Cleveland escapes give hope to many

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 8, 2013

When my oldest was about 2, she got away from us in Walmart. Standing at the jewelry counter, I turned around for 30 seconds. When I turned back, she was gone.

Fifteen minutes and a “Code Adam” later, an associate found her hiding in the center of a rack in the fabric department.

It was one of the scariest moments of my life.

Every day, the news is filled with stories of children who left to go to school, never to be seen again.

In Covington County’s case, it was a teen who vanished from her home in the middle of the night. And every day since Aug. 15, 1997, Kemberly Ramer’s family has suffered the fate of not knowing.

Monday night, the suffering of three families in Ohio ended when Amanda Berry escaped from a three-story Cleveland home to safety. Michele Knight and Georgina “Gina” DeJesus followed.

Knight was 21 when she vanished in 2002. Berry had been missing since 2003, when she was kidnapped on the eve of her 17th birthday, and DeJesus was 14 when she was kidnapped a year later.

All three of the women were found alive in the same home in Cleveland on Monday night. Police arrested a 52-year-old man, identified as former school bus driver Ariel Castro by an area councilman. Two others, identified as his brothers, ages 50 and 54, also have been arrested, though they did not live in the home.

It’s a miracle that Berry was able to break out of the home in Cleveland’s west side neighborhood where she apparently had been held for the past 10 years.

It appears the stories of Berry and DeJesus captivated the city of Cleveland for a decade. The two have been the subject of numerous vigils and city searches. Police have followed leads over the years, including digging up two backyards seeking their remains.

Sounds achingly familiar, doesn’t it?

The women’s situations are mind-boggling on so many levels.

I, like the majority of the world, feel jubilation that the trio – and one small child – are free to be reunited with their families.

On the other hand, my heart breaks for the families of missing children who hear the news and wish that their loved one would be the next one found.

When you love a missing person, you never give up hope. And when one hears a story like that of those three women, it makes that hope just a little bit thicker.

Today, I think about Kem Ramer’s mother, sitting in front of the television, watching and wishing, and I say a prayer that one day she’s able to bring her baby home.