By Brandon Blackwell
Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight each began their hellish captivity the same way — by accepting an offer of a ride home.
The initial report written by police about nearly a decade of physical and emotional abuse endured by the women reveals how each was abducted.
Ariel Castro, 52, charged Wednesday with kidnapping and raping the three women, offered each of them rides on separate occasions to lure them to his Seymour Avenue home, police said.
A Cleveland police source with access to the report filed by the first responding officers said Castro tempted Berry, who was last seen wearing a Burger King uniform, with a ride to her home.
Castro told Berry that he had a son who worked at Burger King, the source said, adding that when Berry entered Castro’s vehicle, he took her straight to his home.
The report confirms what Berry’s family told police after she went missing in 2003 — that Berry had called to say she was catching a ride home after her shift.
DeJesus, who was a friend of Castro’s daughter, told police that Castro offered to give her a ride in 2004 to see his daughter at the Seymour Avenue home, the source revealed, adding that Castro also offered Knight a ride when she was abducted in 2002.
Also revealed in the report is that Berry’s 6-year-old daughter was born in a small inflatable swimming pool during the time the three women were held in captivity, the source said.
The initial report says Castro forced Knight to deliver Berry’s baby. He threatened to kill Knight if the baby did not survive the birth, the source said.
The women were chained in the basement during the first years of their captivity, the report reveals, but were eventually allowed to live unchained upstairs, behind secured doors.
Castro also forced them to wear disguises as they walked outside to the garage, the only two trips they made out of the house in all the years of their captivity, authorities said.
“They had very limited dealings with the outside world,” said Edward Tomba, the city’s deputy police chief.
In some cases, an official said, Castro would test the women by failing to lock a door. If they tried to escape, he would beat them, the source said.
The details came out as Berry, a 6-year-old daughter she bore in captivity and DeJesus returned home to their respective families amid cheers and screams on a sun-drenched afternoon.
The source also provided details on how DeJesus and Knight were found after Berry escaped the home and placed a frantic 911 call.
The first two officers to arrive at Castro’s home crawled into the house through the front storm door. With guns drawn, officers searched upstairs, where they walked a hallway and called out that they were with Cleveland police. That is when one of the officers saw a pair of eyes peeking through a slightly opened bedroom door, the source said.
The eyes belonged to Knight, who fled the room and leapt into the arms of one of the officers and repeatedly said “You saved me.” The officer choked back tears, the source said, and soon DeJesus entered the hall from another room.
Knight complained of chest pains at the time of her rescue, the report said.
Authorities on Wednesday charged Ariel Castro with kidnapping and rape in the decade-long nightmare of three women held hostage in his home on Seymour Avenue, but prosecutors chose not to charge his two brothers.
Victor Perez, the chief assistant city prosecutor, said there was no evidence linking Onil and Pedro Castro to the torture that took place at their brother’s home. Perez spoke late Wednesday afternoon at a news conference as FBI evidence teams searched a second house on Seymour, a few doors down from Castro’s home. Authorities declined to discuss that search or how it is linked to the Castro investigation.
Castro, 52, is expected to appear this morning in Cleveland Municipal Court on four counts of kidnapping and three counts of rape. He also is expected to be indicted within weeks by a Cuyahoga County grand jury.
The women were freed Monday after Berry, with the help of neighbors, broke through a locked door and dashed to a neighbor’s home and called police, ending one of the most heinous crimes in Cleveland history.