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Authorities: 3 women found in captivity said to be in fair condition

7:31 AM, May 7, 2013   |    comments
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by Yamiche Alcindor and Doug Stanglin, USA TODAY

CLEVELAND -- Three middle-aged brothers have been arrested after police, summoned by a frantic 911 call, raided a house in a residential area on Monday and rescued three women who have been missing for as long as a decade.

A hospital physician said all three women -- who had apparently been tied up during their captivity -- were in fair condition and talking with doctors who were evaluating them.

Crowds gathered Monday night on the street near the house where police said Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight were found earlier in the day.

Police said the brothers - ages 50, 52 and 54 - were arrested but did not release their names. Police planned a 9 a.m. ET news conference.

Berry identified one of the men as Ariel Castrol, a 52-year-old Cleveland school bus driver who owns the house where the women were being held. Records show that Castro was arrested for domestic violence in 1993, but that a grand jury declined to indict him, theCleveland Plain Dealerreported

The three women, along with a 6-year-old girl who was also in the house, were rescued by a neighbor, Charles Ramsey, who heard Berry yelling for help.

"I heard screaming," he told WEWS-TV. "I'm eating my McDonald's. I come outside. I see this girl going nuts trying to get out of a house."

Ramsey said the door was only wide enough for a hand to fit through, so they kicked out the bottom and made enough space for her to escape.

Berry, who crawled out along with the 6-year-old girl, said there were other women help captive inside and insisted on calling 911. Police quickly swarmed the house and found the other young women, apparently tied up inside.

"This isn't the ending we usually hear to these stories, so we're very happy," said Gerald Maloney, an emergency room physician at the Cleveland hospital where all three were being treated.

"They are able to speak with us. Beyond that, I can't go into any further details," Maloney said.

Cleveland Police Chief Michael McGrath said he thinks the three women were tied up in the house where they were found and had been there since they disappeared.

Police provided no details of how the women were found but said they appeared to be in good health and had been taken to a hospital.

A recording of a 911 call made Monday was released: "I'm Amanda Berry. ... I've been kidnapped, and I've been missing for 10 years. And I'm here. I'm free now."

She said she had been taken by someone and begged for police officers to arrive at the house on Cleveland's west side before he returned.

Each had gone missing separately. Berry disappeared at age 16 on April 21, 2003, when she called her sister to say she was getting a ride home from her job at a Burger King.

DeJesus went missing at age 14 on her way home from school about a year later. They were found just a few miles from where they had gone missing. Police said Knight went missing in 2002.

Ramsey, the neighbor, said he'd had barbecue with the home's owner and never suspected anything was amiss.

"There was nothing exciting about him - well, until today," he said.

Mayor Frank Jackson expressed gratitude that the three women were found alive.

"We have many unanswered questions regarding this case, and the investigation will be ongoing," he said in a statement.

"I've been praying, never forgot about her, ever," Kayla Rogers, a childhood friend of DeJesus, told The Plain Dealer newspaper. "This is amazing. This is a celebration. I'm so happy. I just want to see her walk out of those doors so I can hug her."

In January, a prison inmate was sentenced to 41/2 years after admitting he provided a false burial tip in the disappearance of Berry.

Police used backhoes to dig up a lot identified by the inmate last year in search of Berry's remains but found nothing.

Berry's mother, Louwana Miller, died in March 2006. She had spent the previous three years looking for her daughter.

Councilwoman Dona Brady said she had spent many hours with Miller, who never gave up hope that her daughter was alive.

"She literally died of a broken heart," Brady said.

Contributing: William M. Welch, USA TODAY; The Associated Press

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