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Cleveland kidnap victims thank supporters, plead for privacy

FBI via Reuters | WKYC

Amanda Marie Berry, Georgina Lynn Dejesus and Michelle Knight are pictured in this combination photograph in undated handout photos.

The three women imprisoned in a Cleveland home for a decade expressed gratitude to the community and requested privacy so they can recover from the ordeal with their families, via a spokesman at a brief press conference Sunday morning.

Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight will not speak with media representatives during the criminal investigation and prosecution of their accused captor, Ariel Castro, according to Jim Wooley, a partner at the Jones Day law firm in Cleveland.

Wooley read brief statements from the three women:

"Thank you so much for everything you're doing and continue to do. I am so happy to be home with my family," read Berry's statement.

"I'm so happy to be home and want to thank everybody for all your prayers. I just want time now to be with my family," read DeJesus' statement.

"Thank you to everyone for your support and good wishes. I am healthy, happy and safe and will reach out to family, friends and supporters in good time," Knight's statement read.

The three women who had been imprisoned in a Cleveland home thanked their supporters in a statement and asked for privacy so they could reconnect with their families. NBC's Ron Allen reports.

Berry and DeJesus were reportedly reunited with their families earlier this week. Knight was released Friday from a hospital where she was getting mental health treatment. It was not clear where she was going after leaving the hospital.

Wooley added that the three victims have “pleaded” for privacy while they reunite with family and recover from their multi-year ordeal.

“You all care greatly about their well-being, so please respect this most basic request,” Wooley said. “Give them the time, the space and the privacy so that they can continue to get stronger.”

Wooley referred further inquiries to Barbara Paynter at Hennes Paynter Communications, a crisis management and public relations firm in Cleveland.

When reached for comment, Paynter said her firm was retained by local officials as part of a wider "team" effort.

The woman's alleged captor, Castro, 52, has been charged with four counts of kidnapping and three counts of rape, and is being held in lieu of an $8 million bail.

Berry, DeJesus, and Knight — along with a 6-year-old daughter born to Berry in captivity — were discovered Monday night after Berry broke through a door and screamed for help.

DNA tests have confirmed that Castro is the father of the 6-year-old girl, the Ohio attorney general said Friday.

Knight, now 32, told investigators that Castro impregnated her at least five times and starved her and pummeled her in the stomach until she miscarried, according to a Cleveland police report.

Castro’s two brothers – Onil, 50, and Pedro, 54– were initially taken into custody on suspicision of involvement but released Thursday after investigators determined there was no evidence against them.

Pedro Castro told CNN Sunday that he would have turned in his brother Ariel if he had known he was behind the women’s disappearances.

NBC News

Jim Wooley, a partner at the Jones Day law firm in Cleveland, spoke at a Sunday morning press conference on behalf of the three kidnapping victims.