Cleveland Kidnap Victim Gina DeJesus’ Mother: ‘I Forgave’ Ariel Castro

Nancy Ruiz, the mother of Cleveland kidnap victim Gina DeJesus, recently told ABC’s 20/20 that she does not hate Ariel Castro, the man who held her daughter captive for nine years.

“I would hug him and I would say, ‘God bless you,'” Ruiz told David Muir in an exclusive interview Thursday. ‘I did not hate him. I forgave him years ago. I said it: I forgive whoever done it, just let her go.”

Ruiz added, “Because you know what? When you start to hate a person, that eats you up. I don’t have time for that. I have to be, you know, I want to be happy, like I am now.”

Ruiz and Castro knew each other for years, having lived in the same neighborhood. Her sister also lives less than three blocks from the house where DeJesus and two other women were being held, and Ruiz said she walked by the home regularly.

In the years following DeJesus’ abduction, Castro would offer the family his support. Ruiz had no idea the man who appeared so concerned with her family’s plight was the same person who stole her daughter.

DeJesus was kidnapped in 2004 when she was 14 years old. Two other women, Amanda Berry and Michelle Knight, were also kidnapped and kept chained in the basement. During the time they were kept captive, Berry gave birth to a daughter who is now 6 years old.

The women were finally freed Monday, when Berry — who had gone missing in 2003 when she was 16 — called 911 and directed authorities to the home where she and the others were being held. Berry ran out of the home carrying a baby and screaming, “Help me!” Charles Ramsey, one of Castro’s neighbors, was there to witness Berry’s escape, and said he “knew something was wrong when a little pretty white girl ran into a black man’s arms.”

Ramsey’s interview has since gone viral, and he is being widely considered a hero for helping rescue the three women.

In another happy, but still kind of sad, twist in this case, Ruiz and her family have offered to “adopt” 30-year-old Michelle Knight. Knight has refused to return to her family, blaming them for failing to look for her all those years. But after being held captive with Berry and DeJesus for so long, it was hard for the three women to be separated once they were eventually freed. Because of that, DeJesus’ family is “going to take her in as their own family member and help her,” according to family friend Lily Collins.

What do you think of Nancy Ruiz’s decision to forgive Ariel Castro and “adopt” Michelle Knight?