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Hi there, everybody. It's Deborah Roberts here, co-anchor of 2020. I always like to know how a story turns out, and something tells me that you, as a 2020 podcast listener, feel the same way. Welcome to the 2020 True Crime Vault, where we are revisiting some of the most memorable stories from our archives. We're also going to give you an update on what's happened since the story first air. Take a listen.


Coming up. May 6, 2013. And the gritty hardland city of Cleveland is about to witness a miracle.


Help me, I'm Amanda Berry.


I've been kidnapped and I've been missing for 10 years, and I'm here.


I'm free now.


Amanda Berry, abducted just a day before her 17th birthday. But she did not escape alone. Two other young women were found that day.


Gina Dehesus returns here. She is indeed home.


Gina Dehesus, kidnapped at the age of 14. And Michelle Knight, never even known to be missing.


The man police arrested who owns the home is-Their abductor, a deranged school bus driver named Ariel Castro.


But through the years of their captivity, they held on to one conviction that their families would never give up on them. Ten years later, that faith brought them home. I'm John Quignones. It was a story that seemed impossible to comprehend how Amanda Berry, Gina Dehesus, and Michelle Knight survived being trapped in a nightmare for so many years. Then, in 2015, Amanda and Gina finally told their story in a book and shared their experiences, from capture to imprisonment, to the moment they knew freedom was finally in their grasp with Robin Roberts, and the message they sent was loud and clear.


The story in their book begins this way.


Now we want the world to know.


We survived. We love life.


We were strong in the area classroom.


You're about to go on an amazing journey of resilience, celebration, and faith. Until tonight, it's been It's a mystery what really went on in that house for an unimaginable 10 years. But for the first time right here, you're going to hear that incredible story. Amanda Berry and Gina Dehesus share it in their new book, Hope, a memoir of survival in Cleveland, and they prove that out of the darkest depths of humanity, a light still shines. It was pretty cool. Amanda Berry, now 29, is tiny, just over 5 feet tall, but inside, a tower of strength. Tell me what you were like when you were 13. What teenager were you then?


I was pretty much a homebody. I stayed home a lot, did my school work.


What did you want to be when you grew up?


I was into fashion. When I was in school, the shoes had to match the shirt and the shoelaces had to match the outfit.


She was raised by her mother, an older sister, in a working class neighborhood on the city's West Side. The tiny girl had big dreams of being the first in her family to go to college.


We was a very close family. It was me, my mom, my sister, and my two daughters. We did everything together. It was not a time that she didn't call and let us know where she was.


It is April 21, 2003, the day before her 17th birthday, and Amanda is on her way to work at Burger King. How did that day begin?


Well, my mom gave me a kiss and just told me, Have a good day. I got up, got ready for work. I almost got off work that day because the next day was my birthday. What if? What if I would have caught off that day?


That question would haunt her in years to come. But this day begins like any other until the moment when an SUV starts to follow her down the street.


And he asked, Do you need a ride home? I said, Yes.


The man inside is the father of her friend, Angie Castro, from middle school. So did that make you feel a little relieved?


It did, yeah. It's a friend's dad. He's like, Well, she's at my house. Would you like to go see her? I said, Yeah, sure. I haven't seen her in a while.


They drove down this quiet street, Seymour Avenue, and pull up in front of a white, two-storied house. And what happened when you went into the house?


Well, he said, Oh, well, the bathroom doors closed. I think maybe she's taking a bath. So he said, Well, just wait. So he started showing me around the house, and I never got back out.


Moments after stepping through the door, Amanda knows she is in trouble. Castro takes her upstairs and shows her something strange, a mystery woman sleeping in a bedroom in front of a television set.


When I seen her, it was like a little peep hole that the door not was supposed to go in. So that's all I saw.


She would later learn that woman, 22-year-old Michelle Knight, had been Castro's prisoner for almost a year. And what did he tell you?


That that was his roommate.


Her memories of what happened next are still raw.


When he took me to the next bedroom, and it was just really dark in there, and he didn't turn on the lights. And there was a little room off of the bigger bedroom, a big closet. And he took me in there, and he told me to fold on my pants. And from there, I knew this was not going to be good.


Amanda has just become Castro's second prisoner.


When he took me to the basement, he tapped my wrist. He tapped my ankles. And he put a belt around my ankles over the tape. And then he put a helmet over my head. He said, Just be quiet and don't make any noise, and I'll take you home.


