CLEVELAND -- As two of three women who were held captive for more than a decade went home to their families and passed by crowds of onlookers Wednesday, charges were filed against the man accused of kidnapping and raping them.
Ariel Castro, 52, faces four counts of kidnapping and three counts of rape. He is scheduled to be arraigned in Cleveland Municipal Court today.
During a news conference Wednesday, officials confirmed that the three victims -- Amanda Berry, 27, Gina DeJesus, 23, and Michelle Knight, 32 -- were raped, allegedly by Mr. Castro.
Police said the suspect provided them with a lengthy statement and is cooperating with investigators.
Mr. Castro's brothers, Pedro, 54, and Onil, 50, who had been taken into custody as additional suspects, are not being charged with any crimes as it relates to the women.
The two brothers do have outstanding warrants, officials said.
In the time the women were held in Mr. Castro's Seymour Avenue home in Cleveland's near west side, near the Tremont neighborhood, they recalled leaving the home only twice, said Edward Tomba, deputy chief of Cleveland police.
The women, wearing disguises, went from the home to the garage, not once leaving the property.
Monday marked the first opportunity the women had to escape, Chief Tomba said.
"Something must have clicked, and [Ms. Berry] saw an opportunity and she took that opportunity," he said.
He would not elaborate on how Ms. Berry was able to free herself and yell for help from neighbors.
Investigators said the women apparently were bound with ropes and chains. A city councilman briefed on the case said they were subjected to prolonged sexual and psychological abuse and suffered miscarriages.
Chief Tomba declined to comment about the 6-year-old girl found in Mr. Castro's home. Officials believe that the girl is the daughter of Ms. Berry, and said a paternity test would be conducted.
Police would not comment on other possible births.
Neighbors reported seeing the young girl with the suspect on a handful of occasions. Despite neighbors' accounts of seeing naked women crawling around in the backyard, police said there was no evidence to substantiate those claims.
Wednesday night, Ms. Knight was reported to be still at MetroHealth Medical Center, in good condition.
Ms. Berry was the first to go home Wednesday, taken into her sister's home through a back door, out of sight of hundreds of reporters and onlookers in the neighborhood. The home was decorated with balloons and stuffed animals. One banner read, "We never lost hope Mandy."
Ms. Berry's sister was swarmed by dozens of reporters as she made a brief statement asking for people to respect the family's privacy.
As she was encircled, one woman screamed, "Shame on you!" to the media. "You can't run up on people like that," she said.
Marianne Schulte, 57, who lives near Ms. Berry's sister, came to experience the homecoming for herself. "It's amazing," she said. "I never expected this."
Ms. Schulte did not take issue with the media presence, but said the rush on Ms. Berry's sister was disrespectful. "Let's show some respect," she said. "... If they keep doing that, the media will hinder the healing."
She also hoped that the media would show that Clevelanders are quick to come together in times of celebration and mourning. "Most neighborhoods in Cleveland do care about their neighbors," she said. "In my experience, most people don't turn a blind eye."
Hours later, Ms. DeJesus returned home to clapping and cheers. Her family's home also was decorated with balloons, stuffed animals and welcoming banners.
"Give us time and privacy to heal," said Sandra Ruiz, Ms. DeJesus' aunt. Ms. Ruiz asked the community to not retaliate against the Castro family.
Ms. DeJesus' father, Felix, pumped his fist and spoke enthusiastically about the return of his daughter.
He said he wants to become an activist and help other families with missing children. He also urged people to keep a close watch on their children and others in their neighborhoods.
"Too many kids these days come up missing, and we always ask this question: 'How come I didn't see what happened to that kid?' Why? Because we chose not to."
Hundreds of people gathered at that home as well.
"This is crazy," said Alysa Cooper, 20, of Cleveland. "Honestly, this is a miracle."
Though Ms. Cooper never met any of the women, she said: "They're kind of like our family. I wish I could have done more to help them."
There is no doubt, Ms. Cooper said, that the women will overcome the struggles to adjust and heal. "[They were] strong enough to survive those 10 years. I know [they] can survive this," she said.
Lashonda Beauregard, 32, of Maple Heights, wanted to be at Ms. DeJesus' homecoming to support the family. "I have four daughters," she said. "I couldn't imagine."
Police said FBI crime-scene technicians had completed their search of the home where the women were kept, but declined to say what evidence was taken from the scene.
As a result of the ongoing investigation, an additional house was being searched by the FBI, Chief Tomba said.
Seymour Avenue was again a hive of activity Wednesday.
Early, Maria Castro-Montes, a cousin of Mr. Castro, said her family had no idea that the women were in the house and were "stunned and shocked."
"We're as devastated as everyone else," said the 45-year-old hospital administrator.
She asked that the Castro family not be judged by the "horrible actions" of her cousin.
Mrs. Castro-Montes said her family would "love nothing more than to help these victims." It would be "an honor and a privilege" to "help mend the pain these girls have gone through," she said.
In the afternoon, a prayer vigil was held by concerned community members. Led by Angel Lozada of Cleveland, more than a dozen people joined hands in a circle and prayed for the victims to find strength and for the community to be united.
First Published May 8, 2013 10:30 PM