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Kidnapping, rape charges approved against one suspect

Published: Wednesday, May 08, 2013 @ 11:37 AM
Updated: Thursday, May 09, 2013 @ 2:15 AM

Kidnapping victims

Amanda Berry, 27

Michelle Knight, 32

Gina DeJesus, 23


Ariel Castro, 52

Pedro Castro, 54

Onil Castro, 50

In a Wednesday evening press conference Cleveland prosecutors announced four counts of kidnapping and three counts of rape against 52-year-old Ariel Castro in the decade long confinement of Amanda Berry, Michelle Knight, and Gina DeJesus.

He will be arraigned tomorrow in Cleveland Municipal Court and then Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court will take over the case.

Victor Perez, chief city prosecutor, said there is no evidence that the other two individuals taken into custody, Castro’s brothers, had anything to do with holding the women. They are both scheduled to be arraigned on unrelated misdemeanor warrants tomorrow, but are not facing charges in this case at this time.

Police said the belief that the two are not involved stemmed from statements by both individuals as well as the victims. “We found no facts to link them to the crime,” said Cleveland Deputy Police Chief Ed Tomba said.

Cleveland Safety Director Marty Flask said police and FBI agents have completed their search of the house where the three women were held captive for nearly a decade, but will not discuss the results of that search or any evidence collected at this time.

“This is an ongoing investigation and there is evidence that cannot be disclosed.”

Police said the rape victims listed on Castro’s charges are Berry, Knight and DeJesus. The kidnapping charges involve the three women and Berry’s child.

Police said the paternity of that child has not yet been determined.

Officials gave some brief new details about the women’s confinement saying they were not held in the same room and they never left the property, venturing only twice from the main house to the garage.

Late developments on Wednesday night indicated the baby Amanda Berry gave birth to while being held captive was delivered by Michelle Knight, after Ariel Castro grabbed her and told her to deliver the baby, CNN reported. According to CNN, the baby reportedly stopped breathing and Castro allegedly said, “if that baby dies, I’m going to kill you.”

Two of three women returned home to their families Wednesday.

Gina DeJesus returned to her home around 2:40 p.m. today. When she exited the van, she gave a thumbs-up to the crowd before being swiftly ushered with her family into the house.

Amanda Berry, the victim who escaped and called for help, arrived at her family’s residence just before noon.

Michelle Knight remains in the hospital but is in good condition.

After Berry’s arrival home, her sister Beth addressed the media. With high emotion, she said the family is thankful for the support and wants privacy.

She also said Berry was inside the home with her child.

About 100 neighbors and Berry’s friends were gathered outside of the home waiting to see her. Balloons and a banner adorned the front porch of the two-story house.

Haley Maggard, whose sister lives near the Berry residence, was there today when Amanda returned.

“I’m really excited they’re all alive. It’s really emotional,” she told WHIO and Dayton Daily News reporter Andy Sedlak.

Maggard said her family also knows Knight and had custody of Knight’s children, she said.

“They would talk about her a lot,” Maggard said of the kids.

A neighbor of the Berry family, Heaven Barrientos, knows Berry’s sister Beth and said the family is tight-knit.

“I’m lost for words, I think it’s amazing that she’s home,” Barrientos said. “I’m kind of thinking … that she just wants her space right now … to get herself together and in tune with this new world that we live in.”

DeJesus’ home is also decorated with balloons and a banner. In a news conference at the DeJesus house, police told media members they must clear out by Friday morning and will not be permitted on the street of the home.

Investigators so far have been tight-lipped about what was found in the Castro home. Cleveland officials said today ropes and chains were recovered from the 2207 Seymour Ave. residence, though they didn’t say how those were used.

A thorough search of the property did not reveal any human remains, officials said.

Other developments:

— Police are looking for evidence of more victims

— A 6-year-old girl believed to be Berry’s daughter was found with the victims

— Ariel Castro is the owner of the Seymour Avenue home and his son, Anthony Castro told police he kept locks on all doors and would not allow him inside

— Anthony Castro wrote an article about one of the missing women when he was a college journalism student

— DeJesus’ uncle said he played in bands with Castro over the last 20 years

Sheriff uses game show-style ‘Wheel of Fugitives’ to catch criminals

Published: Wednesday, March 15, 2017 @ 1:41 PM
Updated: Wednesday, March 15, 2017 @ 1:41 PM

            A sheriff in Florida is using an unusal new weapon to catch criminals and says it's a success. A game show-style 'Wheel of Fugitives' is recorded and posted to Facebook every week.
            Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
A sheriff in Florida is using an unusal new weapon to catch criminals and says it's a success. A game show-style 'Wheel of Fugitives' is recorded and posted to Facebook every week.(Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

The Brevard County Sheriff’s office in central Florida is putting an unusual spin on the agency’s search for wanted criminals.

Using a game modeled on the big wheel in the long-running game show “Wheel of Fortune,” the office posts Facebook videos of its own version of the game called “Wheel of Fugitives.”

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“It’s time for ‘Wheel of Fugitives,’ the game that fugitives hate and citizens love,” the department posted on its Facebook page to alert users that the game is about to begin.

Sheriff Wayne Ivey, the game’s version of Pat Sajak, said during interviews on the unusual law enforcement tool that officers have been using the game for the past 18 months to find and arrest many fugitives.

Florida sheriff spins the "Wheel of Fugitive" to fight crime!

Posted by Fox & Friends on Wednesday, March 15, 2017

“When we put someone up on the ‘Wheel of Fugitive,’ our citizens start sending us messages and contacting us right away,” Ivey said in an interview with CBS News.

