When three Ohio women missing for some 10 years were found on Monday, two of their stories, those of Gina DeJesus and Amanda Berry, were familiar to a city that had been gripped by their disappearance for a decade. But little had been written or said about the third missing person, Michelle Knight.
A story in the Cleveland Plain Dealer explains that Knight was believed to have departed on her own accord in 2002 when she disappeared. (Adding to the mystery: Sources conflict as to her age at the time. The Plain Dealer says she was 18; police say she was 20.)
Now it's known she was the first kidnap victim of the three. (Berry, 27, was last seen in 2003. DeJesus, 23, went missing in 2004.)
Knight was last seen at her cousin’s house on Aug. 23, 2002. Her grandmother, Deborah Knight, told the paper that based on police and social worker assessments, the family had concluded she had simply left home, angry she had lost custody of her son.
But Michelle Knight’s mother, Barbara, wasn’t so sure. Over time, she couldn’t believe that her daughter, who was close to her, wouldn’t even so much as call. The Florida resident continued to search for her missing daughter long after police stopped looking, papering the Cleveland neighborhood where her daughter had last been seen with fliers.
According to the Plain Dealer, Barbara Knight said she thought she saw her daughter once at a shopping center walking with an older man. She yelled her name, but the woman never turned around.
“I'm praying that if it is her, she will come back with me so I can help her recover from what she has been through," Knight said. "So much has happened in these ten years. She has a younger sister she still has not met. I missed her so much while she was gone."
Three brothers, Ariel Castro, Pedro Castro and Onil Castro, have been arrested in connection with the women's disappearances.