Sheila Figaro: Gina DeJesus’ cousin says missing girl was held two blocks from aunt’s house

Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus.
Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus.

The families of missing Cleveland women Gina DeJesus and Amanda Berry are still processing the fact that their loved ones were found alive after almost 10 years in captivity. Perhaps equally shocking — they were being held in a house not far from where they were abducted in the city.

Still, it goes one step further for the family of Gina DeJesus, who before Monday hadn’t been seen since 2004. The home of suspect Ariel Castro is in the 2200 block of Seymour Avenue — mere blocks away from DeJesus’ aunt’s home in the 3200 block of the same street.

“Last evening, I was in such a state of disbelief,” Sheila Figaro, a cousin of Gina DeJesus, told Metro. “There were all those thoughts that race through one’s mind – is she right under your nose? Has she been taken to another country? But, you just never know. To find out she was blocks two away from her own family…”

DeJesus’ family, just like Berry’s family, clung tightly all these years to the hope that she would still be found alive.

“Our family is very strong in our faith and never once doubted that we would be reunited with her alive,” Figaro said.

Figaro wouldn’t confirm that the family knew Castro, or his two brothers who are also in custody, before Monday, but said DeJesus is overjoyed to be reunited with her family, who rushed to the hospital immediately after hearing the news that she had been found.

“Everybody recognized her, and she recognized everyone,” Figaro said.

In the same house where Berry and DeJesus were held captive, police also found Michele Knight, who went missing from Cleveland in 2002 and the age of 20. A 6-year-old child, believed to be Berry’s daughter, was also found in the home. All of the victims were in good health, according to investigators.

“The three of them are like sisters. I am sure they kept one another alive,” Figaro said.

Figaro said she didn’t believe DeJesus had also given birth in captivity, but couldn’t be certain.

“You have to come to peace with God’s will, but you never give up hope,” Figaro said. ” I just continually prayed for God’s will to be done. I just prayed for closure, good, bad or otherwise. And he answered those prayers.”


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