Sources: Cleveland women held in chains, gave birth to at least 5 babies at home

Women escaped with neighbor's help Monday

CLEVELAND - Three women held in chains in a Cleveland home gave birth to at least five babies, police sources tell WEWS-TV, 7NEWS' sister station.

Police have publicly confirmed that one victim, Amanda Berry, carried her 6-year-old daughter from the home during her Monday night escape. There were initial reports of more children being found inside the home, but police have not confirmed that.

Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight disappeared about a decade ago while in their teens and early 20s. Police sources tell WEWS the women were bound with chains and tape in separate rooms at the Seymour Avenue home.

Authorities have not explicitly said the women were forced into sexual slavery, but police sources told WEWS the women had multiple pregnancies while held captive. One of the victims had two to three miscarriages because she was malnourished, a source said.

At a Tuesday morning new conference, authorities in Cleveland said they were working to answer many questions about the nightmare the women endured.

"We’re happy that they have returned to us, but their absence for several years has plagued their families, Cleveland police and so many others," said Mayor Frank Jackson. "We have several unanswered questions: why and how they were taken and why they remained undetected in Cleveland this period of time."

Police said only the women will be able to tell them what has happened inside that house for the past 10 years.

-- Three Castro brothers arrested, named --

Cleveland police have arrested three brothers -- Ariel Castro, 52, Pedro Castro, 54, and Onil Castro, 50 -- in connection with the abductions. All three are awaiting charges.

According to Cleveland's safety director, there were no building or housing violations at the Seymour Avenue house and EMS was never called to the address. However, records show Cleveland police responded twice to the home in 2000 and 2004.

Cleveland chief deputy Ed Tomba said Ariel Castro was interviewed extensively in 2004 regarding an incident when he was a school bus driver. Tomba said Castro either intentionally or inadvertently left a young boy on his bus. The incident was ruled accidental.

That spawned the question of whether Castro used his position as a school bus driver to gain access to the young girls who had been kidnapped. Tomba said the answer remains unknown.

"Every single lead was followed up on, no matter how small. We dug up yards, we canvassed neighborhoods and we participated in vigils. The real hero here is Amanda," Tomba said.

A neighbor told reporter Kristin Volk that they never saw Ariel Castro come out of the front door of the Seymour Avenue home and that he always used the back door.

-- The nightmare is over --

Cleveland FBI special agent in charge Stephen Anthony said for the women’s families, prayers have been answered. The nightmare is over.

"These ladies are the ultimate definition of perseverance and hope. Everyone kept the faith believing one day, they’d see their daughters, nieces, sisters alive again."

Anthony said every resource will be used to investigate the case and bring full justice.

“In the coming days and weeks, we will track events over the past several years. Much of the effort will focus on (the women): how can we in law enforcement help speed healing and the recovery process and treat them with the dignity and respect they deserve…their families too, with comfort, advice and information to help with this process," said Anthony.

"What these young girls went through, and if you saw them (Monday) night, you’d have nothing but compassion and love in your heart," Tomba said.

-- Timeline of the women's abductions --

Cleveland Public Safety Director Martin Flask said the first call came in from a neighbor at 5:52 p.m. Monday. The next 911 call for help came from Amanda Berry seconds later. Flask said officers were at the Seymour Avenue scene two minutes after the calls for help and in less than five minutes, officers were able to identify DeJesus and Berry. One minute after that, they found Michelle Knight.

"To find these three girls recovered well, gives us a boost," said Police Chief Mike McGrath.

Michelle Knight was the first woman reported missing, last seen Aug. 22, 2002. Amanda Berry went missing months later on April 21, 2003 and Gina DeJesus was taken on April 2, 2004.

The least is known about Knight's disappearance. As McGrath said, her age, 20 years old when she disappeared, may have been the reason for fewer tips. She was abducted from West 106th Street and Lorain Avenue. A missing person report was made the following day by a family member, authorities said.

-- Amanda Berry's Escape--

Berry is being called a hero by Cleveland officials. Police said she broke out of the lower part of the front door and crawled out just before 6 p.m. Monday.

Berry and a neighbor called 911 at 5:52 p.m. The first responder was at the scene in 2 minutes.

"Due to Amanda’s brave actions, these three women are alive today," said McGrath.

"Help me, I'm Amanda Berry ... I need police ...  I've been kidnapped and I've been missing for 10 years and I'm here and I'm free now," Berry says on the 911 call.

Hear frantic 911 call from Amanda Berry:
http://ch7ne.ws/ZCRoNo

Hear 911 call from Charles Ramsey, a neighbor who helped Amanda call 911:  http://ch7ne.ws/10ffGMn