by: Alexandra Kinias —
Three women who were abducted almost ten years ago in Cleveland, Ohio were finally reunited with their families after being able to escape they captivity. Amanda Berry, Michelle Knight and Georgina DeJesus were kidnapped between 2004 and 2007 by Ariel Castro and were held captive in his home since then. While in captivity, Berry gave birth to Castro’s child, a girl who is now six years old and who was delivered with the help of Knight.
Confined within the walls of Castro’s 1400 sq-ft home, their only contact with the outside world was the television. As time went by Knight and DeJesus accepted their painful reality, according to a law enforcement officer, but Berry was more forceful and determined to set them and her daughter free. Berry staged an escape and with the help of neighbors she was able to free herself and the others who, according to police, they were not constrained, but didn’t run out of the house when the neighbors broke the door down. They were fearful and brainwashed. Inside the house police found ropes and chains. No information is released yet on how they had been treated or how they spend their days in captivity. The women who are all safe and healthy were reunited with their families and Castro is now in custody. He’ll be charged on four counts of kidnapping and three counts of rape.
Investigators are questioning the neighbors, the suspect and the victims. They collected evidence from inside the house that would help them to put the story together. The case is clear and many questions will be answered. Psychiatrists will study the abductor’s personality and motives and their findings no doubt will be helpful in solving similar future cases. However, the question that will remain unanswered is how Castro was able to hide this side of his life from everyone around him for ten years?
Castro lived in an urban neighborhood. He worked as a school bus driver. His neighbors saw him on daily basis; on his way to work, out in his yard, toying with his car or motorcycle, walking with the young girl whom he introduced as his girlfriend’s daughter. He barbecued with his neighbors and listened to music with them. Yet he was able to conceal three women and a child in his home for ten years without raising suspicions.
As the story unveiled, Castro’s neighbors were shocked to hear about the double life he led. They wonder how had they missed all the facts and whether they could have done something to end this horror. Castro left behind some clues that nobody noticed, or cared to notice. Neighbors recall that he always kept people away from the house and brought bags of food more than what a single person could consume. They have seen the young girl whom he introduced as his girlfriend’s daughter. It sounds quite intriguing that no one has questioned the whereabouts of the girlfriend or how the girl was left inside the house by herself when he went to work.
From the photographs of the neighborhood, the houses seem at very close range from each other. I wonder how they never heard the screams of a woman in labor. How they never heard the cries of a born child. I can’t imagine how no one stopped to wonder what was going on, or whether people noticed, but they just carried on with their lives without caring to know since it was not their business. These unanswered questions make me curious to what extent one should mind his /her business or if people are minding their business more than they should. Is watching for suspicious activities considered interfering with the business of others?
Have humans become too absorbed in their own lives, or is it selfishness that drives people nowadays. In the middle of our chaotic everyday life, human relations have condensed into greetings and trivial comments about weather and sports. We are walking the fine line between minding our business, respecting the privacy of others and becoming unconcerned and uninterested in people around us.
If nothing else, this incident raises the concern about the deteriorating human relations. Relations between people are what differentiate us from other creatures. We are the only species that communicate with words, who is compassionate and helpful to those in need, just like the guy who broke down the house door when he heard Berry calling for help. We are social creatures and our everyday relations should become less superficial and more sincere. That’s what made us evolve to who we are and where we are today. If we fail to behave as humans, we will fail our species.