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Crime and Courts


Some neighbors say they saw signs of trouble; police say they got no calls
Cleveland Safety director says he'll keep checking the records for reports that may have alerted them to abducted women
by WKSU's M.L. SCHULTZE


Web Editor
M.L. Schultze
 
Cleveland Safety Director Martin Flask says he'll keep scouring for records of complaints.
Courtesy of BRIAN BULL/WCPN
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In The Region:

Two residents of a west-side neighborhood where three women are believed to have been held captive for a decade say they reported suspicious activity.

According to WKYC, one neighbor heard pounding on doors at the house on Seymour Avenue and another saw a naked woman crawling through the back yard Both said police did a cursory investigation.

But Cleveland Safety Director Martin Flask says there’s no record of such calls, though he’ll  keep checking.

FLASK: On reports of reports

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“We’re going to continue to look at all the databases, not only from calls being made from that address or about that address, but any calls that … could have been made by any neighborhood residents alleging illegal activity or inappropriate activity within that home,” Flask said at a press conference this morning. “At this point, I can confirm, we have no indications any of the neighbors, bystanders, witnesses or anyone else has ever called.”

Three women were freed from the house Monday night after one broke through the front door and called for help. They are Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight.

Police have three brothers in custody, including the owner of the house.

Here’s the timeline of the case of three Cleveland women who vanished from their near west-side neighborhood a decade ago and were found Monday in a home some two miles away.

•             Aug. 23, 2002: Michelle Knight disappears from her cousin’s house near W. 106th Street and Lorain Avenue.  She’s legally an adult, and police speculate that she left because she’d lost temporary custody of her son. Her mother never believed that.

•             April 21, 2003: 16-year-old Amanda Berry never returns from work at a Burger King on Lorain and West 110th Street. Her mother, Louwana Miller, begins a search for her daughter that ends only when the 44-year-old Louwana dies in 2006.

•             January 2004: Ariel Castro is a school bus driver. Police go to his home at 2207 Seymour Ave. after Child and Family Services tells them he had left a child unattended on a bus. Police decide there was no criminal intent.

•             April 2, 2004: Georgina "Gina" DeJesus, 14, disappears while walking home from Wilbur Wright Middle School where she attended special education classes. She’s last seen at the corner of Lorain Avenue and 105th Street.

•             2005: Police and FBI agents continue the investigation, offering a $20,000 reward for details that lead to discovery of DeJesus or Berry.

•             April 2009: The FBI broadens its investigation to include another girl, 14-year-old Ashley Summers, who had disappeared in 2007.  She later contacts her family.

Police also test the DNA on a body found in Wisconsin.

•             January 2013: Convicted killer and inmate Robert Wolford is sentenced to 4 ½ years on of obstruction of justice and other charges. He gave police a false tip that said Berry’s body was buried on a vacant lot in Cleveland. Police spent 18 hours searching the lot.

•             May 6, 2013: Berry breaks through a screen door of the house on Seymour with the help of neighbors and escapes with a 6-year-old girl she identifies on the 9-1-1 call as her daughter. Police respond and find Knight and  DeJesus inside.

•             Three brothers, Ariel Castro, Pedro Castro and Onil Castro, are arrested and police are preparing charges and expecting the case to go to the Cuyahoga County grand jury.

•             May 7, 2013: The women, Berry, now 27; DeJesus, now 23, and Michelle Knight, believed to be 32, are released from MetroHealth Medical Center.  

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