The visor of that black helmet is now fogged by her tears.


He came me up to this pole, and it was a really thick chain, a motor chain or something. And he just left me there. He shut the lights off and put a little TV there. And I was just left in the dark. I just started screaming and crying, and somebody, Please help me. And nobody came.


So you're there in the dark. You're chained up. Lord only knows what you had to be thinking.


I was so scared that I was going to die. I didn't think that I was going to ever make it home.


Just a 10-minute drive away, her sister, Beth, is worrying about why Amanda never came home. So her mother calls the police.


We left her a message. By the third No phone call with no answer, we knew something was wrong because 90% of the time she's going to answer that phone.


The neighborhood around Amanda's home becomes ground zero for the investigation. Fbi Special Agent Tim Kalanick, head of the Violent Crimes Unit, knows that the road ahead is far from easy.


Missing person cases are probably the most difficult cases that we work. And the reason is because it really is a needle on a haystack. You're looking for that piece of evidence. Some unusual person walking down the street, an unusual vehicle.


Amanda was last seen leaving work at this Burger King on Lorraine Avenue. All across the city, the news of her abduction makes headlines as the search for the missing teenager begins. Her sister is posting Amanda's picture. She hopes for the best. And in that White house on Seymour Avenue, Amanda is watching her mother, her sister, her own story, slowly unfold in the bitter grays of a tiny black and white TV. Be.


Keep her going on the news media. Any flyers I can do.


I wanted her to know that we were fighting for her, and we wasn't going to give up until we knew where she was or what had happened.


What then threw your mind when you were watching that as you were chained?


That kept me going. And I said, You know what? I'm going to make it home to you. As long as you fight, I'm going to fight.


It is day four of Amanda's abduction. Castro has moved her to an upstairs bedroom, chaining her to a radiator. The hours are crawling by. The loneliness, the isolation, Amanda, that you must have felt. How did you deal with that?


The first week I was there, it was really tough. So I asked for maybe a color and book and something I can write in a journal or something.


The first thing he gives her is a diary with a tiny lock and key. Her first entry, written by the flickering light of the television.


I just can't wait to go home. I'm 17 now, but don't have a life. But he told me I'm young and I will go home before summer, another two months.


It would be 10 years before she would return home. When we come back, Amanda's private diary, her secret code to trap him. Next.


Two years after her escape, Amanda Berry was ready to finally tell what happened in the 10 years she was held captive in a rundown house on Cleveland's West Side. Robin Roberts picks up the story as the shock of the first days gives way to a routine that is more horrific than anyone could imagine.


This is a scale model of Ariel Castro's house, 1400 square feet, four bedrooms, and one bathroom. Amanda was first held captive down in the basement, then moved to the second floor and chained in the main bedroom. Just steps down the hall, Michelle Knight, Castro's first captive, lived in a second tiny bedroom. On the surface, the house didn't draw a second glance, but concealed inside 2207 Seymour Avenue is a bunker of chilling magnitude.


There were doors that were put on the windows, completely covering the windows, so no light could come in. The bolts that held those doors on the wall were sheared off. There was no way they could get at them, and those were even behind plexiglas.


Its owner, Ariel Castro, is 5 feet, 7 inches tall and a recluse, his only known hobby, playing weekend gigs at local jazz gloves.


On the outside, he appeared very normal. He was a bus driver, and there was an instance where he took the grill out in the front yard, and he invited his neighbors. He might be the last one he would suspect a wrongdoing.


But this school bus driver is a man with a past. He has a her wife, four children, and a history of brutal violence. She and her children moved out of the house, fleeing Castro's violent rage. He hated women. He beat his wife so badly. He stomped on her head. He broke her teeth. He broke her bones. From the beginning, Amanda could sense the uncontrollable anger within.


He was very intimidating. He was very scary. His voice was mean and deep. And if you ever looked into his eyes, they were black, like he had no soul.


It is April 27, 2003, six days into captivity, and Amanda is still chained to that radiator in the second floor bedroom.


My My chain is actually a few different chains linked by padlocks. It stretches 5 feet from the radiator to my stomach. 5 feet has become the size of my whole world.


Can you describe what it was like to live chained like that.


It was really hard going to sleep at night. If you wanted to toss onto your back, you couldn't do that. You would have to take the whole chain and move it to the front of your stomach so that you're not laying on the big lock on your back.


