Saturday, May 16, 2015


What it is all about:
On the day before her 17th birthday, in 2003, Amanda Berry disappeared as she made her way home from her job at a Burger King in Cleveland. A year later, another Cleveland teen, 14-year-old Gina DeJesus, vanished while returning from middle school. Searches for both girls came up empty, and as the years passed it seemed less and less likely that either girl would ever be seen again.
In fact, the girls were still in Cleveland. They had been abducted by a man named Ariel Castro, who had kidnapped another young woman, Michelle Knight, in 2002.
Berry, DeJesus and journalist Mary Jordan tell Fresh Air's Terry Gross about the girls' years in captivity, during which time Castro kept Berry, DeJesus and Knight chained up in his boarded-up home. He raped them and nearly starved them to death. Berry became pregnant with Castro's child, a girl named Jocelyn, who was born in 2006.
Finally, on May 6, 2013, more than 10 years after she was abducted, Berry saw an opportunity to escape. Castro left the house and neglected to lock one of the doors. Berry ran to the unlocked door, but was stopped by a second locked door. She started flagging down a neighbor.
"The neighbor next door, he saw me waving my hand down and I'm kind of going crazy on the door," Berry tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross. The neighbor "was just looking at the door to figure out something. So he kind of kicks the bottom ... so I kicked it out a little bit more just enough so I could fit through there and I climbed out and then I had my daughter climb out and we were free."
Berry called the police, who were shocked to find the girls alive.
"The whole miracle in this story is that the longer someone is kidnapped the less likely [it is] that they are alive," Jordan says.
Castro was arrested soon after and later sentenced to life plus 1,000 years in prison. He committed suicide after serving about a month in prison.
Berry and DeJesus, with the help of Jordan and fellow journalist Kevin Sullivan, recount the story of their captivity and escape in Hope: A Memoir of Survival in Cleveland.

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