The Cleveland Captives: What Really Happened?

2013, Crime  -  60 min Leave a Comment
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The BBC examines the now-infamous rescue of three kidnapped women who were held captive in a populated Cleveland neighborhood without rescue for ten years. Host Rick Edwards questions how these women could be missing for so long without detection through interviews with the family and neighbors of the women and their captor, Ariel Castro.

Many viewers will remember the case which made national news when victim Amanda Berry managed to free herself to the degree that she could get the attention of neighbor Charles Ramsey who responded to her cries for help, enabling her to call 911. In the emotional audio recordings Berry, who had long been presumed dead, calls rescuers to her prison of over a decade, freeing herself, the child she unwittingly bore with Castro, and the two other women whom Castro had imprisoned.

Building a timeline of the kidnappings, we learn that each young woman was taken from Lorain Avenue, the first being Michelle Knight in 2002, followed by Amanda Berry in 2003, and Gina DeJesus, the youngest victim at just 14 years old, in 2004. In an especially disturbing revelation, we learn that the DeJesus family was quite close to the Castros, with Ariel Castro participating in memorial events and search efforts for Gina when she was, in fact, chained up in his own basement.

Turning the attention to Castro himself, Edwards questions how someone regarded as a friendly, average guy could casually go about living his life while harboring such a sickeningly dark secret. Coming from a tight-knit family that were considered respected members of the local Puerto Rican community, the news of Ariel Castro's involvement in the kidnappings came as a devastating shock to his friends and family. Initially described as a normal guy who drove a school bus, loved cars and played bass in a salsa band, it is also indicate that his violent tendencies were evident in his marriage. He was known to abuse his wife and mother of his four children, ultimately resulting in divorce and loss of custody.

In a harrowing overview of the life lead during their captivity we learn of the living conditions, violent intimidations and repeated rapes each woman faced at the hands of Castro. Following-up with interviews with the medical staff that cared for them in the days immediately after their rescue, their survival is considered by many to be nothing short of a miracle.

Despite the outcome of the women being freed, the audience is left questioning what the appropriate punishment will be for Castro, how he could have been left to perpetrate his crimes undetected for so long, and how his victims will move into the future with so much darkness in their past.

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