When Ariel Castro wasn’t home, Amanda Berry and his other captives, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight, tried to live normal lives.
Sometimes, their captor went out with friends or was gone at work. During those episodes of solitude, Berry and the others would sing or dance together, and if it was Thursday night, they watched The Vampire Diaries, People reported.
The girls would spend the next couple hours chatting about the show, but the normalcy would end when their captor returned.
“He would walk up the stairs and just ruin our whole day,” DeJesus said.
Amanda Berry and the others described their life in his house of horrors in an exclusive interview with ABC’s Robin Roberts. They are now living with their families and trying to rebuild their lives since their shocking rescue two years ago; they detail the ordeal in an upcoming book, written with the help of a pair of Washington Post journalists, called Hope: A Memoir of Survival in Cleveland.
In the interview, Amanda, DeJesus, and Knight describe how Castro captured them, their life as prisoners in his Cleveland home, their relationship, and their eventual escape. Details haven’t really been shared thus far, but the charges lodged against the man who kept them prisoner tell a story — 937 charges of kidnapping, torturing, and imprisoning; the girls were reportedly chained, raped, and physically and emotionally abused.
Castro escaped justice by killing himself in 2013 before he could be prosecuted.
“He was always watching us,” said DeJesus.
“Before the door opened, your heart was just beating real fast,” Amanda continued. “You didn’t know why he was coming up the stairs or what was going to happen.”
Michelle was Castro’s first abduction in 2002, and was 21. Berry was taken at 16, the day before her birthday, in 2003. DeJesus was kidnapped a year later, at age 14, Cleveland.com added.
But one glimmer of goodness came from the experience — Amanda’s daughter by Castro, Jocelyn, who is now 8. DeJesus said the child was a distraction for the girls.
“When I was playing with Jocelyn, Jocelyn made me forget everything.”
Until one day, when Castro forgot something — lock the girls in their rooms. Berry described the moment in chilling detail to Roberts.
“I didn’t know what to do, my heart immediately started pounding because I’m like, ‘is — should I chance it?… He could be here any minute, if I’m going to do it, I need to do it now.”
Amanda grabbed Jocelyn, kicked the front door, called 911 and took refuge with police, imploring them to find Knight and DeJesus.
So what kept Amanda Berry and the other alive through 10 years what they described as constant fear? Hope. Roberts said that she wants the interview to communicate that hope, not just the horrors they endured.
“It’s not just about the recounting of the horrors of the time, but where are they now? How do you go about healing whatever you’ve gone through? Hope is what people want to see. People need to know that even the darkest circumstances can be overcome. The passions are still there. The passion for life still is there. He could take a decade away from them, but he couldn’t take their humanity.”
The interview with Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus, and Michelle Knight will air April 28.
[Photos Courtesy Angelo Merendino, Bill Pugliano/Getty Images]