"First and foremost, I want to everyone to know how happy I am to be home": So opens a newly released video of Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight in their first appearance since their rescue two months ago from a decade of captivity in a Cleveland home.
All three women, who were allegedly kidnapped, held, beaten and raped by 52-year-old Ariel Castro in his house on Seymour Avenue, appear happy and healthy, smiling at the camera as they express gratitude for the support shown them by the public. "Everyone who has been there to support us has been a blessing," Berry says, appearing to read from a statement.
In the video Nancy DeJesus, Gina's mother, who also appears in the video alongside Gina's father, thanks the Cleveland Courage Fund, a trust fund to help the women—and Berry's daughter, born in captivity—transition back into normal life. The fund has raised more than a million dollars so far.
The video was released at midnight by Hennes Paynter Communications, the PR firm hired by the victims' families.
Castro, currently in custody, faces charges of aggravated murder—relating to the termination of one woman's pregnancy—and is awaiting additional charges.