Gina DeJesus’ mother thanks doubters: ‘They made me stronger’
Gina DeJesus, one of three missing women rescued from captivity Monday, has returned to her family’s Cleveland home amidst an outpouring of support from the community. The crowd gathered outside her family’s home erupted in cheers as Gina, wearing a yellow hooded sweatshirt, emerged from a minivan and was quickly ushered into the house. Her family members embraced each other in jubilation after her arrival.
“I want to thank everybody that believed,” DeJesus’ mother said to the crowd. “Even the ones that doubted, I want to thank them the most – they’re the ones that made me stronger.”
DeJesus disappeared from her Cleveland neighborhood in 2004 at age 14, just one year after 17-year-old Amanda Berry was abducted from the same area. She was last seen using a pay phone on her way home from school. The house where she was held captive with Berry and Michele Knight, another missing woman, was just two blocks on Seymour Ave. from DeJesus’ aunt’s home on the same street. The women were found by police after a neighbor helped Berry break free from the front door and call 911 Monday evening.
DeJesus, now 23, was reunited with her family Monday night, which never lost hope that Gina was still alive.
“Our family is very strong in our faith and never once doubted that we would be reunited with her alive,” Figaro told Metro Tuesday.
DeJesus, Berry, Berry’s 6-year-old daughter and Knight were all in good health.
“Everybody recognized her, and she recognized everyone,” Figaro said of DeJesus after seeing her for the first time in almost ten years.
“[Monday] 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…
52-year-old Ariel Castro and his brothers, Pedro Castro, 54, and Onil Castro, 50, were taken into custody Monday. They are expected to be charged Wednesday, police said. Investigators have found chains and ropes in the house believed to have been used to restrain the women. No human remains have been found in the house, police said. There is no evidence yet that Castro was involved in other kidnappings.
Earlier Wednesday, Amanda Berry arrived with her 6-year-old daughter, Jocelyn, to her sister’s Cleveland home. Her sister, Beth Serrano, addressed a frenzied crowd of reporters, asking for privacy as their family tried to recover.
“We want to thank the public and media for their support over the years,” Serrano said. “Our family would request privacy so my sister, niece and I have time to recover. Please respect our privacy until we are ready to make our statements.”
Follow Cassandra Garrison on Twitter: @CassieAtMetro