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More sickening details are emerging in the astonishing case of three women who were held captive in a house of horrors for a decade. Police have confirmed that the house in Cleveland, Ohio where Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight were held was full of chains hanging from the ceiling, tape, ropes, and bondage devices. Reportedly at least one woman was "hung from the wall like a trophy."
Cleveland's chief of police says that the women were rarely let outside and were often restrained. Both the basement and upper rooms of the house contained evidence that the women were held there -- probably separately.
Other horrific details to emerge include:
- There could have been several pregnancies suffered by the three women held captive. At one point there were reportedly at least five babies in the home. No word on where these children are.
- Some or all of the women suffered multiple miscarriages due to beatings.
- The letters "RIP" and a woman's name were scrawled in the basement, possibly indicating that a woman died or was killed there.
- There were reportedly several opportunities for the women to be found earlier, but it never happened:
- A neighbor reported seeing three women naked outside of the home being led around on leashes, but says when she called police, they didn't take her seriously and never investigated.
- A neighbor once called police after seeing a woman and baby crying in the window, but the police left after no one answered the door. Another neighbor said he called police when he heard a "banging on the door" but that police left after finding nothing.
- On Piers Morgan last night, a neighbor was told by her two daughters that she saw a naked woman in the yard and Ariel Castro ordering her to crawl back into the house. But the neighbor didn't call police for whatever reason. She also reported seeing Ariel park his bus and deliver batches of McDonald's into the home -- despite supposedly living alone.
- Child protective services visited the Castro house in 2004 after Castro, a bus driver, left a child on a bus, but took no action. Police have said they have no record of the complaints neighbors are alluding to.
- The windows and backyard of the house were eventually covered and boarded up so that no one could see into either.
- Ariel Castro would "train" the women by pretending to leave the house and then beat them if they tried to flee.
- Ariel Castro would leave the house for days at a time, meaning the women and Amanda's 6-year-old daughter probably went for long stretches without eating. (The women were admitted to the hospital with dehydration and malnourishment.)
What is astonishing is that there seems to have been tiny glimpses of humanity within the unspeakable horror -- such as the fact that neighbors say that Amanda's daughter, Jocelyn, was sometimes seen with Ariel, who bought her sweets and seemed nice to her. He reportedly told people it was his girlfriend's daughter.
As FBI agent Steve Anthony said: "These three ladies provided us with the definition of survival and perseverance." And that's actually an understatement.
Is this story haunting you?
Image via AP