Amanda Berry, 27, Gina DeJesus, 23, and Michelle Knight, 32, who managed to escape their captors after being held in captivity and used as sex slaves for a decade, have finally been reunited with their families. The three women were rescued on Monday after Berry ripped the bottom of a screen door and cried for help. Authorities have detained the three brothers accused of kidnapping and raping the victims, Ariel Castro, 52, Onil Castro, 50, and Pedro Castro, 54.
DeJesus, the Puerto Rican woman who survived this ordeal and was kidnapped when she was just 14, finally arrived home today. She cheerfully saluted and waved to reporters camped outside of her home. Her family held a press conference an hour ago to express their gratitude to law enforcement, their community, and the media.
“I want to thank my neighbors that watched over me. I’m so thankful to God that she came back home and is in good health. I’m happy all of the women survived,” said her mother Nancy Ruiz. In Spanish, she also emotionally described the reunion with her daughter, “I grabbed her and hugged her. I didn’t want to let go. I feel like this is a dream.”
The DeJesus family plans on hosting a block party and “closing the street down” in honor of Gina. Her father, Felix DeJesus, also expressed, “I’m the one who kept this family together. I had the heart and soul to fight to see this day because I knew my daughter was out there alive. I knew she needed me and I never gave up.” Felix plans on becoming an advocate for other families with disappeared children.
In addition, they had a message for the perpetrators. Gina’s aunt, Sandra Ruiz, said, “Because we are God’s children, we forgive them, but we won’t forget.” The family also requested privacy during this sensitive time.