Cleveland kidnapping mystery: Where is Michelle Knight?
Michelle Knight, one of the three Cleveland kidnapping victims, was released from the hospital Friday, but not even her mother knows where she is. Her story offers hints as to why she might need more time and space to recover.
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"Thank you to everyone for your support, and good wishes," Ms. Knight's said. "I am healthy, happy, and safe and will reach out to family, friends, and supporters in good time," Ms. Knight said.
For Ms. Berry and Ms. DeJesus, that "good time" could not come soon enough, it seemed. They, after all, have already been reunited with their families in emotional ceremonies that brought an indelible end to a decade of captivity.
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But some time on Friday, Knight left the hospital where she was being treated without even telling her mother. While CNN quotes a source close to the investigation saying Knight "is in a safe place and very comfortable," her family has no idea where she is.
From the first moments after the three women were freed from a house where, police allege, they were taken as prisoners and then abused and raped for 10 years, Knight has been the "other" captive. First, she was the woman for whom no photo was available. Then, she was the woman who didn't leave the hospital. And finally, she was the woman who didn't have a homecoming.
Now, the question of where Michelle Knight is seems inextricably wrapped in the question of who she is – and police documents and media reports offer a glimpse of a woman whose past appeared troubled even before her kidnapping, and whose decade in slavery might have been appalling even beyond the measure of her fellow captives.
Victims of such crimes need no small amount of time and unconditional love to recover, experts say. In Knight's case, a "good time" could understandably be much more than a week.
According to police reports, Knight was the first woman captured by Ariel Castro, in 2002. She was also the only victim not kidnapped as a teenager. Berry was kidnapped at 16, DeJesus at 14. In 2002, Knight was 21. And in that fact is perhaps the beginning of the story of how Knight eventually became the "other" captive.
At 21, Knight already had a child of her own and was involved in a custody battle that might have involved abuse. Cleveland's WOIO-TV reports that records show a man named David Feckley "was charged and convicted in the early 2000s of child endangerment, for breaking Michelle's infant son's arm. He served eight years in prison. But a rape charge was dropped when the alleged victim, Michelle, couldn't be found. Of course, now we know where she was...."
Moreover, at 21, Knight had already become estranged from her family – to the point that, when she disappeared, she was considered a runaway.
When Berry and DeJesus went missing, their families held vigils, raised awareness by posting "missing" signs, and never gave up looking. The girls locked in the house at 2207 Seymore Avenue knew this. They could watch TV. When Berry at last broke free on Monday, she told the 911 dispatcher: "I'm Amanda Berry. I've been on the news for the last 10 years."