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Crime Explainers

5 Things to Know About Cleveland’s Kidnapping Survivors – Four Years After Their Escape

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On May 6, 2013, Amanda Berry broke through the boarded front door of a Cleveland home and ran across the street, where she frantically dialed 911.

“Help me. I’m Amanda Berry,” she said. “I’ve been kidnapped and I’ve been missing for 10 years and I’m — I’m here. I’m free now.”

When police arrived to the dilapidated house at 2207 Seymour Avenue, they discovered two more women – Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight — hiding inside the house. (Michelle Knight has since changed her name to Lilly Rose Lee.)

Their captor, Ariel Castro, was eventually caught and sentenced to life in prison, but he killed himself in his cell in 2013.

Here are five things to know about their kidnapping and how the victims are moving on four years later.

1. Lily Rose Lee (Formerly Michelle Knight) Was Held Captive the Longest

Lee disappeared on August 23, 2002. She was 21 years old when she accepted a ride from Ariel Castro. Eight months later, on April 21, Castro abducted Amanda Berry the day before her 17th birthday. On April 2, 2004, Castro abducted Gina DeJesus, who was youngest of the group at 14 years old.

The victims were raped, tortured and chained for nearly a decade.

2. Ariel Castro Hanged Himself in Prison

The day Berry escaped, Castro left the house but forgot to lock the door. Police arrested him as he returned home.

On Aug 1, 2013, Castro, 53, was sentenced to life in prison plus 1,000 years after pleading guilty to 937 criminal counts including kidnapping and rape. A month later, he was found hanging by a bedsheet inside his cell, dead of a suicide.

3. The House on Seymour Avenue was Razed

For 10 years, Castro kept the three women chained inside his house. He raped and tortured them throughout the house, depriving them of food and bathroom facilities.

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A week after Castro was sentenced, a bulldozer razed the house. Before the house was destroyed, Lee visited and released balloons, while members of DeJesus’s family watched. A small crowd applauded throughout the demolition.

4. Amanda Berry Hosts a Missing Persons Segment on the Local News

Berry has always been grateful that people continued searching for her during her disappearance. In an effort to give back to repay that gratitude, she now hosts a 30-second daily news segment on Cleveland’s Fox 8 dedicated to missing people in Northeast Ohio.

“I hope we get [the faces of] missing people out there and get people looking at them a second time, a third time, and looking at their name,” Berry told PEOPLE in an exclusive interview. “It’s kind of the small things that makes a big difference.”

5. Lily Rose Lee is Writing a Second Book

Lee recently announced that she is working on her second book, “Life After Darkness: My Journey to Happiness.” It will publish on May 1, 2018, days before the five-year anniversary of her escape from captivity.

“She has kept a fairly low-profile,” says Georgina Levitt, publishing director for Weinstein Books, which is publishing Lee’s book. “There will be reveals about her new life.”

Lee’s first book, the New York Times bestselling memoir Finding Me, revealed how a troubled childhood helped her cope with some of her darkest days in captivity. Berry and DeJesus wrote a separate New York Times bestselling book, Hope: A Memoir of Survival in Cleveland.