Machado, we'll keep following up with you on the investigation here. Appreciate your reporting on West, Texas.
Breaking news on CNN right now. A fast moving story is happening in Missouri as authorities are searching for three prisoners who escaped from the Lansing Correctional Facility in Kansas. Our affiliate KCTV reports officers have now surrounded a home and believe the men are inside.
Take a good look at this. These are the men. Authorities say they are armed. They range in age from 31 to 57. Obviously we're making calls on this and we're digging on what's happening here in Kansas. Stay with us. As soon as we get more information, we'll pass it along to you. Breaking news on CNN.
We have also learned today that the body of Boston bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev is buried in a Muslim cemetery in Virginia. Police had kept that information very, very quiet after Tsarnaev's body was moved out of Worcester, Massachusetts. The city, we've been reporting for weeks, has struggled to try to find someone to offer land to bury Tsarnaev. Several cemeteries, as you know, said no. They refused. But after a week long search, police say a Virginia woman, very quietly, coordinated efforts to resolve the problem.
Back here in Cleveland, we will talk with a woman who reported on Gina DeJesus' missing persons case back since 2004. She has basically become a family member now. An unofficial family member of the DeJesus family. We talked with her yesterday. She just sat down with Gina after she returned home.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was -- it was unbelievable. My hands were sweating because here's someone I never imagined would come back to us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: Welcome back to our live coverage here in Cleveland. I'm Brooke Baldwin.
And, you know, perhaps the most complicated part of this unfolding story right here in Ohio is that six-year-old girl, seen here after escaping from this home behind me on Seymour Avenue. She escaped, as you know, with her mother. And now I can tell you that DNA tests have in fact confirmed that Amanda Berry gave birth to Ariel Castro's baby. The Ohio attorney general's office says that the tests show the man accused of kidnapping her and raping her is the father of the child. Another of Castro's alleged victims, Michelle Knight, has just been released from the hospital. So that's some positive news to report to you this Friday. A statement from the hospital indicates that she is thankful to everyone for their support, but, as all these families are, they are asking for her privacy.
Meantime, we're learning that Knight was removed from a federal missing persons database years ago. Why? Because police could not confirm with her family or friends that she was still missing. And today, this statement from the hospital. Quote, "Michelle Knight is in good spirits and would like the community to know that she is extremely grateful for the outpouring of flowers and gifts."
And then there is Gina DeJesus. After nearly a decade locked away, she wants the world to know that she is not quite ready to face it yet. Gina is back home with her family. They have actually put up a tarp in the backyard of their home just so that Gina could enjoy the sun on her face, while avoiding the prying eyes of the news media and the helicopters swirling up above. They want their privacy. Understandably so. The world may have only seen her thumb. Look at this picture. I love this. But a close friend of the DeJesus family has seen Gina, did sit down with Gina just yesterday. She is Lydia Esparra. She is a family friend, a journalist here at WOIO in Cleveland. So thanks for coming back and talking to me.
LYDIA ESPARRA, WEEKEND ANCHOR, WOIO: Oh, you're welcome, Brooke.
BALDWIN: I enjoyed our conversation so much yesterday. And let me just pick up with -- so you sat down with Gina. The revelations, a lot of people were talking, is the fact that she lost her ability to communicate with her mother in her mother tongue in Spanish. The fact that she had a missing person flyer in the basement, which I want to get to. But first, you talked to her father this morning. How is she doing?
ESPARRA: I talked -- she's doing great. First of all, he said she had a rough night because I think it's, you know, day one, you have jubilation. Day two, then it's kind of -- you're absorbing everything around you. So she was tired. I think it was just too much for her. But he said she had a really good night's sleep and she woke up and she's fine. And the neat thing about this family is, they get it. They get it.
BALDWIN: How do you mean? What do they get?
ESPARRA: They - it's not like, my daughter's back and our life continues. They know she left as a 14-year-old and now she's -- she's a woman. She's 23. And when she says, I need my space, they give her her space. If she needs time to herself, they get it.
You mentioned that blue tarp. They put that up so she can come in and out as she pleases. So it was for privacy too, but she's been locked up for nine years. And so when I was there yesterday, she never went outside, she stayed inside, but she at least has the ability to come in and out as she pleases.
BALDWIN: How does she feel about that freedom, about being able to go outside?
