8 May 2013

Cleveland kidnappings: women held in chains

Three US women abducted 10 years ago and held captive in a house in Ohio were restrained with chains and ropes, a police chief says.

Details about the women’s ordeal began to emerge as euphoria over their rescue on Monday evening gave way to questions of how their imprisonment inside a house on a residential street in Cleveland, Ohio went undetected for so long.

Several neighbours said they had called police to report suspicious activity at the house in a dilapidated neighborhood on Cleveland’s West Side, where Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus, Michelle Knight and Berry’s six-year-old daughter escaped from their captors.

“We have no record of those calls coming in over the last 10 years,” Cleveland Police Chief Michael McGrath said on Wednesday on NBC’s “Today” show.

McGrath said he was confident police did not miss opportunities to find the missing women.

“Absolutely, there’s no question about it,” he said.

A missing poster for Amanda Berry (pic: Reuters)

‘Women were bound and chained’

FBI agents were searching through the house where the women were believed to have been held since vanishing between 2002 and 2004 from the same neighbourhood, he said.

“We have confirmation that they were bound, and there (were) chains and ropes in the home,” he said.

The women had been allowed outside “very rarely” during their captivity, he said. “They were released out in the backyard once in a while.”

McGrath said the women were in good physical condition, “considering the circumstances”.

The three suspects were expected to be charged by the end of the day, McGrath said. He said the suspects were being interviewed and “Yes, they are talking.”

The women’s imprisonment came to a dramatic end after a neighbour, Charles Ramsay, drawn by the sound of screams, broke through the door to rescue Berry, whose 2003 disappearance as a teenager was widely publicised in the local media.

He helped her place an emergency call to authorities.

Berry, now 27, was found with her six-year-old daughter, conceived and born during her captivity, along with DeJesus, 23, who vanished aged 14 in 2004, and Knight, 32, who was 20 when she went missing in 2002.