Her tiny room, about the size of a closet, is dark and filthy.


The mattress was old and nasty. It was just disgusting. And the bucket to use the bathroom. That smelt horrible.


Once a day, he feeds her, sometimes junk food, sometimes not at all.


He started to give a bag of chips or crackers or something.


Her access to the bathroom is strictly limited.


He could only take a bath once a week I think my hair would get so tingled, and I would try to brush it out with my hands, and it just got nasty being so dirty.


Ariel Castro is her only lifeline, but everything, even her weekly shower, comes at a price.


He tried to act nice, but he's like, Well, maybe you need to go take a shower. I had to take a shower with him.


He forced you to take a shower with him?


He thought that, Well, I I've heard that. I deserve this.


What do you want to tell people about the sexual abuse that you suffered?


It was horrible. After a while, you just get used to it. You numb yourself to it, and you put your mind somewhere else so that you're not there. You're not in that room with him.


How often did you think you were not going to survive?


Oh, there was plenty of times when I just never knew why is he keeping me Is it one day when he's done with me, he'll kill me and get rid of me.


Yet what Amanda now knows of Castro's brutality strengthens her conviction to survive.


I realized I have a mission. This man enjoys hurting women, and I want people to know it. I don't want him to get away with it. I need to outlast him.


She keeps a record in code in her diary. Hidden Testimony Against Ariel Castro. One X, three, four. Each entry, a daily record of rape. You would actually put how many times he was assaulting you.


I would always write these numbers at the top of the pages because I felt like one day, maybe authorities will get to read it, and he'll be punished for what he did.


She's disturbed that Castro calls her his temporary wife.


He would try to hold hands with me. It would just make me sick because he would fall asleep. And so I would take my hand away from his hand, and I would scoot to the very edge of the bed, but I couldn't go too far because of the chain.


Amanda has been missing for a week when her family receives a late night call. It is Castro taunting them using Amanda's cell phone.


He called and said, I have Mandy, which nobody called her Mandy, but who knew her? She wants to be with me. We're married. Well, we just sat there like, We know she's not married. We knew definitely that it was file play.


Making that call on Amanda's phone was a near miss in the case, leading authorities to within two blocks of his house. In 2003, the FBI was just starting to develop technology that could track a cell phone's location The intelligence and the information we have indicated that Amanda's phone was used in about a 30, 40 block area.


We spent about a week around the clock in that area, hoping that this phone would be used again.


But Castro didn't use that phone again, and their one solid lead vet banished into thin air.


There were very good tips, very good leads that we had to follow up on, and we did follow up on. But unfortunately, the tip that we need just didn't come in.


The weeks are slowly stretching into months when Castro makes Amanda a strange promise.


He would always tell me when he got another girl in the house that, I'm just looking for another girl, and then I'll take you home.


But Amanda knows he's lying to her. She's seen Michelle Knight locked in another room. Though they've never spoken, she knows Michelle is a prisoner, too.


It was scary because I didn't know if one day we were going to be murdered, when he felt like he was done or he wanted more girls in the house. What was he going to do to us?


As the months passed by, Amanda's mother is fighting to hold on to hope. Her daughter's room unchanged since her disappearance. Amanda's Christmas presents still unopen. Four miles away in the freezing cold of her room, Amanda fills the empty hours by writing in a diary hundreds of pages in notebooks, on napkins, and even on fast food bags. So you get a bag like this, you bring something home. What would you do with it?


You would just go all the way around. There we go.




There's your paper.


How many days could you get into this?


That could last a good week if you needed it, too.


Amanda has been a prisoner for almost a year. When Castro goes on the proul again, hunting just five blocks away from the street where he kidnapped Amanda. On this day, the young girl who catches his eye is 14. Her name, Gina De Jesús, and she's one of his daughters closest friends.


He pulls over to me, and then I got in the car, and then he would say he's going to turn around, but he never turned around.


Gina De Jesús is about to become Castro's third victim. Stay with us.


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Hey, I'm Andy Mitchell, a New York Times bestselling author. And I'm Sabrina Kohlberg, a morning television producer. We're moms of toddlers and best friends of 20 years. And we both love to talk about being parents, yes, but also pop culture. So we're combining our two interests by talking to celebrities, writers, and fellow scholars of TV and movies. Cinema, really. About what we all can learn from the fictional moms we love to watch. From ABC Audio in Good Morning, America, pop Culture Mom's is out now wherever you listen to podcasts.