ESPARRA: I didn't talk to her much about that, about the freedom of going outside. It was like I was a regular person coming in the house because she knows I'm friends of the family. And I said hi to the parents and I'm like, oh, where's Gina? And they're like, oh, she's in the house, Lydia. I just walked in, oh, hi, Gina. She goes, oh, hi, Lydia, I saw you on TV. And --
BALDWIN: Because she - let me just tell everyone, if you didn't know, because she, Gina, having been in this home, held as a prisoner, recognized you because she was allowed to watch television of her missing person reports and saw you covering her story from this home.
ESPARRA: I'm not quite sure if it was me. I know Amanda was watching it.
BALDWIN: Amanda was watching it.
ESPARRA: But her parents told her about me and then she looked at videos of me and so now she seems familiar.
BALDWIN: Now she knows you.
ESPARRA: It was different from the first day to the second and I was telling Felix, I'm like, she smiles at me today. He just starts laughing. And it was - I just walked in, oh, hi, Gina. We talked. I gave her the "People" magazine. And then I walked back out and just kind of hung out with the family for a little bit, just like nothing. It was awesome. It was good to see her like that.
BALDWIN: Good. Show me what you've brought, because I know you have been covering this story for nine years. You always had mementos of Gina on your desk.
ESPARRA: I had mementos. And I did talk to Gina about this. I don't know which camera you want me to take. So -
BALDWIN: Whichever one.
ESPARRA: So, they used to pass out these mementos at the vigil. So I would keep them on my desk. So that's what the composite of her looks like. She looks nothing like that. Her hair is shorter. She's thinner. Now, interesting, this is the composite of the suspect.
BALDWIN: Look at that.
ESPARRA: I mean anybody can make up their own mind whether or not it looks like him or not. So here's another one. This one I collected also. And so interesting, people would stop by my desk and say -- who didn't know this story, oh, who is that? I'm like, oh, that's Gina. Well, she's probably dead, you should throw that away. And I'm like, I'm not throwing it away. Obviously I didn't. I still have it.
BALDWIN: You never threw it away.
ESPARRA: Right. BALDWIN: You kept - let me show, you kept all these missing person flyers for - here's Amanda Berry, and then --
ESPARRA: This is like another one that was missing and I kept it just in case someone would show up. This is the interesting one because Gina's parents are such amazing people. They put out these flyers. Obviously that's Gina right there. Looks nothing like that again, nothing. And then here is Amanda. And you've seen pictures of Amanda. Doesn't look like it.
ESPARRA: They felt so responsible for Amanda as well as Gina. They're just so amazing, amazing that they consider these other two girls part of their family.
BALDWIN: Do you know how Gina -- did the father, Felix, say to you this morning how she's spending her time?
ESPARRA: He didn't say how she's spending her time, but I could see how she's spending her time. She's just relaxing with her family. Very interesting because her brother Ricky is there and her sister and then the two kids, you know, Mayra and the two girls. And it's like they were never apart. Everybody's so relaxed. It's not - it's not an awkward situation. It's very comfortable, very loving, very warm, very understanding. And then she'll say things to Mayra. Mayra, remember when I did this, this, this. And she's like, oh, yes, but that's over now. And so it's a real cool thing to see.
BALDWIN: It's wonderful. And her siblings, I'm sure, are just overjoyed.
ESPARRA: They're just so happy.
BALDWIN: And the first Mother's Day. You told me that her mother hasn't celebrated Mother's Day in nine years, ever since her little girl --
ESPARRA: In nine years. I asked Felix this morning, what are you going to do for Mother's Day, what are you getting - what are you getting Nancy? He's like, I don't know, Lydia. I'm like, what do you mean you don't know? He's like, I haven't given her anything in nine years. And I just - I have to admit, I started crying. I'm like, oh, Felix, I'm such a baby. I just started crying on the phone. And he's, like, but this year's going to be different. This year's going to be different.
BALDWIN: We have some sound. This is sound from Gina's mom, Nancy. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID MUIR, ABC NEWS: You would see him and he would say, how are you doing?
NANCY RUIZ, GINA DEJESUS' MOTHER:: Yes.
MUIR: Like nothing was wrong?
MUIR: That's chilling.
RUIZ: It is.
MUIR: All the while he had your daughter.
RUIZ: Yes. You know how many times I've been through that streets. I pass by that street. I have a sister who's two blocks and a half away from there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: Wow. So the mother speaking out.