Cleveland Kidnapping Survivors: Where Are They Now?
It has been six years since Amanda Berry miraculously escaped from a boarded-up Cleveland home and called 911
Editor’s Note: This story was originally published on May 6, 2018, the five-year anniversary of the rescue of Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight from a Cleveland home where they’d been held captive for more than a decade.
Inside the dilapidated home, the trio was chained, tortured and raped by Ariel Castro, who later died by suicide after being sentenced for his crimes. Monday marks the six-year anniversary of the victims’ escape.
It has been five years since Amanda Berry miraculously escaped from a boarded-up Cleveland home and called 911.
“Help me. I’m Amanda Berry,” she told the dispatcher. “I’ve been kidnapped and missing for 10 years. I am here. I am free now.”
Within minutes, Cleveland Police discovered Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight, who had been chained, tortured and abused along with Berry for a decade. Their captor, Ariel Castro, was convicted for kidnapping and raping the three women and sentenced to life in prison. (He died by suicide a month after he was sentenced.)
Since then, the three women have gone their separate ways and continue to heal from the decade-long trauma.
On Tuesday, Knight — 37 years-old and now going by the name Lillian Rose Lee — released her second memoir, Life After Darkness. Her first memoir, Finding Me, was a New York Times bestseller. In her new book, she opens up about her trauma, depression and relationships.
“The whole world had heard the story of how I had been damaged by a filthy older man,” she wrote in her book, excerpted exclusively in this week’s issue of PEOPLE. “Who would ever want me after that?”
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But through mutual friends on Facebook, she eventually found love and married Miguel Rodriguez, a medical courier, on May 6, 2016 — the third anniversary of Knight’s freedom from Castro’s house.
For now, she travels around the world as a public speaker and recently launched her foundation Lily’s Ray of Hope, which supports women and girls who are victims of domestic violence, human trafficking and child abuse. She partnered with specialty coffee maker 3-19 Co. to showcase her artwork and raise money for her foundation, which will eventually provide resources so women can restart their lives.
Meanwhile, Berry, now 32, has turned her attention toward spotlighting missing people in Northeast Ohio. When she was inside captor Ariel Castro‘s home, he would let her see news segments of people searching for her.
Berry is hosting a 30-second daily news segment on Cleveland’s Fox 8 because she wants missing people to know the public is still looking for them.
“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 last year. “It’s kind of the small things that makes a big difference.”
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She partnered with DeJesus and they shared their story in the New York Times bestselling memoir Hope: A Memoir of Survival in Cleveland, written with Mary Jordan and Kevin Sullivan.
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She is also raising a daughter, which she delivered while inside Castro’s home. “I’m so proud of how much she’s grown as a person. She’s very caring. And a lot of kids her age are not like that and I find that she is,” Berry told local TV station Fox8.
DeJesus, now 28-years-old and the youngest of the group, has been quietly enjoying life with her tight-knit family in the suburbs of Cleveland, a source told PEOPLE.
She recently joined forces with the Northeast Ohio Amber Alert Committee. Newburgh Heights Police Chief John Majoy, who works with the group, told Fox8 that DeJesus plans to help survivors and their family members.
“She’s such an asset to the team,” Majoy told the local station. “Anywhere in our eight-county area, we will send a victims’ advocate specialist along with Gina to meet with the family and provide them support services.”
DeJesus told the station that she wants to help people in her community. She said, “Just to give back and to help like they helped me when I came home.”