Here’s how it works. Ivey spins a wheel with the pictures of 10 wanted criminals attached to it. Whichever photo the wheel lands on is declared the unlucky “winner” and is the person the department will search for with help from all the Facebook users who watch the video.

Ivey said the game has helped catch dozens of wanted felons.

Police: Elderly woman hears grandson stab her daughter to death

Published: Tuesday, December 20, 2016 @ 10:00 AM
Updated: Tuesday, December 20, 2016 @ 10:00 AM

An elderly Texas woman listened helplessly over the phone Friday night as her grandson stabbed her daughter to death, police said.

Dedré Jefferson and her mother, Ella Jefferson, were worried about Blake Jefferson, a 22-year-old student at Texas Southern University, according to police. ABC 13 in Houston reported that Blake had begun having “spiritual visions” and, on a recent Sunday, ran into a local church and interrupted services to tell the congregation about those visions.

Dedré Jefferson, a former longtime teacher who last year was elected to the Alief ISD’s board of trustees, had made an appointment for her son to talk to someone about his mental health on Friday, a family friend told the news station.

That appointment came too late.

The Houston Chronicle reported that Ella Jefferson, 73, got a phone call around 2 a.m. Friday from her 48-year-old daughter, who told her that Blake Jefferson was acting strange. She said she thought her son had taken some pills.

Ella Jefferson told her daughter to run away and find help.

“I can’t. He’s stabbing me,” Dedré Jefferson told her mother just before the phone went dead, the Chronicle reported.

Ella Jefferson called police and drove to the townhouse that her daughter and grandson shared. She also called the family’s minister, Gregg Patrick, who met her in front of the home.

“She was screaming, ‘I think he killed my daughter,’” Patrick told the newspaper.

When sheriff’s deputies arrived, they and Ella Jefferson found Dedré Jefferson’s body in the garage of the home. She had been stabbed multiple times.

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Blake Jefferson was arrested for murder a short time later in a neighboring townhouse after breaking into the unit and hiding in a closet, the Chronicle said.

Family and friends are left trying to figure out why the young man, who had no criminal record, attacked his mother.

“At this point, we have no idea what the argument was, or if there was even an argument,” Harris County sheriff’s Sgt. Ben Beall told the Chronicle.

KHOU reported that Blake Jefferson sobbed loudly Monday morning during a brief court appearance in his case. He is being held without bond in the Harris County jail.

A candlelight vigil was held Monday night to remember Dedré Jefferson, who Alief ISD Superintendent H.D. Chambers described as a “proud Alief ISD graduate, former employee and current board member.”

School board members also released a statement in which they said they are “devastated by the tragic loss” of their friend and colleague.

“You will not find a bigger advocate for public education than Dedré Jefferson,” the statement read. “She made a lasting impression on everyone she met in the community. Her impact will be felt for a very long time in Alief. She will be missed by many.”

Jefferson’s funeral is set for Thursday. 

Fort Recovery teacher guilty of sexual battery

Published: Wednesday, August 07, 2013 @ 4:29 PM
Updated: Wednesday, August 07, 2013 @ 4:29 PM

After emotional testimony from the victim in day two of the trial of a former Fort Recovery teacher charged with sexual battery, the defendant changed his plea as part of a deal with the prosecutor.

Christopher Summers, 33, pleaded guilty to eight counts of sexual battery by a teacher or other person in authority serving in a school, according to proceedings today in Mercer County Common Pleas Court.

Summers was initially facing 47 felony counts, including two counts of rape, involving a student at Fort Recovery High School.

The victim, a 19-year-old Fort Recovery graduate, testified that Summers sexually assaulted her multiple times when she was a 16-year-old student.

Others who testified for the prosecution included a coach, former baseball player and a principal.

Summers faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison for each count, according to Mercer County Prosecutor Matthew K. Fox.

Fox said there’s a pending case against Summers in Darke County involving the same victim.

“I’m proud of the job the victim did today. She’s an amazing young lady,” Fox said.

Summers remains on house arrest. He is scheduled to be sentenced in Mercer County next month.

Ft. Recovery teacher gets more prison time for student sex

Published: Friday, October 11, 2013 @ 2:25 PM
Updated: Friday, October 11, 2013 @ 2:25 PM

A former Fort Recovery teacher was given another year in prison today after already getting 20 years in a sex case involving his student.

Christopher Summers, 33, will serve 21 years total for a relationship he had with a 16-year-old. In Darke County Common Pleas Court today, he was given one year on a count of sexual battery.

He faced up to five years on the charge.

Summers apologized today in court, telling the victim, the victim's family and his wife that he is remorseful.

The victim's testimony during the trial revealed a pattern by Summers of manipulation punctuated with sexual, physical and mental abuse and nearly 1,000 phone calls and text messages all hours of the day and night.

The victim, now 19, and her mother gave statements in court, as did Summers and his wife.

"I'm so sorry for what I did to her," Summers said. "She's entirely blameless, I'm not the monster they've tried to make me out to be."

His wife, Laurie Summers, spoke in support of her husband of eight years.

"I am completely convinced that Chris will never put himself in a position where this could happen again," she said. "If I thought there was even the slightest chance that this would happen again I would not be standing by Chris."

The victim's mother said the defendant can't be trusted "outside of a locked facility."

The victim said she has "much to say," but not the words nor "strength to put myself through it again."

"I will be forever changed by what Mr. Summers did to me. As time goes on I will be able to deal more and more, but the hurt will always be there," she said.

Summers will have to register as a tier III sex offender for the rest of his life.