Amanda Berry has been held captive for almost a year. Now, Ariel Castro is hunting for another teenage girl to abduct, and he doesn't have to look far. Once again, here's Robin Roberts.


Her spirit is in her smile. Gina de Jesús, age 14, the baby of the family. She loves to dance. I like you. Now 25, she still has the sweetness of the 14-year-old girl she once was. What are words that describe what 14-year-old you were?


Outgoing. I like to go outside and hang out with my friends, go skating.


What dreams did you have for yourself?


I wanted to become a lawyer. Why? I don't know. I think it was fun to win cases.


Gina grew up on the rough side of a hard town, the youngest child of three. She was a slow learner in special education classes And from an early age, her mother, Nancy Ruiz, always taught her to be wary of strangers. I told her, if somebody came up to you and tell you, Can you help me look for my dog? I lost my dog. Don't stop. You continue to walk and you ignore the person. I told her to be aware of her surroundings at all times. But all of Nancy's planning was no match for a predator like Ariel Castro. Tell us about that day you were with his daughter.


Yes, Arlene Castro.


Did you have any idea what man he was?


No. I just knew that that was her father, and my dad was friends with him.


Gina is heading home from school with her friend Arlene, and gives her some of her bus money to phone home.


We were talking about what we wanted to do because it was Friday. Then I was like, You could come over. Then she asked her mom, and her mom says no. She went the other way, and then I went the other way.


Now short on bus fare, Gina starts the long walk home when suddenly that maroon SUV pulls up at the curb. It's Arlene's father.


He asks me, If you've seen my daughter? I said, Yeah, she's right around the corner. He was like, Can you help me find her? And I said, Sure.


When they arrive at the house, he invites her in.


I was sitting there and he starts to touch me and stuff. And then I'm like, What are you doing? You can go to jail. And then he just switches up like, Well, okay, you're going to go home now. He said, But you can't go through the same door you came in.


He leads Gina down into his basement, then grabs her and begins to chain her.


He didn't make it tight enough, so I threw it over and then I tried to run, but he sat on my back. And then I just start kicking him. I kicked him and I bruised him really bad.


As Castro overpower the tiny girl, she starts screaming for help.


Nobody could hear me. The radio was too loud.


He always had that radio up, so the neighbor's been here.


He had two radios up. He had one in the basement and one in the living room.


What were you feeling in those initial moments when you're in that basement for the first time and he leaves you there chained like that?


I was, Why is this happening? Why can't nobody hear me when I'm screaming?


Health was only two miles away if Gina's parents only knew where to start.


I went searching everywhere, downstairs, schools, empty buildings.


The police feverishly searched for clues, now suspecting that there is a serial criminal on the loose. By air, on ground. Every inch of Cleveland's West Side under the microscope. For the first few weeks, Gina is traumatized by Castro's disturbing behavior.


He would take my hair and and put it in his mouth. I don't know why he did it, but it was gross.


When was the first time that he took advantage of you?


May seventh.


She still remembers the exact date, but it It's still too painful to say more. What are you comfortable in sharing and telling us about that?


I'm not comfortable.


During her first few days in captivity, Gina watches stories about her own kidnapping and begins to suspect that she is not Castro's first victim.


I kept watching the news after a while.


We knew to hope that Amanda Berry will soon come home.


I was like, Did you take Amanda? And he was like, No. Why would you think that? I was like, Because you took me One month later, he admits the truth, allowing the girls to meet for the first time while watching their families on America's Most Wanted.


I'm calling friends after friends. They said they didn't like to see it. So what was your initial feeling that, Oh, my goodness. There's two others, and I'm not the only one in here. He's got three of us.


There's something wrong with this man.


With three women now imprisoned in the house, each in separate rooms, Castro seemed to be creating a strange polygamous version of his ideal family. What was the relationship like with you and him?


I couldn't stand him, but I couldn't show it all the time. I had to act like I liked him, and we were friends, but I really didn't like him.


He deluded himself into thinking that he was leading a normal life with these women. He was providing for them. They had a little family, which is crazy, but that's the way he thought. At first, Gina is Castro's new favorite.


He seems to treat me better than the other girls. I have the nicer room. He lets me eat first. I wonder if he's kinder to me because I'm the new girl, and I wonder what happens when I'm not new anymore.


