When a child is kidnapped, the results are devastating, and not only for the families. Their friends, schoolmates, the entire neighborhood is damaged by the act. The silence found over the years leads to nothing but more questions, questions which, for the families of three kidnapped children, Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michele Knight, have now been answered.
On Monday afternoon, the Cleveland 911 office received a call that nobody that morning could have ever expected:
Help me, I am Amanda Berry. I’ve been kidnapped and I’ve been missing for 10 years. And I’m here and I’m free now.
When the confusion had settled, all three girls, now young women, were found alive, having escaped from their detention at the hands of a reported 52-year-old bus driver.
You can hear the frantic 911 call by Amanda Berry for yourself here:
The missing girls were a case of dead ends and conspiracy theories for the greater part of a decade. The hope of finding them alive was all but gone, with the case over a decade old. But that hope was answered for all those who still held it for these three girls.
Amanda Berry was kidnapped on April 21, 2003 on her way home after working at a Burger King. Gina DeJesus went missing just under a year later, on April 2nd, 2004. Michelle Knight is not as clear, but preliminary reports have her disappearance in 2002.
With the return of anyone kidnapped years ago, hope is rekindled anew for the friends and families of missing children across the nation. These stories, of long-held victims, are uncommon, but they do still happen, such as the case of Jaycee Dugard in 2009, found after 18 years missing. But even when they are found, the experiences that these victims have been through changes them.
But those who remember, those who seek answers, we will accept them with open arms regardless.
If you are, or know of a victim of kidnapping, contact your local authorities, or the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
Nathaniel Downes is the son of a former state representative of New Hampshire, now living in Seattle Washington.
Feel free to follow Nathaniel Downes on Facebook.