The Daily Item
WILLIAMSPORT — One of the three women found in Cleveland after a decade of captivity was featured on the Williamsport Crosscutters’ team photo in 2010 as part of a promotion that season to find missing persons.
Gina DeJesus, who vanished at 14 on her way home from school in the Cleveland area on April 2, 2004, was found alive along with two other missing women on Monday. All three apparently had been kidnapped and held for years as prisoners inside a house just south of downtown Cleveland.
The Crosscutters team was one of a handful of teams across the country that joined former Williamsport Cubs pitcher Dennis Bair, the founder of BairFind, to feature a missing child on 2010 team photos.
“This is incredible news,” said Gabe Sinicropi, Crosscutters vice president of marketing and public relations. “We hosted Gina’s mother and other members of her family at Bowman Field on the night of the team photo giveaway back in 2010. It was heartbreaking to listen to their story at the time and see the tremendous pain the family lived with every day. While you hoped for a happy ending to the story, deep down you couldn’t help but think the worst.
“The entire Crosscutters organization sends our best wishes to Gina and her family,” Sinicropi said. “At an appropriate time, we hope to reach out to them and invite them back to the ballpark. This time with Gina.”
The three women were rescued after one of them kicked out the bottom portion of a locked screen door and used a neighbor’s telephone to call 911. “Help me. I’m Amanda Berry,” she breathlessly told a dispatcher. “I’ve been kidnapped, and I’ve been missing for 10 years, and I’m, I’m here, I’m free now.”
Berry, 27, DeJesus, about 23, and Michelle Knight, 32, had apparently been held captive in the house since their teens or early 20s, Police Chief Michael McGrath said.
Three brothers were arrested. Police identified the suspects as Ariel Castro, 52, Pedro Castro, 54, and Onil Castro, 50. One of them, former school bus driver Ariel Castro, owned the home, situated in a poor neighborhood dotted with boarded-up houses. No immediate charges were filed.
A 6-year-old girl believed to be Berry’s daughter also was found in the home, said Deputy Police Chief Ed Tomba. He would not say who the father was.
The women were reported by police to be in good health and were reunited with family members but remained in seclusion.
On Tuesday, a sign hung on a fence decorated with dozens of balloons outside the home of DeJesus’ parents read “Welcome Home Gina.”
Her aunt, Sandra Ruiz, told reporters that her niece had an emotional reunion with family members. “She recognized everyone,” Ruiz said.
“Those girls, those women are so strong,” she said. “What we’ve done in 10 years is nothing compared to what those women have done in 10 years to survive.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.