As the new girl, Gina learns about Castro's rigid house rules, granting them freedom from their chains only to clean the house.


We had to make toothpaste last for five months.


We had to use a tiny drop of dish soap to wash a full sink of dishes.


We had to put the pan in the center on the stove.


It couldn't be a little to the left, a little to the right.


Castro used this calculated deprivation to drive the girls apart. When you have very little, you can become jealous.




What were you jealous of?


It could be from getting more food, less food, different clothes. I mean, it was just simple things. But when you don't have anything, you're like, Why don't I have that? I want that.


The girls were riding an emotional roller coaster when suddenly, Amanda drops a bombshell. She writes about it in her diary.


I have a secret, a reason to fight. I think I'm pregnant.


When we come back. Three more years have passed in that house on Seymour Avenue. Gina, Amanda, and Michelle locked in a prison of frozen time. Their posters are getting tattered. Their school friends have graduated. Years of isolation have left the girls with nothing but the past.


I never finished high school or learned to drive. I hate him for selling me off from the world.


What was the biggest part of you that you felt he took from you that you lost?


A normal life, living life. As a normal teenage girl, having birthdays or going to a prom, having no fun times. That's just a regular teenager.


Still, they hold fast to the memories of their family's love. Ironically, Castro gives the girls this pencil. They trace the word hope to ward off despair.


I got that when he went to the yard sale, and I thought it was so random.


What did it mean to you?


It gave me hope to come home one day.


Their only window to the outside world is that black and white television. Anybody that you watched on television that helped you get through the times?


I watched Oprah a lot, Brother Stuart for Recipes, and I watched you. You watched me? I remember during Hurricane Katrina, I saw everything that you went through.


Robin Roberts is live in the heart of the devastation. My family had barely survived the hurricanes devastation. Okay, sister's okay? They're all right. And the house? I got to say, Amanda, are you saying that? It reaffirms to you that you You never know who's watching.


You never do.


Amanda is watching when her mother appears on the Montell Williams show with psychic Sylvia Brown.


I would watch her every time she was on Montell, and I'd say, I wish my mom would go on there. And then she could tell my mom that I was alive and then I'm okay.


But Sylvia Brown breaks Louana's hope. I just hate this. She's not alive, honey.


I just broke down crying because I couldn't believe she said that. And then my mom broke down crying. So that hurt even worse.


Two years later, Amanda learns on a news report that her mother has passed. For three years, Louana Miller fought hard to find Amanda.


I think that was the hardest part of being in there. She was always fighting, and she was never going to give up on me. And for her to get sick, and I couldn't be there with her. I couldn't help her when she was sick.


Isolated by loss, sometimes Amanda has only Castro.


So he came in the room and I was just really sad, and I started talking to him, and he's like, Everything's going to be okay. Everything's going to turn out all right. And so I asked him for a hug, and We hugged.


There had to be a part of you that was thinking, What in the world?


There was. But then there was another part of me like, I needed that. I needed a human caring touch instead of everything that he always did, which was not caring.


It is Amanda's 20th birthday when Hope makes an unexpected visit.


I think I'm pregnant. I think my mom sent this baby, someone to help pull me through. I think she has sent me a miracle.


When you first realized that you were pregnant, what went through your mind?


I I was terrified. I mean, I barely eat, and I'm chained to a wall, and I have a bucket for a bathroom.


It is early in the morning on Christmas Day, 2006, and Amanda Berry is in labor.


He went and got Michelle, and he got this baby pool because he didn't want a mess on the bed.


She strips off her clothes and gets into that inflatable waiting pool.


Michelle was just talking to me like, Relax, calm down. You're okay. And he sat in the rocking chair right there just reading this book about birth and stuff.


Just hours later, baby Jocelyn emerges into her surreal world. What was it like for you, Amanda, when you looked in her eyes for the first time?


It was amazing because she was so quiet, and she was just the most beautiful.


You hear of rape victims who have a child. How do you just wrap your mind around it and make it work?


At first, that's what I was worried about. This is his kid. How do I feel about that? She resembled him a lot, and I would look at her, and I just felt like, She's mine. She's mine.


At first, Castro is so afraid of raising questions, he buys no supplies for the baby.


Her first outfit was one of his socks, and he cut out two holes for her legs, and then he cut out another sack, and then he cut two arms out, and it was a little dress for her.


