Seymour Avenue: A visit to the infamous Cleveland street 10 years later

Have things changed since the horrific incident back in 2013?
Published: May. 5, 2023 at 3:24 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - It’s been a decade since Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight were rescued on Seymour Avenue.

For those who reside on that street, the healing process has been difficult.

Cleveland City Councilwoman Jasmine Santana, who serves this section of Seymour Avenue, said past incidents, before Ariel Castro, have haunted this area.

“I will tell you from growing up in our neighborhood, historically Seymour, there’s a lot of dark things that have happened on Seymour,” Santana said.

Reverend Horst Hoyer was the Senior Pastor at Immanuel Lutheran Church, which was two doors down from the home where Ariel Castro held the kidnapped women for years.

Today, he’s retired, but remembers vividly what happened on that day in May 2013, after receiving a phone call from the FBI.

“The man requested that the reason for the call is that I need to use your building. We need to use your command post in your auditorium,” Hoyer said. “After FBI, came the Sheriff’s Department, Cleveland Police Second District, State Department, State of Ohio. You name it, we had it in our auditorium.”

As the reverend assisted with law enforcement and the community, Hoyer learned that his church served as a beacon of hope for the three victims.

“There was no way that Mr. Castro could keep the sound of these bells out of these walls,” the reverend said.” And Michelle Knight, one of the victims mentioned, that it gave us hope. They knew when it was Sunday morning. They knew when it was Christmas. Those bells were telling them.”

Since then, that bell has remained silent. The neighborhood has changed since that event.

An animal clinic was built at the end of the street and the vacant lot, where three homes once stood.

Santana said that despite the public wanting to create a garden or other community amenities, residents on the street say they’re against it.

“I have residents who are against it and they don’t want to remember it,” said Santana.

Instead, her constituents are telling her that they want the community to be like any other neighborhood.

“They want infill housing, new construction homes, market rate homes and the kind that bring the value of the street up,” she said.

All while the community is still trying to repair the broken trust within the area.

“There’s still a lot of trust that needs to be built and within neighbors that we had and we’ve lost that. And so trying to get that back to that place where neighbors are helping neighbors and they’re coming together,” the councilwoman said. “So we’re not there yet, but that’s my hope.”