Amanda Berry endured an inconceivably horrific ordeal when she was kidnapped in Cleveland, Ohio on April 21, 2003, one day prior to her 17th birthday. During her captivity, she was abused physically and emotionally and even gave birth to a daughter fathered by her abuser.
Berry’s captor, Ariel Castro, also kidnapped and held two other young women, Michelle Knight and Georgina “Gina” DeJesus. He kept all three of them imprisoned in his home for years. They, like Berry, were brutalized during their captivity.
Berry and her then-six-year-old daughter finally escaped from Castro’s home on May 6, 2013, when Berry called 911. In the call, she can be heard saying “Help me, I’ve been kidnapped, and I’ve been missing for ten years. And I’m here. I’m free now!” DeJesus and Knight were rescued shortly after.
Despite having been exposed to the worst that humanity has to offer at such a young age, Berry has managed to use her experience for good. She currently hosts a segment on Fox 8 in Cleveland where she sheds light on other missing person cases. Here is more about Amanda Berry’s incredible story.
Berry Helps Find Other Missing People On Fox 8
Since 2017, Berry has done a segment on Fox 8 television in Cleveland called “Missing With Amanda Berry” to help others who have vanished and their families. On each segment, Berry spotlights missing persons’ cases from Northeast Ohio, believing that the renewed media exposure might generate fresh leads regarding their whereabouts.
“I’m just excited to be able to help families who need it and give [the missing] more than just a name,” Berry told Fox 8. “They have a face. They have a family. They have a sister or brother. Just to make it more personal means the world.”
She also recorded a public service announcement on behalf of the U.S. Marshals imploring people to keep their loved ones’ missing persons’ cases in front of the public and telling them and law enforcement officials not to stop searching and hoping.
Berry’s efforts were recognized in 2022 when she was honored with the 69th Attorney General’s Award for her dedication.
Another young woman who was kidnapped and survived is Elizabeth Smart, someone Berry called “one of [her] personal idols.” Berry interviewed her in February 2017, and they had an emotional exchange when they talked about the despair they felt while they were being held against their will.
Smart was abducted from her home in Utah in 2002 when she was 14. She was held by two captors, a married couple, for nine months. Smart now speaks up for those who were sexually assaulted and for people who have disappeared.
“Meeting her was a turning point for me,” Berry said. “I always admired the way she used her voice to help others.”
Berry speaks to students about the dangers of sex trafficking and warns them to be careful and cautious. She said to them that getting into Castro’s van when he offered to give her a ride “was the biggest mistake [she] ever made in [her] life.”
She Is Raising Her Daughter, Jocelyn
Berry gave birth to a baby girl, Jocelyn, three years into her captivity on December 25, 2006. DNA indicated that Castro had indeed fathered the infant. Naturally, Berry experienced an unimaginably complicated range of emotions surrounding her pregnancy, but she did her best to describe them in her memoir.
“I think my mom sent me this baby. It’s her way of giving me an angel. But I worry about what [Castro is] going to do. … When the baby started kicking, I reached for his hand and placed it on my stomach. … I knew the baby would be safer if he was excited about being a new father.”
Miraculously, Berry was able to keep her now-teenage daughter safe, and she has said her little girl is growing up to be a compassionate person who loves animals and is very caring.
One of Jocelyn’s former teachers, Erin Hennessey, told ABC, “Jocelyn is more special than I could even use words to describe. I always describe her as wise beyond her years.”
Berry’s Relationships With DeJesus And Knight Are Complicated
Castro deliberately prevented the three girls from getting too friendly, possibly to prevent them from drawing comfort from each other. He may also have felt that if they bonded, his iron grip on them could weaken.
Good Morning America co-host Robin Roberts hosted “Trapped,” a 20/20 broadcast in 2020 about Berry’s, Knight’s, and DeJesus’ plight as Castro’s captives. She spoke to Inside Edition about the cruel mind games Castro played on them.
He “pitted them against each other,” Roberts said.
During her time as Castro’s prisoner, Berry kept a journal on anything she could find, such as scraps of cardboard boxes, napkins, and paper bags from take-out food. By the time she escaped, Berry had penned a 1,200-page epic tale of courage.
Berry’s writings eventually became a book, Hope: A Memoir of Survival in Cleveland (2015). DeJesus collaborated on the published version, as did journalists Kevin Sullivan and Mary Jordan.
Michelle Knight authored a book herself, Finding Me (2014). According to Cleveland.com, the three women did not explain the rift that eventually arose between them.
Berry wrote in Hope, “We endured the unthinkable together, and we’ll always have that bond. I wish [Knight] happiness.”
In 2013, when Knight was interviewed on television by Dr. Phil McGraw, she said that Castro singled her out for particularly vicious mistreatment because he said that her family wasn’t even searching for her.
Per CBS News, she told McGraw that Castro said, “I can abuse you and nobody would care. No one.”
Knight also claimed that Castro had a soft spot for Berry. “He would always say, ‘I don’t want to make her cry, I don’t want to make her upset or I don’t want to hear her whiny mouth. He would try to make her happy instead of sad.”
Knight mentioned that she helped to deliver Berry’s baby and was told by Castro that if the infant did not live, Castro would kill her.
In contrast, Knight said she had five pregnancies while she was kept in Castro’s home, and each time, she said Castro did things to induce her to miscarry, such as punching or jumping on her stomach.
Of Berry, she said, “Amanda was one of those girls that really didn’t get it.” She acknowledged that they are not close.
Like Elizabeth Smart, Amanda Berry’s harrowing experience has motivated her to help others who have vanished. She is making an impact and has succeeded in reclaiming her life and living it her way.