A kidnap victim from Cleveland has reportedly shunned her family after her dramatic escape from captivity, blaming family members for failing to search for her.
Michelle Knight was missing for 11 years when she was found last week in a dungeon-like house in Cleveland. Found along with two other long-missing girls —Amanda Berry, 27, and Gina DeJesus, 23 — Knight had been in the house the longest and suffered brutal injuries at the hands of her captor, police said.
But while the two other captives have returned home to cheering crowds and yards full of balloons, there does not appear to be the same happy ending for Knight. Instead, the kidnap victim has shunned her family for believing she had run away and failing to look for her.
Knight’s mother and grandmother have been to Cleveland this week, but Michelle kept both of them away.
“No, we haven’t [seen her] — on her request. She does not want to be seen by family,” said Deborah Knight, her grandmother.
The kidnap victim has not shunned her entire family. One of her two brothers, Freddie Knight, had a chance to visit his sister in the hospital.
“Her skin was white as a ghost,” said Freddie. “She told me she was excited to start a new life.”
Police have charged Knight’s alleged captor, 52-year-old bus driver Ariel Castro, with kidnapping and rape.
It appears that Michelle Knight suffered immensely while being held. A police report said she suffered at least five miscarriages, and Castro is accused of starving her and beating her stomach when she would become pregnant.
Knight was a 20-year-old single mother when she went missing in 2002. She had just lost a custody battle, and Knight disappeared after child welfare authorities took her toddler son.
“They took him and she went out and took off and never came back,” said Knight’s grandmother.
Her family filed a missing persons report, but police looked at her as a runaway and Knight’s case did not garner the same media attention as DeJesus or Berry.
Michelle is still trying to keep away from the spotlight after being released from a hospital.
“She asks that everyone please continue to respect her privacy at this time,” a statement from her hospital said during her stay, noting that Michelle did not want any visitors.
Michelle still has a long recovery ahead of her. She reportedly received the worst punishment of the three women, and will need facial reconstructive surgery to heal the injuries she suffered.
While the kidnap victim shuns her family, she also thanks those who have reached out to give her support. The hospital noted that Knight “would like the community to know that she is extremely grateful for the outpouring of flowers and gifts.”