The voices of the Cleveland kidnapping survivors have finally been heard, as they reached out on Mother’s Day through a spokesman for all three to recognize the efforts of law enforcement and the support of loved ones.
Amanda Berry said in a statement, “Thank you so much for everything you’re doing and continue to do. I am so happy to be home with my family.”
While Gina DeJesus said, “I’m so happy to be home. I want to thank everyone for all your prayers. I just want time now to be with my family.”
And Michelle Knight, whose whereabout is currently unknown, said: “Thank you to everyone for your support and good wishes. I am healthy, happy and safe, and will reach out to family, friends and supporters in good time.”
The three women have returned from their captivity to starkly different welcomes.
Berry’s family maintains a protective, quiet cocoon around the home of Amanda’s sister Beth Berry Serrano, where Amanda is staying; her mother died while Amanda was held captive.
Sixty blocks away on Cleveland’s west side, DeJesus’s parents – who held a backyard celebration for relatives and close friends within view of neighbors and the media after she arrived at the house by police motorcade on Wednesday – have displayed a boisterous, open-arms embrace, even while DeJesus has remained shielded indoors.
Michelle Knight, meanwhile, spent much of the past week in the hospital and has kept her family of immediate and distant relatives at bay since she was freed on Monday evening. Her release may have been the first confirmation that many in her family even knew she was missing, believing instead that she took off on her own at age 20 after losing her 2-year-old son in a custody dispute. That son, Joey, is believed to be in foster care, according to several family members, who are still reaching out in hopes of re-connecting with Michelle.
Their Mother’s Day statements released Sunday may be the only words the young women will share publicly for a while.
“There is a pending criminal investigation and prosecution,” says the spokesman. “Miss Berry, Miss DeJesus and Miss Knight are victim witnesses in that proceeding, and it is not in the best interest of anyone connected with that proceeding for Miss Berry, Miss DeJesus and Miss Knight to be making statements to the media while that proceeding is pending.”
“Most importantly, Miss Berry, Miss DeJesus and Miss Knight have asked – in fact have pleaded – for privacy at this time so they can continue to heal and reconnect with their families and their lives.”