Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight, three women held captive in a Cleveland home for almost a decade, have released a YouTube video in which they thank everyone for support and encouragement, and for giving them a chance to start new lives.
In an emotional video posted to YouTube on Monday night, the three women thanked their families, friends and the public. Amanda Berry said it has been a "blessing to have such outpouring of love and kindness."
In spite of their harrowing ordeal of 10 years, the women wore brave smiles and appeared in good spirits.
Ariel Castro, 52, a former school bus driver was arrested on May 6 after Berry escaped from his Cleveland house with the assistance of neighbors.
According to Digital Journal, the women were found when a neighbor, Charles Ramsey, heard Amanda screaming for help. Ramsey told a local TV station: "I heard screaming, I'm eating my McDonalds, I come outside and I see this girl going nuts trying to get out of the house and I go on the porch and she says 'Help me get out! I've been in here a long time.' I go on the porch and she said 'Help me get out. I've been here a long time.' I figure it was domestic violence dispute. She comes out with a little girl and says ‘Call 911, my name is Amanda Berry’... When she told me, it didn't register. It didn't register until I got on the phone with 911 and I said 'I'm calling 911 for Amanda Berry'- I thought this girl is dead."
AP reports that Castro has pleaded not guilty to a 329-count indictment that he kidnapped the women and held them captive in his home for almost a decade. He is also accused of starving and punching Knight and causing her to miscarry.
Knight, who alone appears to bear visible scars of the ordeal, said in the video that she was building a "brand new life." She said: "I may have been through hell and back, but I am strong enough to walk through hell with a smile on my face and my head held high. I will not let the situation define who I am. I will define the situation. I don't want to be consumed by hatred."
Knight's attorney Kathy Joseph said the women wanted to "say thank you to people from Cleveland and across the world, now that two months have passed." She added that the women issued the video because they wanted to "put voices and faces to their heartfelt messages."
Berry and DeJesus's lawyer James Wooley, said the women would like to thank the public for respecting their privacy. He said they do not want to discuss their case with the media.
Felix DeJesus and Nancy Ruiz thanked everyone for donating to a fund set up for their daughter and the other women. Ruiz urged parents with missing children not to be afraid to speak out and seek help. She said: "Count on your neighbors. Don't be afraid to ask for the help because help is available."