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Cleveland kidnapping victim discharged from hospital

Michelle Knight, one of three woman held in a Cleveland house for years, is released from a hospital as more details emerge about the ordeal.

May 10, 2013|By Michael Muskal, Los Angeles Times
  • Yellow crime scene tape surrounds the Cleveland house where authorities say Ariel Castro held three women captive for a decade.
Yellow crime scene tape surrounds the Cleveland house where authorities… (Mark Sullivan, Getty Images )

Michelle Knight, the longest-held of three women kidnapped and imprisoned in a Cleveland house for years, was discharged Friday from the hospital where she had been cared for after her ordeal.

Reportedly in good spirits, Knight left MetroHealth Medical Center on the same day state officials announced that DNA testing had established that Ariel Castro, being held on kidnapping and rape charges, was the father of the 6-year-old girl born to another of the imprisoned women.

Like her fellow captives, Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus, Knight asked for privacy. The other women returned to joyous relatives and neighbors Wednesday in televised celebrations of their freedom, though neither spoke publicly. But Knight's whereabouts was not immediately known and her relationship with relatives has been rocky in the past.

Her mother, Barbara Knight, returned to Cleveland earlier this week from her home in Florida after it was reported that her daughter had been freed. The mother told reporters that she had problems with her daughter before she disappeared but hoped that was in the past.

"I started crying and I was happy that they found her, because I've been looking for her and I just don't want her to think that I forgot about her," Barbara Knight told NBC's "Today" show on Wednesday. "I just wish my daughter would reach out and let me know that she's there."

After their escape on Monday from the house at 2207 Seymour Ave., the three women were taken for examination and medical care at MetroHealth. Officials said all were released Tuesday morning, but Knight was readmitted.

A hospital spokeswoman refused to discuss when Knight returned or what treatment she received. In a statement emailed to reporters Friday, MetroHealth said Knight was grateful to the community at large.

"Michelle Knight is in good spirits and would like the community to know that she is extremely grateful for the outpouring of flowers and gifts. She is especially thankful for the Cleveland Courage Fund. She asks that everyone please continue to respect her privacy at this time," the hospital said.

Knight, 32, disappeared in 2002. The first of the women to be taken, she stayed the longest at the house, characterized by Cuyahoga County prosecutor Timothy McGinty as "a torture chamber and private prison in the heart of our city."

"The horrific brutality and torture that the victims endured for a decade is beyond comprehension," McGinty told reporters on Thursday.

Officials have not released details of the imprisonments, but according to local and national media reports, Knight told police that during her captivity she endured five miscarriages caused by Castro beating her. Prosecutors said that could result in a charges of aggravated murder, which is a capital crime under Ohio law.

The 6-year-old girl freed from the house was known to be the daughter of Amanda Berry. DNA test results after Castro's arrest confirmed that he was the child's father, Ohio Atty. Gen. Mike DeWine said Friday.

Berry led an escape by breaking through a screen door on Monday with the help of neighbors and contacting police. Berry, 27, was just shy of her 17th birthday when she vanished in 2003. DeJesus was about 14 when she disappeared in 2004.

Castro, 52, a former school bus driver, is being held on $8-million bail on four counts of kidnapping — charges that include the child — and three counts of rape.

michael.muskal@latimes.com

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