From day one of Jocelyn's life, Amanda fights for normal in the most abnormal of places. She covers the doors over her windows with a bright shower curtain. She paced the alphabet up on a wall. But as Jocelyn grows older, it gets harder to hide the truth. Does she see the chains on you?


Yeah. So he started to call them bracelets. And she was about three years old, and he finally took the chains off. That was because of Jocelyn.


What was her relationship like with her father?


Normal. She loved him, and he loved her.


Did you ever worry that he was going to harm her?


I was. Would he touch her? Would he ever think about touching her? Because he had his problems.


Despite those fears, She says Castro is a good father, though Jocelyn is almost three before he consents to her first walk outside in the sun.


She had never been to the parks before and seeing little kids like herself.


One of the The best times when you looked out and you saw the sunlight on her face for the first time.


It was the most beautiful thing. I just felt like that's where she should always be.


It's the beginning of a new chapter in Jocelyn's life, going outside, attending Sunday Services. Her room is now filled with toys. Castro's love for Jocelyn is turning him into a different man. He really didn't know what to do because this adorable little girl saying, I want to go outside and see the ice cream man. I want to go and see the snow. And the more she led him outside, the more likely it was that his jail was going to one day burst apart. It is the summer of 2011. Jocelyn is almost five years old when in a defiant act of hope, Amanda creates an imaginary schoolhouse inside the prison of their tiny room.


We would pretend, leave our house, all of this in the same room, of course.


So you've been doing all this in the same room?


Yeah. I would tell her, Okay, we're at a street now, so you got to stop. Then you look both ways for cars, and then we can go across the street. Okay, we're at school now. So then I'd sit her at her little desk and tell her, You have a good day at school now, mommy will be back later for you.


They would travel together on that imaginary journey every day of Jocelyn's kindergarten year. When we come back, how they nearly escaped. His daughter was right there, 10 feet away. Did you think about if we yelled? Next. Though the house was a fortress and the girls for years locked and chained, the question that many may ask is, why didn't they run?


I thought about putting rat poison in his jeans and then spraying like pine salt in his eyes, but he was always a step ahead of what I was doing.


Both girls admit there were opportunities that slipped away. Once, when Gina's friend Arlene Castro stopped by, he moved and chained all three girls in the basement. The three of you were in the basement, and his daughter was right there. Arlene was just 10 feet away.


Yeah, we could hear him laughing and talking.


Still, they remained silent. Did you think about if we yell, She's right there. We're right there. Possibly somebody could hear you?


There was always a chance.


What if he killed everybody?


The daily abuse was agonizing, but the unknown, even more terrifying.


Every day was unpredictable. That was one of the hardest parts because you never knew how he was going to act.


What do you say to those people to make them understand.


You never know until you're in that situation, what you're going to do, how you're going to react.


They dreamt of escaping. They dreamt of setting the house on fire. But if I get caught, I just can't bear any more pain. And it They were frozen in fear. But on May 6, 2013, courage came from the most unexpected of places. On that day, it is little Jocelyn who sparks the great escape.


Jocelyn goes downstairs, and then she runs back up and she says, I don't fight Daddy. Daddy's nowhere around.


It's like, Mom, Daddy's car is gone. My heart immediately started pounding because I'm like, Should I chance it? If I'm going to do it, I need to do it now.


Amazingly, she finds her bedroom door unlocked. This is the one time that your room was not locked.


Never before in 10 years has that happened.


She races downstairs. The front door is open, but beyond it, a second door padlocked shut. Still, Amanda manages to squeeze out an arm.


So I'm just like, waving my arm, and I'm like, Somebody, please, please help me. I'm Amanda Berry, please.


She's too afraid to go back for Gina and Michelle.


I turned to Michelle I'm like, We could run. But then once Michelle gets pumped, I talked her out of it. Why'd you talk her out of it? I thought that Amanda got caught.


Outside, a neighbor sees Amanda but is afraid to intervene.


After I got to that door and the guy didn't help me, I was like, He's going to come home, and this is just going to be the end.


That's when Charles Ramsey shows up. I see this girl going nuts, trying to get out of her house. I go on the porch, and she says, Help me get out. I've been in here a long time.


He started trying to pull on the door, but he couldn't get it open either. And so he kicks it. And he's like, There you go. Finish kicking it out, and you can get out.


