Here's a strange twist in the already bizarre story unfolding out of Ohio, where three women who had been missing for the past decade were found alive in a Cleveland home last night: The son of one of the three men arrested in connection with the case wrote an article for a local community newspaper about the disappearance of one of the girls only months after she went missing. In the process of his reporting, the son appears to have interviewed the missing girl's mother.
Police have identified the main suspect as 52-year-old Ariel Castro, a former Cleveland school bus driver who owns the two-story house from which the three women were rescued. Castro and his son, now 31, share the same name, something that intially caused some premature speculation that it was the suspect himself who wrote the 2004 article for the Plain Press titled "Gina DeJesus’ disappearance has changed her neighborhood." It turns out, however, the byline belonged to Castro's son, Ariel "Anthony" Castro, who was then a journalism student at Bowling Green State University when he wrote the article only months after DeJesus went missing.
NBC affiliate WKYC's Sarah Shookman did the legwork to track down the younger Castro. "This is beyond comprehension ... I'm truly stunned right now," he told her. Chuck Hoven, the editor of the community newspaper, also confirmed that Castro wrote the story for the paper as a class assignment.
DeJesus, now 23, went missing in April 2004 while walking home from her middle school in the same part of the city where one of the other missing girls, Amanda Berry, disappeared one year earlier. Both of the women, along with a third, Michelle Knight, were rescued Monday night from the elder Castro's home in a residential neighborhood not far from where all three had last been seen alive.
Here's how the younger Castro opened his article, published in June 2004:
Since April 2, 2004, the day 14-year-old Gina DeJesus was last seen on her way home from Wilbur Wright Middle School, neighborhood residents have been taken by an overwhelming need for caution. Parents are more strictly enforcing curfews, encouraging their children to walk in groups, or driving them to and from school when they had previously walked alone.
“You can tell the difference,” DeJesus’ mother, Nancy Ruiz said. “People are watching out for each other’s kids. It’s a shame that a tragedy had to happen for me to really know my neighbors. Bless their hearts, they’ve been great.”
On Cleveland ’s west side, it is difficult to go any length of time without seeing Gina’s picture on telephone poles, in windows, or on cars along the busy streets. “People are really looking out for my daughter,” Ruiz said.