Nearly five years ago, three women got a new lease on life when they escaped captor Ariel Castro's "house of horrors." After pleading guilty to charges of rape, kidnapping, and aggravated murder, the 53-year-old committed suicide in his cell one month into his life sentence. With that nightmare past them, we can't help but wonder how the Cleveland kidnapping victims — Michelle Knight, Amanda Berry, and Georgina “Gina” DeJesus — are doing now.
Michelle is back in the headlines these days on account of her newly released, second memoir, Life After Darkness: Finding Healing and Happiness After the Cleveland Kidnappings. According to People magazine, she changed her name to Lillian Rose Lee — inspired by her favorite flowers. The now-37-year-old, who was abducted when she was 20, is an artist, author, and speaker. She also volunteers at local animal shelters, and recently launched a foundation, Lily's Ray of Hope, to support women and girls who are victims of child abuse, human trafficking, and domestic violence.
“I don’t dwell on the past. I really try to look forward,” she previously told the mag. “I want to be remembered as a victor, not a victim.”
Amanda Berry, meanwhile, was abducted when she was 16 and remembers seeing news reports about her disappearance during her captivity. Now 32, she hosts a daily news segment about missing persons for Cleveland’s Fox 8.
“When I was missing, the people who were looking for me never gave up,” she said in a statement last February. “My wish is that this segment will not only help find those who are missing, but offer hope for the loved ones who are looking for them.”
People reports that Gina, 28, has chosen to stay out of the spotlight, and is enjoying her freedom with close family members in her home outside of Cleveland. She recently joined the Northeast Ohio Amber Alert Committee to support survivors and their families. She and Amanda wrote a book together called Hope: A Memoir of Survival in Cleveland, which hit shelves in 2015.
The duo previously shared that they don’t keep in touch with Michelle, revealing that their captor played mind games in an effort to keep them from trusting one another. “We’re two different people,” Amanda shared. “We all went through something really, really bad that probably only the three of us will ever understand. I wish her the best in the future.”
Michelle added, “I’m letting them go their own way and they’re letting me go my way. In the end, I hope that we get back together again.”