19 Action News Special: Amanda's story

Two years ago on May 6, Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus, and Michelle Knight were finally freed after being held captive more than a decade in Ariel Castro's house of horror.


The story of how Amanda Berry escaped a decade of captivity made headlines around the world.

While she has no problem attracting news crews now, that was not always the case.

Even on the day she vanished in April 2003, Amanda's aunt Theresa Miller made a missing person's flyer, and along with Amanda's mother Louwana, they tried to get TV stations to put the word out.

"They wasn't paying attention to Mandy," said Susie Auliff, Louwana's sister.

That's when Bill Safos spotted them walking into the lobby of his TV station.

"We were like wow, somebody's going to help," said Theresa Miller, also Louwana's sister.

After being turned away by others, Bill got the story and Amanda's picture on the air. It was the right thing to do.

"You helped us and we'll never forget it," said Theresa.

Making sure no one forgot Amanda became the sole purpose of Louwana's life.

There were searches and so many vigils, but never a trace of Amanda or Gina DeJesus, the girl who disappeared from the same neighborhood a year later.

While rallies and vigils for the girls came and went, what stopped coming were the tips.

Without the right clues, police and the FBI were not officially connecting the cases.

So instead, Bill asked Amanda's mother if he could invite Gina's mother and sister over. The idea was to meet and talk about who the girls both knew, and maybe narrow any list to perhaps find a suspect.

"She loved you, Bill. She said you was a good-hearted person," said Susie.

Just before she passed, Louwana's sister asked Bill to come to her hospital bedside.

"You were there, I remember," said Theresa.

Louwana died in 2006, but Amanda's homecoming two years ago reminded Bill of what Louwana taught him with her life: moms aren't just angels on this earth, but above it.

In her book, Amanda writes that her mother gave her the strength and push she needed to escape. The whole family wishes she could have been here to experience a reunion like no other.

For Louwana's sister Theresa, the rescue and the rush of emotion that came with it should have been Louwana's.

They were surreal moments all caught in a series of never-before-seen pictures taken by Theresa's daughter.

"I still just can't believe it," said Melissa Miller, Theresa's daughter.

On the two-year anniversary of that now infamous escape and the hospital bedside reunion, Amanda's family shared their memories and private photos with Bill and said it would be okay to share them with the world.

"We never forgot," said Melissa. "This right here, when I took that picture I thought, that look right there, just incredible, that hug went on for a long time."

And as they remember and relive it all, they can now leave some behind.

"Our family doesn't have to worry anymore, or cry anymore, or be sad anymore. It's all over now," said Melissa.

They say this "happy ever after" may not be perfect, but it is moving forward with a wise word from two amazing young women: hope.

And it is quite a sight.

"We all love you, Bill, you're in our family now," said Theresa.

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