Commemoration service held for 5th anniversary of the rescue of Cleveland kidnap victims

Amanda Berry & Gina DeJesus (Source: WOIO)
Amanda Berry & Gina DeJesus (Source: WOIO)

Tremont, OH (WOIO) - A commemoration for the survivors of the Ariel Castro kidnappings was held Sunday evening where the house once stood in a Cleveland neighborhood.

"It's a beautiful day, a good occasion.  As a community it gives us hope," said community activist Laura Cowan.

For a decade their families searched, keeping hope they would find Gina DeJesus, Michelle Knight and Amanda Berry.

"We were out there with the families who never gave up hope," Cowan said.

Ariel Castro kidnapped the three women between 2002 and 2004. DeJesus, Knight and Berry were imprisoned and raped inside the house.

Cowan says she remembers the miles she walked with their families, putting up flyers, asking for any information on the missing women.

"What drove us was the family," Cowan said.

To walk down Seymour Avenue, it might be easy to forget the atrocities that happened inside a house that once stood on the property, but community members say they will never forget.

"As we look at the fifth anniversary of their freedom, we also have to look at their courage.  They were courageous enough to stand strong when we all thought they were gone," said Kimberly Brown.

Castro pleaded guilty to 937 counts of rape, kidnapping, and aggravated murder.  He committed suicide while in prison.

The community remembers the day as a reason to hope, and have strength for others who are missing

"They have gone on with their lives, despite what he took.  He took a portion of their lives away," Cowan said.

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