Freed Cleveland women, Gina DeJesus and Amanda Berry, come home to cheers after decade in captivity
3rd victim, Michelle Knight, still in hospital
Last Updated: 217 days ago
CLEVELAND - Loud cheers greeted Gina DeJesus and Amanda Berry as they arrived at their homes with police motorcycle escorts, celebrating their returns a decade after they were abducted separately as teenagers.
DeJesus, 23, was wearing a hoodie as she gave a thumbs up to cheer crowd of hundreds lining the streets outside a home decorated with dozens of balloons and a welcome home sign, ABC News reported.
"There are not enough words to say or express for the joy we feel for the return of our family member, Gina," DeJesus' aunt, Sandra Ruiz said,
"We are asking for your support to be patient with us. Give us time and privacy to heal," she said. "When we're ready, I promise you…we will talk to you."
Hours earlier, Berry arrived at her sister Beth Serrano's home with her 6-year-old daughter, Joceleyn, who was born on Christmas Day while in captivity.
While Berry and DeJesus were released from the hospital to return home, a third victim, Michelle Knight, remains at the hospital.
The homecomings were charged with powerful emotions.
Gina's father, Felix DeJesus, hugged family and friends while pumping his fists in the air and flashing a huge smile.
"I have a high and mighty God to give me the strength to fight and see this day," Felix said. "Too many kids these days come up missing. We always ask the question, how come I didn't see it? Why? Because we chose not to. As a community, you have to come out and watch the kids, even though you aren't their parent."
Ruiz said niece is thrilled to be home after vanishing at age 14 while walking home from school.
-- 'She's ecstatic to be home,' aunt says --
"She's ecstatic to be home. She's happy," Ruiz said, added that Gina was smiling and hugging everyone.
Ruiz said she wants to focus on bringing other missing people home. "There are not enough words to say or express how we feel about the return of Gina and Amanda and Michelle," the aunt added.
Gina's mother, Nancy Ruiz, thanked the men who helped Amanda Berry escape from the locked home on Monday afternoon and praised Berry for her courage. "Because of that, these three young women are at home."
Felix never gave up searching for his daughter and never lost hope. He thanked everyone who stood beside him over the past decade.
"I had heart and soul to fight to see this day because I knew my daughter was out there alive."
-- Amanda Berry and daughter cheered --
Cheers greeted a motorcade that escorted Amanda Berry and her daughter Wednesday as the woman returned home after enduring a decade of captivity in a Cleveland house.
Berry and her 6-year-old daughter, Jocelyn, were ushered into the house through a back door out of the view of cameras.
She came home to the house of her sister, Beth Serrano. The front porch and bushes were festooned with balloons and teddy bears and a phalanx of press out front, ABC News reported.
"We are so happy to have Amanda home. We request privacy to recover. We appreciate all the media has done for us over the past years," Serrano said.
Cleveland Police Cmdr. Thomas McCartney told reporters, "Remember this is Amanda's day. She is calling the shots... It's Amanda's rules today."
Berry is credited as being the "hero" after she made a brave bolt to freedom on Monday with her daughter by her side. Berry's 911 call led authorities to the home on Seymour Avenue where she and two other women were allegedly kept for a decade.
"Hope is alive today and our dreams have been answered," McCartney said.
The original missing flyer showing Amanda and a yellow ribbon were tied to a tree outside the home.
Nearby was a sign that said, "Wish it. Dream it."
-- Berry's Call to Her Grandmother --
Twenty-four hours after making an emotional call to police following her daring escape from 10 years of captivity, Berry made a far different call to family members in Tennessee to let them know she is "glad to be back."
The elation among family members and friends stretched well beyond the home where Berry, 27, and two other women -- Gina DeJesus, 23, and Michele Knight, 32 -- were allegedly held captive on Seymour Avenue in Cleveland.
Berry called her grandmother Fern Gentry of Elizabethton, Tenn., Tuesday to say that the little girl in the hospital photo is her 6-year-old daughter, Jocelyn, according to 7NEWS' sister station WEWS-TV, which was present during the call.
"Is the little girl your baby?" Gentry asked.
"Yeah, she's my daughter, she was born on Christmas," Berry said.
Many of Berry's relatives, including her grandparents and father, now live in Tennessee. Some of Berry's younger cousins only know her through pictures and stories told by other family members. Berry went missing at age 16 in 2003 while on her way home from a job at Burger King.
"I'm glad to have you back," grandmother Gentry said to Berry.
"I'm glad to be back," Berry said.
Berry's father, John, said he had a short conversation with her Tuesday and through his darkest days, he always knew his daughter was alive.
"I didn't think she was dead. No, never," Berry said. "Keep hope. Keep hope. Don't give up till you know because I never gave up."
Berry said he knew deep down in his heart that his daughter's "rough and tough" attitude would keep her alive. That's why he spent years putting posters up in every store window, knowing he would one day get that call.
John Berry's former wife, Louwana Miller, worked hard to bring their daughter home, pleading with authorities to follow every tip. Miller died in 2006 at the age of 43 after being hospitalized with pancreatitis. Berry suspects she died of a broken heart.
John Berry, who is recovering from back surgery, finally received that long-awaited call from a Cleveland relative after his daughter broke through a door and bolted toward freedom.
"There's no way to explain. It's the best thing that ever happened to me. Best feeling I ever had," Berry said.
Michele Knight, who vanished in 2002 when she was 20, is expected to be released from the hospital later today. Knight's mother, Barbara, revealed that when her daughter disappeared, she filed a police report, but no one took her seriously.
"I had a caseworker tell me that maybe she doesn't want me to be involved with her life anymore," Knight told Cleveland's Fox affiliate WJW-TV.
Ariel Castro, the 52-year-old owner of the home where the women were held captive, was charged with four counts of kidnapping and three counts of rape on Wednesday, police said.
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