Police looking for more kidnap victims after rescue

posted at 10:41 am on May 8, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

Almost as soon as word went out that three long-missing young women had been found alive as prisoners inside a Cleveland home, people began to wonder — could there have been more? According to Fox News, at least one of the women believes there were, and police have begun to search for signs of a 14-year-old girl who went missing six years ago:

Cleveland police are searching properties Wednesday morning near the home called a ‘house of horrors’ after they were reportedly alerted by one of the kidnap victims that there may be more women.

Details of a possible fourth victim came to light during police interviews with the oldest victim, Michelle Knight, who reportedly said there was another girl at the home about 10 years ago, but disappeared.

In 2007, Ashley Summers, a 14 year old, disappeared in the same neighborhood. Initially it was believed Summers was a runaway but a few years later, police saw a potential link with the other missing girls.

Knight reportedly told police she was unsure of how many other women may have been in the house because they were all kept in separate locked rooms.

So far, though, police haven’t found any bodies of adults or of babies that some sources were forcibly miscarried through beatings:

Human remains have not been found at the home on Seymour Avenue where three missing women were found alive, according to Cleveland’s safety director.

Marty Flask said Wednesday morning a thorough search took place at the Seymour Avenue home of Ariel Castro, who has been arrested in connection with the kidnapping case.

CNN reports that the police have found plenty of evidence in support of that statement:

Authorities scouring the Cleveland home where officials say three missing women were held for close to a decade have found ropes and chains apparently used to restrain them, the city’s police chief said Wednesday.

“We have confirmation that they were bound, and there (were) chains and ropes in the home,” Chief Michael McGrath told NBC’s “Today.”

The suspects’ interrogations started last night, but it’s not clear how cooperative they’ve been. A judge allowed for an extension of the time needed to book them, but they will have to be arraigned by tonight:

An administrative judge granted police an extension of the city’s usual 36-hour window to charge suspects, giving them until Wednesday evening to file charges against Ariel Castro, 52, who lived in the home where the women were found, and his brothers, Pedro Castro, 54, and Onil Castro, 50, police Detective Jennifer Ciaccia said Tuesday.

Investigators began questioning the brothers Tuesday night, FBI Special Agent Vicki Anderson said Wednesday.

 

Questions are now being asked about how police could have missed the clues, which seem significant — in hindsight, at least:

Two neighbors said they called police to the Castro house on separate occasions.

Elsie Cintron, who lives three houses away, said her daughter saw a naked woman crawling in the backyard several years ago and called police. “But they didn’t take it seriously,” she said.

Another neighbor, Israel Lugo, said he heard pounding on some of the doors of the house in November 2011. Lugo said officers knocked on the front door, but no one answered. “They walked to side of the house and then left,” he said.

“Everyone in the neighborhood did what they had to do,” said Lupe Collins, who is close to relatives of the women. “The police didn’t do their job.”

Police have to have a warrant or probable cause to enter someone’s house without permission, of course.  Without knowing more of the details in these earlier incidents, it’s difficult to blame the police — but those details will surely come out in the next few weeks.

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