CLEVELAND (AP) — The three women held captive in a Cleveland house before escaping a year ago Tuesday have spent their first year of freedom in nearly a decade learning to drive, taking boxing lessons and cherishing time with their families.
Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus both said in statements released Monday that they are thankful and growing in many ways.
Michelle Knight said in an interview on NBC’s “Today” show Monday that she forgives the man who kidnapped and tortured her and the two others. She said Ariel Castro deserves forgiveness because she’d want to be forgiven if she did wrong, and “that’s the way of life.”
Tuesday is the anniversary of the escape from the house by Knight, Berry and DeJesus. Knight, 33, said she doesn’t see much of the other two women, saying “we’re all now living in our own way.”
DeJesus was 14 when she was kidnapped by Castro. She said she’s enjoying learning how to drive and use new technology. “I am spending time with my family and working with Amanda on a book that we are really excited about,” she said.
Berry said the future is bright for her and thanked her family and friends for support.
“On this day, we decided that the right place for us to be was with other families who have gone through what our family has gone through,” Berry said. “I want these families to know they will always have a special place in our hearts.”
Knight — who has a book coming out Tuesday — said she’s a singer who just recorded a song, and she’s also training to be a boxer.
Knight said in the interview that she was surprised when Castro, who pleaded guilty in August, killed himself in prison, wondering “why would he hurt his children like that?”
The three all hoped their captor would plead guilty to avoid a trial, according to documents released by the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office Monday, and the FBI and Cleveland Police Department also did not want the women to be re-traumatized by a trial.
“They say they understand the need to put Castro away for life,” according to a July 11, 2013 prosecutor’s document weighing the pros and cons of seeking the death penalty.
Castro pleaded guilty to hundreds of charges last year and committed suicide in prison shortly after beginning a life sentence.
DeJesus was 14, Berry was 16 and Knight was 20 when they disappeared separately between 2002 and 2004. They were rescued from Castro’s run-down house May 6, 2013, after Berry broke through a screen door.
Berry and DeJesus are collaborating with two Washington Post reporters on a book due out next year. Charles Ramsey, the man credited with helping the women escape from the house, also has written a book.
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This Week’s Celebrity Instagrams (6/18-6/24)
25 photos Launch gallery
1. Me & the homie @jaleelwhite #RujohnFoundation Happy to be in Jamaica! Good times
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5. Good Morning. Early day in Detroit! Making press rounds for @thebossnetwork's Ladies That Lead Tour. Thank you @traycemadre and @colourbynumbr for my glam.
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6. POWER the best show on TV @djenvy, Queens we so big out here. #EFFENVODKA #FRIGO
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7. They said u lost a step, wasn't explosive as once was, the best days was in the real view, questioned your drive, your leadership, your commitment, you don't have killer instinct, going back home is the worst mistake in your career, he got the coach fired, players traded, won't work between him and Kyrie, Him and Kev won't work, love your teammates to much, there's no way he can deliver a championship in his hometown, etc etc etc.... But guess what THATS NONE OF MY BUSINESS #StriveForGreatness #ThisOneIsForTheLand #PutSomeRespeckOnMyName Hahahaha!!! Yes sir
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8. Oooooh weeee this man right here is responsible for at least three of our four babies!! #JOE ❤❤❤🎤 #rnb #king #voicelikebutter #ForPeetesSake
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9. Hanging with my @abcnetwork family! @abcunclebuck tonite y'all check us out ! @anthonyanderson @traceeellisross
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10. My broski ( @sayeedshahidi ) and I are on Top 5 Live on @go90 at 5 (which is super duper close)! Make sure to tune in :) #UncleBuck #Blackish
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11. Lights out💤 #GoodNight
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12. Late nights mornings
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13. Ran into the lovely talented @siedahgarrett on this brutiful favvuz deh!
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14. #halal #love #thedargans #kattwilliamsSHOW #mashallah when that Jennah piece HIT!! @sweetjennahcollection glasses by @baddieglamaccessories LIZ 😍 @dynamiteko top @dazzledmv and jeans @thevision414 and shoes: @louboutinworld
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15. Big Hair and Optical Illusions #OceanDrive #MiamiLiving #coverparty
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16. MAMA and THE SAVAGES ... ⚓️ #supportyourlocalgirlgang
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17. From the bottom of my ❤️, thank you new followers & old! & hello fellow night owls! #grateful #racheltrue #naturalhair #curlyhair #curlygirl #healthyhair
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18. I feel so grateful because I met these amazing young minds, visiting from Houston TX, during their college tour stop today at #usc.These students are ALL extraordinary and embody academic excellence so I'm humbled to have shared a few moments with them to applaud and celebrate their bright futures ahead! Thank you @EmergeFellows for inviting me to speak and blessing me with your love and attention this afternoon!
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19. Happy Fathers Day Pops. U taught me how to be a man. Lessons of love, hard work & gratefulness. Sorry the fishing didn't stick. LOL. I Love U!
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20. Sky Zone and Ice Cream! Best Fathers Day Ever!! Photo credit @mariahcarey
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21. Look what finally came in the mail 😎 #mtvmovieawards2016 💥+🌽! #straightouttacompton
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22. Claudia Jordan: ....
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23. 'Member that time I almost knocked a bajillion dollar camera off the car? Really? Yeah, me neither! #Greenleaf Episode 2 comin atcha!
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24. Full of love. #birthday #Cabo
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25. Oh hey! Look who just joined Snapchat
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