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Tue May 7, 2013
FBI Agent: 'Nightmare Is Over' For Kidnapped Women
DAVID GREENE, HOST:
This is MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm David Greene.
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
And I'm Steve Inskeep. This is one of those news stories that leaves your jaw on the floor; an incredible story in Cleveland. Three women who were kidnapped a decade ago have been found alive, in a house not far from where they disappeared.
(SOUNDBITE OF NEWS CONFERENCE)
STEPHEN ANTHONY: For Amanda's family, for Gina's family, for Michelle's family, prayers have finally been answered. The nightmare is over.
INSKEEP: That's Stephen Anthony, special agent in charge of the FBI's Cleveland office, at a news conference that wrapped up earlier this morning. Reporter Brian Bull, of our member station WCPN in Cleveland, was there. Brian, good morning.
BRIAN BULL, BYLINE: Good morning to you, Steve.
INSKEEP: Would you remind us how it is that these women were discovered?
BULL: That's a very remarkable tale of survival, and it was almost completely under the radar until about 6 o'clock last night, when a neighbor on Seymour Avenue - here on Cleveland's west side - was coming back from work, he said. And when he looked over to the neighbor's house, he saw a young woman pleading for help from the front door of the house. And she was trying to get through the door but apparently, it was rigged in such a way that you could only like, slip a few fingers through the crack.
So he ran over, and he began helping her pry off - I believe part of the bottom of the door. It was aluminum, and bent easily. She was then able to crawl out. And she fled to his house, where she immediately called 911 to alert police that she had escaped.
(SOUNDBITE OF 911 CALL)
AMANDA BERRY: Help me, I'm Amanda Berry.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: You need police, fire or ambulance?
BERRY: I need police.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: OK. And what's going on there?
BERRY: I've been kidnapped, and I've been missing for 10 years. And I'm here. I'm free now.
BULL: Police arrived within two minutes, and the owner of the house - Ariel Castro, a 52-year-old bus driver for Cleveland public schools - apparently had fled. But police were able to track him down to a nearby McDonald's.
INSKEEP: You know, I really - the amazing thing, Brian Bull, about that clip is the 911 operator saying, do you need police, fire or ambulance - what do you need when you've just gotten out after a decade of kidnapping? I mean, there's no manual for this. What condition are the women in?
BULL: Remarkably, they're in good health. They were taken to a local hospital, Metro Health Medical. And they were reported all in good condition. One of the local police captains said that they certainly needed a good meal. But for being in captivity - all three of them - for roughly a decade, they were in reasonably good health.
Of course, we don't know yet exactly what these women endured inside of that house for - again, about 10 years; if they underwent any type of torture, or any type of abuse. But at this point, they have been released - as of this morning - back to their families, and their homes, across Cleveland and obviously, taking in a lot of love and support, at this moment.
INSKEEP: And of course, there was a child in the house as well. Who's in custody for this kidnapping?
BULL: Who's in custody? We have the owner of the house, Ariel Castro, as I mentioned earlier. His two brothers have also been taken into custody, Pedro and Onil. The three men remain in custody. Authorities said at today's conference that they will be subjected to interviews and - to find out exactly what was happening within the house and also, the Cleveland authorities are mandated within 36 hours to press changes. So charges have not been yet announced, but they are being worked on.
INSKEEP: Brian, we've just got a few seconds left - 10 or 20 seconds. But you were just listening to this news conference. You've been covering this story for hours. Is there something you learned that gave you new insight in what's been happening here?
Right at this point, they've identified one of the - the child. There was some debate as to whether there was one child or several who fled the house last night. Apparently, it is one child, 6 years old; and the police believe it belongs to Amanda Berry.
OK. Brian, thanks very much.
BULL: You're welcome.
INSKEEP: That's Brian Bull of member station WCPN in Cleveland, telling us about the rescue of three women missing in that city for a decade. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.