Cleveland women held captive have long-term injuries: sources

Amanda Marie Berry (L) and Georgina Lynn Dejesus are pictured in this combination photograph in undated handout photos released by the FBI. REUTERS/FBI/Handout via Reuters
Amanda Marie Berry (L) and Georgina Lynn Dejesus are pictured in this combination photograph in undated handout photos released by the FBI. REUTERS/FBI/Handout via Reuters

Two of the women held captive in a Cleveland house in conditions described as similar to a prisoner of war camp suffered from severe malnutrition and will require long-term therapy for injuries such as hearing loss and joint and muscle damage, two sources with direct knowledge said.

The basement where the women were held had chains coming from the wall, and dog leashes attached to the ceiling, the sources said. The women were restrained with them and duct tape in “stress positions” for long periods that left them with bed sores and other injuries, according to two sources with direct knowledge of the investigation, who asked not to be identified.

Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight were in worse condition than Amanda Berry when they emerged from at least nine years in captivity at the home of Ariel Castro, accused of kidnapping and raping the women. Castro appeared to treat Berry better than the other two, the sources said.

“There is a reason why you have only seen a picture of Amanda (Berry),” said one of the sources, referring to the condition of DeJesus and Knight.

Berry, who broke down a door to freedom a week ago with the help of a neighbor, and then told police of the other women, was photographed smiling immediately after the dramatic rescue. Berry has a six-year-old daughter fathered by Castro in captivity.

In contrast, DeJesus wore a hooded sweat-shirt covering her head when she first went home last week, and Knight was hospitalized for days, and has stayed out of public view.

The sources said DeJesus and Knight were gaunt and had closely cropped hair when they were freed.

One of the sources, who has been in the house, said the basement had chains coming from the walls and “dog leashes attached to the ceiling.” Knight and DeJesus told police they spent extensive time in the basement. A second source corroborated the details.

“One of the girls has difficulty moving her head around from being chained up,” said one of the sources. The second source identified DeJesus as the woman suffering this injury.

“It was like they were POWs (prisoners of war). They had bed sores from being left in positions for extended lengths of time,” a source said.

All the bedroom doors in the house had padlocks on the outside and the rooms were spare with only a mattress on the floor. Their movement through the house was very restricted, the women have told authorities.

“If he left for long periods of time he would sometimes duct tape-up the women over all parts of their faces, even their eyes, only leaving an opening so they could breathe. Then he would just rip it off pulling off skin and hair,” one of the sources said.

A police report said Knight was starved for weeks at a time and punched in the stomach to induce several miscarriages. A county prosecutor intends to file fetal homicide charges against Castro in connection with the miscarriages.

The women, especially DeJesus and Knight, were now exhibiting signs of malnutrition as Castro used food as a means to torment them, one of the sources said.

“He would bring food to one or two of the girls and made the others watch as they or he would eat in front of them,” the source said.

Knight and DeJesus would sneak food to each other, this source said.

Castro generally kept one woman upstairs and the other two – usually Knight and DeJesus – in the basement, the source said.

Despite their ordeal, a Cleveland city council member stressed that the women are reveling in their freedom.

“They are doing well, doing very well. They are thriving and enjoying their freedom,” City Councilman Brian Cummins said on Monday.

The sources asked to be anonymous because they were not authorized to speak on the record. They were discussing some of the details of the captivity because they felt tight information control had left the impression that authorities ignored calls and reports about Castro’s house that could have freed the women sooner.

Cleveland Police Chief Michael McGrath on Monday issued a statement defending the police department’s policy of restricting information on the crimes.

“The disclosure of sensitive information and details of these horrendous crimes only further victimize three young women. The criticism of law enforcement efforts is disheartening. The dissemination of misinformation erodes the critical relationship between law enforcement and community,” McGrath said.

Little is known about the relationship among the three women. Knight, who is now 32, Berry, 27 and DeJesus, 23, have not spoken publicly.

Psychologists say the women, who did not know each other before they were abducted, likely formed a bond that may have been strengthened by the young girl born during their captivity.

Knight delivered Berry’s daughter in a plastic children’s swimming pool and gave the baby mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, the police report said.

“The closest parallel would be prisoners of war,” Sherry Hamby, a psychology professor at the University of South, Sewanee, said of the girl’s possible relationship.

Berry and DeJesus, along with Berry’s daughter, have since been reunited with their families. Knight, who is estranged from some of her family members, according to her grandmother, has gone into seclusion.

Terri Weaver, a professor of psychology at the St. Louis University, said although it remains unclear how regularly they interacted, the girls were likely helped by each other’s presence.

“Having someone who has been a witness to those intimate details can really forge a powerful bond because there is a shared understanding,” she said.

It is unclear how the women’s relationship may develop as they put their lives back together.

Psychologists said that as people who have suffered traumatic experiences rebuild their lives, the bond is frequently maintained.

Other times, victims feel the best way to move forward is to put the whole period and those involved behind them.

 



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Gunther from 'Friends' talks Central Perk

We spoke with Gunther (James Michael Tyler) at the preview for new pop-up Central Perk, based on the cafe in "Friends."

Local

Central Perk opens in SoHo

Central Perk, of "Friends" fame, is giving out free coffee in SoHo through Oct. 18.

National

Beer sponsor Anheuser-Busch reproaches NFL over domestic abuse

Anheuser-Busch chastised the NFL for its handling of domestic violence cases, making it the first major advertiser to put pressure on the league.

Local

Sen. Krueger dishes on prospect of legal marijuana…

New Yorkers may see the legalization of recreational marijuana use as early as 2015 if State Senator Liz Krueger (D) gets her way. The Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act will…

Music

FREEMAN makes Freeman a free man from Ween

For nearly 30 years, Aaron Freeman was known endearingly to his listeners as Gene Ween. But with "FREEMAN," he makes it clear that he's gone somewhere else.

Television

'Outlander' recap: Season 1, Episode 6: 'The Garrison…

Whipping, punching, kicking and a marriage contract. "Outlander" is not for the faint of heart this week with "The Garrison Commander."

The Word

The Word: Hey girl, it's a girl for…

It's a girl for Ryan Gosling and Eva Mendes, who reportedly welcomed a daughter last Friday, according to Us Weekly. The super-private couple managed to…

Television

TV watch list, Tuesday, Sept. 16: 'New Girl,'…

Check out the season premiere of "New Girl," as Jess competes with Jessica Biel for a guy's attentions.

MLB

5 top contenders for NL Rookie of the…

The outing rekindled award talk for deGrom, who appears to hold the top spot for NL Rookie of the Year honors. Metro breaks down a few other contenders.

College

College football Top 25 poll (AP rankings)

College football Top 25 poll (AP rankings)

NFL

Tom Coughlin says Giants 'beat themselves' against Cardinals

Head coach Tom Coughlin, who had a day to cool off and reflect, still sounded like he had a gnawing feeling in his gut.

NFL

Marty Mornhinweg accepts blame for Jets timeout fiasco

Jets fans looking for a scapegoat for Sunday’s timeout fiasco found a willing party on Monday: Marty Mornhinweg.

Style

Rachel Zoe: New York Fashion Week Spring 15

Rachel Zoe goes 'Glam bohemia' for Spring.

Food

Where to find SweeTango apples

Introduced in 2009, SweeTango — a hybrid of Honeycrisp and Zestar — is a sweet apple with plenty of crunch.

Style

London Fashion Week recap

London Fashion week gets in on the action with politics, heritage and summertime living.

Food

Padma Lakshmi's recipe for green mango curry

Padma Lakshmi shares her recipe for green mango curry in UNICEF's new book, "UNICHEF."