Three women who went missing separately about a decade ago, when they were in their teens or early 20s, were found alive Monday in a residential area just south of downtown, and a man was arrested.
Cheering crowds gathered Monday night on the street near the home where police said Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michele Knight were found earlier in the day.
Police didn’t immediately provide any details of how the women were found but said they appeared to be in good health and had been taken to a hospital for evaluation.
Berry disappeared at age 16 on April 21, 2003, when she called her sister to say she was getting a ride home from her job at a Burger King. DeJesus went missing at age 14 on her way home from school about a year later. They were found just a few miles from where they had gone missing.
Police said Knight was 20 when she went missing around 2000.
Police said a 52-year-old man was arrested. There was no immediate word on charges.
Loved ones said they hadn’t given up hope of seeing the women again. Among them was Kayla Rogers, a childhood friend of DeJesus.
“I’ve been praying, never forgot about her, ever,” Rogers told The Plain Dealer newspaper. “This is amazing. This is a celebration. I’m so happy. I just want to see her walk out of those doors so I can hug her.”
Berry’s cousin Tasheena Mitchell told the newspaper she couldn’t wait to have Berry in her arms.
“I’m going to hold her, and I’m going to squeeze her and I probably won’t let her go,” she said.
Berry’s mother, Louwana Miller, who had been hospitalized for months with pancreatitis and other ailments, died in March 2006. She had spent the previous three years looking for her daughter, whose disappearance took a toll as her health steadily deteriorated, family and friends said.
At Metro Health Medical Center, Dr. Gerald Maloney declined to go into details about the women’s conditions or answer questions about whether family members were with them.
“We’re assessing their needs, and the appropriate specialists are evaluating them as well,” he said.
In January, a prison inmate was sentenced to 41/2 years after admitting he provided a false burial tip in the disappearance of Berry, who had last been seen the day before her 17th birthday. A judge in Cleveland sentenced Robert Wolford on his guilty plea to obstruction of justice, making a false report and making a false alarm.