Cleveland police visited kidnap street regularly
CLEVELAND (AP) – Police made regular crime runs to the Cleveland street where three women were held captive in a house over a decade before escaping to freedom, a crime analysis published Sunday shows.
Since the 2002 abduction of the first victim, Michelle Knight, Cleveland police went to the block along Seymour Avenue to take crime reports nearly 160 times.
The analysis published by The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer says that amounted to just over one crime report a month over the past decade for a city block with fewer than 20 homes.
According to the analysis, there were more than 35 assaults, many of them domestic crimes against women and some resulting in busted lips, bleeding noses and protection order violations.
In addition, Cleveland police investigated a dozen drug-related crimes on the block.
It was May 6 when Amanda Berry broke through a locked door, yelled to neighbors for help calling police and enabled Knight and Gina DeJesus to escape.
A former school bus driver, 52-year-old Ariel Castro, has been charged with three counts of rape and four counts of kidnapping, including Berry’s 6-year-old daughter fathered by Castro.
His defense team says Castro will plead not guilty. Two Castro brothers arrested with Ariel have been cleared and released.
The crime analysis also showed 10 people were reported missing, some involving multiple reports about habitual runaways. The paper says all the missing apparently returned home to Seymour Avenue.
Many of the other crime reports on Seymour Avenue, located near Interstate 90 just west of downtown, were quality-of-life crimes including break-ins, stolen cars and slashed tires.
The paper compared the crime reports and found them more numerous than those on the section of Imperial Avenue where Anthony Sowell lived and preyed on women, raping and killing 11 and attacking several more, during a nearly 11-year stretch.
Families who have lived on Seymour for years attribute housing decay to an increasing number of homes that became high turnover rentals. Others say the neighborhood seems safer in recent years after police chased away drug dealers.
Records show narcotics officers searched three homes, including one two doors from Castro’s house. The Castro house has been boarded up and fenced off, with police keeping watch.