To those who have heard her story, Amanda Berry is the girl who disappeared at age 16 on April 21, 2003. She’s the girl who was held captive with two others near downtown Cleveland for about 10 years until she miraculously escaped last week, proclaiming, “I’m free now.”
But who was she before she vanished and was held captive in the home of alleged kidnapper Ariel Castro?
Her cousin, Tina Miller, tells PEOPLE about a girl with Eminem posters hanging in her bedroom and dreams of being a fashion designer. She’s Mandy. She’s hyper-organized, close to her nieces and she loved the movie 8 Mile and its star, Eminem.
In fact, “She had just bought a cell phone before she went missing,” Miller, of Lorain, Ohio, tells PEOPLE of Berry, now 27 and the mother of a 6-year-old daughter.
The Amanda Berry she knew worked at Burger King and did well in school. “She was always so smart,” adds Miller. “Mandy was always in the magnet programs in school. I recall going to her house, and whatever song was playing, Mandy knew.”
Alongside her passion for music, Berry loved clothes as a young girl. “She would wear Tommy Hilfiger and Nautica. It was really big back then,” Miller says. “She refused to cross-contaminate Tommy Hilfiger and Nautica. It was either all Tommy or all Nautica.”
She may have been a “girly girl,” but she was also “a little firecracker,” recalls Miller. “I remember Mandy having a smart mouth.”