With reckless courage, Amanda kicks her way to freedom and emerges clinging to her terrified daughter. This is a cell phone image of that moment of freedom. And she comes out with a little girl, and she says, Call 911. My name is Amanda Berry. Help me, I'm Amanda Berry. I've been kidnapped, and I've been missing for 10 years, and I'm here. I'm free now. Were you still frightened that he may show up at any time?


I was terrified. And just because there's people on the street doesn't mean that He wouldn't hurt me.


Why, after all this time, do you think he left that door open?


I still don't know why he left that day with the door unlocked.


I would never know. Within minutes, the police start flooding the street.


It was so unreal because the cops just kept coming. My partner immediately asked her, Is there anybody else inside?


She said, Yes, Gina De Jesús and another girl. A neighbor captures the moment when the police stormed the house. Inside, Gina and Michelle cower in the room, afraid of Castro's rage.


I'm like, Oh, we're next. He's coming for us, so close the door. They yell police, and then Michelle swings the door open and just runs out there and hunks him.


She jumped onto me. She's like, You saved us. You saved us. And I'm holding onto her so tight. In tears, Officer Anthony Aspada looks up and sees Gina, unrecognizable after losing 30 pounds. I just looked at her and I asked her, What's your name? She said, My name is Georgina De Jesús. We found them.


We found them.


Lost and finally found, the flashing lights blind their eyes, accustomed only to darkness.


Once I saw that, I'm like, You know, this is it. I think we're free now.


Delivered at last from the shadows, their families wait with open arms.


Oh, my God. She's so skinny, but she was still beautiful. She had the biggest smile that she always had.


It was like a dream.


I needed somebody to wake me up. Thank you, Lord. You brought my baby back home.


For Amanda, Gina, and Michelle, the endless nights of terror have finally come to an end. August first, 2013, Ariel Castro pleads guilty to 937 counts of kidnapping and rape. His sentence, life plus 1,000 years. But can Gina and Amanda forgive the man who stole their lives away?


I think you have to forgive in order to move on with your life.


Can you forgive him?


You know, I thought about that a lot. And in this situation, I feel like, no, I could never forgive him. I mean, he took my mom for me. I'll never get to see her again.


Just weeks into his sentence, Castro hanged himself.


I wish he would not kill himself because I wanted him to suffer like we did. I think he took the easy way out.


The house on Seymour Avenue has been demolished, torn down by the state to prevent it from becoming a morbid curiosity. It took less than one hour to erase a 10-year-old nightmare. You cried.


I think it was tears of happiness. Everything bad that happened in that house, now it's gone.


One hopeful item from those dark years, a thank you note, now seems prophetic.


So like one day I was going to get home and they were going to read this. Thank you for not giving up on me. And it's because of your help that you're reading this, because that means I'm home.


I think this is in part what brought you home. To Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus, and Michelle Knight, three extraordinary women. And what about Michelle Knight, the third woman imprisoned in that house?


We We don't really keep in touch, but I just wish her the best.


For Amanda and Gina, survival has sweetened the taste of freedom. How's your life now?


It's great. I can walk outside when I want. I can take my daughter to school. I can go to my friend's house. I can eat what I want.


I'm going to school now.


Have you learned how to drive yet?


Yes, I have my license.


I hope my daughter, she does good in school. And we just have a bright future and see what comes.


With the past now behind them, one last note. To the thousands of missing children out there, watching, searching, as Gina and Amanda did, for a light in the darkness. And you don't know who's watching you right now when we air this. What do you say to that person who's watching you right now? Amanda looks straight into the camera with this message of hope.


Never give up because you will make it. Your family, your friends will not give up, so you don't give up.


I believe, I believe, I believe. I believe, I believe, I believe. You believe that everything is possible. I believe I believe, I believe, I believe, I believe, I believe, I believe, I believe, anything is possible.


This is Deborah Roberts with an update to this story. Two years after their escape, another milestone for Amanda Berry and Gina Dehesus. Both women got honorary degrees from John Marshall High School in Cleveland, the school Amanda was attending when Ariel Castro abducted her. They're also both advocating for other kidnapped children and their families, Gina through her foundation, the Cleveland Family Center, and Amanda by hosting a Missing Person segment on the local news. Thanks for listening to this edition of the 2020 True Crime Vault. We hope you'll join us on Friday nights at 9:00 for all new broadcasts of 2020.