On May 6, 2013, electrifying headlines revealed news of the escape of three young women who had been missing for more than 10 years and presumed dead but were in fact held captive by Ariel Castro, a depraved Cleveland school bus driver.
Jordan and Sullivan, Pulitzer Prize–winning Washington Post journalists (The Prison Angel: Mother Antonia’s Journey from Beverly Hills to a Life of Service in a Mexican Jail, 2005) weave together a compelling chronicle of Berry and DeJesus' harrowing experiences in captivity, told in their own words and in a journal that Berry kept on scraps of paper. Berry tells how she was walking home after completing work when she made the tragic blunder of accepting a ride from Castro. Because he was the father of a former co-worker, she agreed to his making a brief stop at his house along the way. Once in the house, he overpowered and raped her and chained her to a bed in a room without windows. The date was April 21, 2003, the day before her 17th birthday. Only gradually did she realize that another victim (Michelle Knight) was also being held captive. In April 2004, 14-year-old DeJesus suffered the same fate. Jordan and Sullivan give an account of the continuing efforts of the police—prodded by their families—to discover their whereabouts. Berry relates how her relationship with Castro was transformed by the birth of their daughter, Jocelyn, in 2006. He doted on Jocelyn and over time became less vigilant, allowing Berry to escape. She also explores her own mixed feelings on hearing of his suicide in prison: “He kidnapped me, chained me like a dog in his house, and raped me over and over but he was Jocelyn's father. She loves him and he loved her.”
A nuanced testament to the complexity of the human spirit.