Amanda Berry, Georgina DeJesus, and Michelle Knight were all kidnapped roughly ten years ago in the Cleveland area and were held captive in a home until yesterday when a neighbor heard Berry screaming for help. NBC's Kristen Dahlgren reports.
It's a story with a happy ending over a decade in the making. A daring escape and a dramatic 911 call led to the rescue of three women who allegedly had been held captive for years inside a home in Cleveland, Ohio. Below is a timeline of events in the case, from before the women first disappeared to their eventual freedom.
2000: Police visit the Cleveland home of the three Castro brothers, who years later would be placed into custody for the kidnappings of Michelle Knight, Amanda Berry, and Georgina "Gina" DeJesus. At the time, police were responding to a call about a fight involving Ariel Castro, one of the brothers, then a bus driver.
Aug. 22, 2002: Michelle Knight, then 21 years old, disappears. She is last seen at a cousin's house in Cleveland, according to Cleveland.com. She is reported missing the following day to police, but some family members believe she may have left on her own because she was angry that she had lost custody of her son, according to Cleveland.com. As a result, her disappearance and her photo are not widely publicized.
April 21, 2003: Amanda Berry calls her sister to tell her she's getting a ride home from her job at a fast food restaurant on the day before her 17th birthday. According to authorities, she got into a white, four-door sedan with three men inside. She doesn't make it home and is reported missing, prompting a huge search involving national publicity.
Nov. 15, 2003: The FBI reveals that a week after Berry vanished, her mom received a phone call from her cellphone. A male voice said, "I have Amanda. She’s fine and will be coming home in a couple of days.” Authorities are unable to determine the authenticity of the call.
January 2004: Police make their second visit in four years to the home of the Castro brothers. Ariel Castro, the bus driver, had been accused of leaving a child on a bus; when authorities knocked on the door, no one answered. They later interviewed him and discovered he had "inadvertently" left the child on the school bus, according to The New York Times. Officials determined there was no criminal intent, and he was not charged.
March 6, 2004: The FBI announces that the body of a teenage girl found near San Diego earlier in the week isn't a match for Berry's dental records.
April 2, 2004: Gina DeJesus, then 14, vanishes while walking home from school in Cleveland. Her case bears striking similarities to Berry's: Both girls disappeared within in the same five-block radius, both girls were about 5'1'', and neither had a history of running away from home.
April 9, 2004: Police looking for DeJesus tell the public they are seeking a Hispanic man driving a light-color, older-model, compact car with a license plate that includes the letters "SMS," driving in the area where DeJesus disappeared from.
November 2004: Berry's case is featured on "America's Most Wanted." The same month, psychic Sylvia Browne appeared on Montel Williams' nationally syndicated TV show alongside Berry's mother, and tells her that her daughter is probably dead.
Oct. 24, 2005: DeJesus' parents, Nancy and Felix, make a national plea on the syndicated program "Maury" to ask for help finding their daughter.
March 2, 2006: Berry's mother, Louwana Miller, dies of heart failure at age 43, nearly three years after she started the search for her daughter. “I want her on the news. She’s faded away from the whole world. It just kills me. This is killing me,” Miller had told a Cleveland Plain Dealer reporter who she often asked to write more about her daughter.
Sept. 21, 2006: Police arrest Matthew Hurayt, a 35-year-old registered sex offender, after receiving a tip that DeJesus' body was buried beneath his garage on Cleveland's West Side. A search of his home yields nothing.
July 6, 2007: Another Cleveland girl, Ashley Summers, 14, disappears without a trace from the same neighborhood as Berry and DeJesus. Her disappearance puts Cleveland on edge, and attracts more media attention than ever to the neighborhood and its unsolved crimes -- even though it isn't clear if there is a connection.
April 2009: FBI says it suspects Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus, and Ashley Summers may have all been kidnapped by one man.
Sept. 8, 2009: Police rule out the possibility that a body found in Wisconsin the previous November is Berry's after DNA tests come back negative.
January 2013: A Cleveland inmate, Robert Wolford, is sentenced to four-and-a-half years for providing a false burial tip in Berry's disappearance, sending authorities to a Cleveland lot in the summer of 2012 to dig for her remains.
May 6, 2013: A neighbor hears a noise coming from the door of the Castro home. Stuck inside, Berry is trying to bust through, "kicking the door and screaming," said the neighbor, Charles Ramsey. "‘I’ve been kidnapped and I’ve been in this house a long time and I want to leave right now,’” Berry said, according to Ramsey, who helps kick the locked door down.
Once the door is open, Ramsey gives Berry his phone so she can call 911. She has a child with her. Police arrest the three Castro brothers: Ariel, 52, Pedro, 54, and O'Neil, 50. The three women inside the home, plus the 6-year-old child, are taken to a hospital. Summers is still missing.
May 7, 2013: The three women are released from the hospital Tuesday morning.
In a press conference, police commend Berry for getting herself and the other women out of the house. "The real hero here is Amanda," said Cleveland Deputy Police Chief Ed Tomba.
As of Tuesday afternoon, no charges had been filed yet against the three suspects.