The three women who were allegedly imprisoned and sexually abused inside Ariel Castro’s Cleveland house of horrors for years are speaking out through an attorney for the first time since being freed May 6. While the women are appreciative of the support they have received from their community and the nation, they are requesting privacy so they can heal, the Associated Press reported Sunday.
Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus, and Michelle Knight thus will remain secluded.
On Sunday, they expressing gratitude for the support of family and community members, while also thanking authorities.
“I am so happy to be home, and I want to thank everybody for all your prayers,” DeJesus said in a statement read by an attorney. “I just want time now to be with my family.”
The victims were 14, 16 and 20 years old when they were vanished between 2002 and 2004. Now, two are in their 20s, and one is in her 30s.
Investigators believe the women rarely saw the light of day and were repeatedly raped inside Castro’s home. The former school-bus driver, 52, is being held on an $8 million bond after being charged with three counts of rape and four counts of kidnapping.
Prosecutors revealed they may seek aggravated-murder charges against Castro for allegedly impregnating one of his captives five times and forcing her to miscarry by beating her in the abdomen and starving her.
During the ordeal, Castro also fathered Berry’s 6-year-old child, Jocelyn, according to a DNA test, AP reported.
Knight, who was the first of the three to disappear and the last one to be released from the hospital, said in her statement Sunday: “I am healthy, happy and safe and will reach out to family, friends and supporters in good time.”
In her statement, Berry thanked authorities: “Thank you so much for everything you're doing and continue to do. I am so happy to be home with my family.”
Knight is currently residing with DeJesus’ family, shunning her own relatives. Castro let Berry and DeJesus watch vigils held for them by their families, but there were none for Knight to see because her family reportedly believed she had run away.
Attorney Jim Wooley said the women must reconnect with their families after being away for a decade, adding they will not do any media interviews until the criminal case against Castro is over, according to AP.
“Give them the time, the space and the privacy so that they can continue to get stronger,” Wooley said.
If Castro is convicted of aggravated murder, he could face the death penalty.