Amanda Berry’s sister has addressed the public to ask for privacy as Berry, who has been gone for more than 10 years, gets reacquainted with her family in Cleveland.
“We want to thank the public and media for their support over the years,” Beth Serrano said to a large gathering of reporters outside her Cleveland home.
Police officials had told reporters that Amanda Berry would be making a statement shortly after she arrived at the house, but it was her sister who came out to address the crowd instead.
Holding back tears, Serrano added, “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.”
Berry was able to escape the Cleveland house where she had been held captive since her disappearance at age 17 in 2003. Inside the same home, police found two other missing people: Gina DeJesus who disappeared at age 14 in 2004, and Michele Knight, who went missing at age 20 in 2002.
Berry gave birth to a daughter, Jocelyn, while in captivity, who is now 6 years old. The girls’ accused captor, 52-year-old Ariel Castro, is presumed to be the child’s father. [embedgallery id=146543]
The city in Cleveland rejoiced at news that the girls, who were the focus of intense media coverage after their disappearances, were found alive in good health. They have been reunited with their family members since Monday night, who never believed the girls were dead.
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.
This incredible drama began to unfold Monday night when a neighbor heard Berry’s screams and pleas to be let out of the house. That neighbor, Charles Ramsey, helped kick through the front door, freeing Berry who then made a desperate call to 911. Investigators have since found ropes and chains they believe were used to restrain the girls in the house. They have not found human remains, fueling speculation into whether Castro was involved in other kidnappings.
Berry’s mother died of heart failure two years after her daughter went missing — people close to the family maintain she died of a “broken heart.” She went to her grave convinced her daughter was still alive, despite a reading from a psychic who told her Amanda was dead.
“It tormented her because she knew she was alive, but her heart gave out,” former Cleveland investigative reporter Duane Pohlman recalled to Metro. “There was something different about her mom that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. She was insistent, almost obsessive, that her daughter was still alive, almost to the point of wanting to convince me.”
Amanda Berry’s sister joined her at the hospital after her rescue Monday night. She has also reconnected with her grandmother in Tennessee by phone.
Gina DeJesus was also reunited with her family. Her cousin, Sheila Figaro, said the family never lost hope that Gina would be found one day. The house where the girls were held for more than a decade was just two blocks from DeJesus’ aunt, who lived on the same street.
“There were all those thoughts that race through one’s mind – is she right under your nose? Has she been taken to another country?” Figaro said to Metro. “But, you just never know. To find out she was blocks two away from her own family…”
Follow Cassandra Garrison on Twitter: @CassieAtMetro