Slatest PM: Police Face Questions in Ohio Kidnappings

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
May 7 2013 5:13 PM

Slatest PM: Did the Police Fail to See the Signs in Cleveland?

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People gather along Seymour Avenue near the house where three women, who disappeared as teens about a decade ago, were found alive May 7, 2013 in Cleveland, Ohio

Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

"All Smiles": Cleveland Plain Dealer: "FBI agent Vicki Anderson met with Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight within hours of their escape from a West Side home. 'They looked good,' Anderson said today. 'Thinner than their pictures and with big deer eyes, but they were all smiles. They were very happy to be with their families.' Anderson said agents have scoured the Seymour Avenue home where the women had been held for years, before Berry broke through a door and screamed for help about 5:50 p.m. Monday. ... Agents have not yet asked the women for details about their ordeal. 'Victim specialists will approach this very slowly and with the appropriate methods,' Anderson said."

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In Case Somehow You Missed It: A truly amazing story began to emerge Monday evening in Cleveland, where three women who went missing separately roughly a decade ago—and who their family and friends had naturally feared dead—were found alive, according to local police. Police say that they also rescued a 6-year-old child, believed to be Berry's child, although they would not comment on who the father was. Authorities did, however, say that have arrested three brothers—ages 50, 52, and 54—in connection with the case. Police said Tuesday morning that they have not yet decided on what charges the three men will face. The middle brother, Ariel Castro, appears to be the main suspect. He is a former Cleveland school bus driver who had lived in the two-story house since 1992. More details here.

Prepare Yourself: Slate's Emily Bazelon: "But this is not the ending, and surely little other than the escape will seem happy once the facts begin to flow. That’s already clear from the frantic tone of Amada Berry’s voice when she called 911. How were these women kidnapped and held undetected for so many years? Does their story connect to the still unsolved disappearance of Ashley Summers, another teenager who vanished from the same neighborhood in 2007? Why didn’t the police or child-welfare workers see anything amiss when they visited the address in 2000 and 2004, as the mayor said Tuesday? What about the neighbors, especially given Ramsey’s description of Castro coming outside to work on his cars? And most of all, what were these women’s lives like inside that house? What were their relationships with each other?" Continue reading here.

Those Aren't the Only Questions: Associated Press: "One neighbor says a naked woman was seen crawling on her hands and knees in the backyard of the house a few years ago. Another heard pounding on the home's doors and noticed plastic bags over the windows. Both times, police showed up, the neighbors say, but never went inside. Police also paid a brief visit to the house in 2004. Now ... Cleveland police are facing questions for the second time in four years about their handling of missing-person cases and are conducting an internal review to see if they overlooked anything. City Safety Director Martin Flask said Tuesday that investigators had no record of any tips or calls about criminal activity at the house in the years after the victims vanished, but were still checking their police, fire and emergency databases. ... Four years ago, in another part of town, Cleveland's police force was heavily criticized following the discovery of 11 bodies in the home and backyard of Anthony Sowell, who was convicted and sentenced to death."

More Coverage of the Ohio Kidnappings From Slate—

It's Tuesday. Welcome back to the Slatest PM, follow your afternoon host on Twitter at @JoshVoorhees and the whole team at @slatest.

Still No Decision on Where to Bury Tamerlan: Boston Globe: "Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino will not allow the body of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev to be buried in the city, his spokeswoman said this afternoon. 'It would be disrespectful to our residents to accommodate this individual,' said Dot Joyce, Menino’s press secretary. Instead, the mayor is recommending that Tsarnaev’s family return the body to his native Russia, in accordance with his mother’s wishes, Joyce said. Burying the body in Boston, she added, would run counter to municipal protocol because Tsarnaev never lived in the city. ... Tsarnaev’s body has been held at a Worcester funeral home since Friday, while a funeral director searches for a cemetery that will accept the body. A Worcester police spokesman said today that officials are optimistic that within the next few days, a place will be found."

The Military's Sexual-Assault Problem: New York Times: "The problem of sexual assault in the military came into unsparing focus on Tuesday as the Pentagon released a study estimating that 26,000 people in the military were sexually assaulted in the 2012 fiscal year, up from 19,000 in the same period a year before. The military recorded only 3,374 sexual assault reports last year, up from 3,192 in 2011, suggesting that many sexual assault victims continue not to report the crimes for fear of retribution or a lack of justice under the department’s system for prosecuting them. The study, based on anonymous surveys, was released two days after an officer in charge of sexual assault prevention programs for the Air Force was arrested in Arlington, Va., and charged with sexual battery."

The State of Gun Violence: Washington Post: "Gun violence has dropped dramatically nationwide over the past two decades, but nearly three-quarters of all homicides are still committed with a firearm, the Justice Department said in a report released Tuesday. The report, by the department’s Bureau of Justice Statistics, painted an encouraging picture of long-term trends at a time of divisive political debate over guns and legislation to regulate them. Firearms-related homicides declined 39 percent between 1993 and 2011, the report said, while nonfatal firearms crimes fell 69 percent during that period. Yet the document also made clear that when people are killed, it is still most likely to be with a gun. In 2011, as in the past two decades, about 70 percent of all homicides were committed with a firearm, and the majority of those firearms were handguns."

Mexico City Blast: Reuters: "A gas tanker truck exploded on a highway north of Mexico City early on Tuesday, killing at least 20 people and injuring more than 30 others as a fireball tore through cars and homes. Pablo Bedolla, mayor of the Mexico City suburb of Ecatepec, said 20 people died in the blast that engulfed early morning traffic. Television footage showed burned out vehicles and debris strewn all over the highway on the edge of the capital."

A Few More Quick Hits From Slate's Blogs—

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Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City. Follow him on Twitter.