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Cleveland kidnap survivor had to prepare room for new hostage

Michelle Knight, one of the three kidnapped women, pauses to wipe away tears as she reads her statements during the sentencing of her accuse
Michelle Knight, one of the three kidnapped women, pauses to wipe away tears as she reads her statements during the sentencing of her accuse

By Kim Palmer

CLEVELAND (Reuters) - Former bus driver Ariel Castro forced his longest-held captive, Michelle Knight, to help drill holes in a wall at his Cleveland house for restraints to secure a teen he had kidnapped, Knight said in a television interview aired on Wednesday.

The first of three women Castro kidnapped, raped and held captive for years, Knight said she heard a girl scream "get off me, get off me" from the basement of the house the day Castro abducted Gina DeJesus, then 14.

"All I can hear is a girl screaming and nobody comes, nobody comes," Knight, 32, told Phil McGraw in a taping for his "Dr. Phil" syndicated program.

Knight has said in the two-part interview that Castro beat her regularly for hours at a time, and that she suffered five pregnancies and forced miscarriages at his hands.

Castro kidnapped Knight in 2002, before taking Amanda Berry, now 27, in 2003. When he took DeJesus, now 23, the following year he initially told Knight that DeJesus was his daughter, Knight said.

"At the time he was telling me I needed to help him prepare another room, and I didn't want to prepare that room," she said.

The women escaped in May along with Berry's 6-year-old daughter, whom Castro had fathered, and the story of their captivity and rush to freedom captured worldwide attention.

Castro was found hanged in his prison cell in September, a month after he pleaded guilty to almost 1,000 charges of rape, kidnapping, torture and aggravated murder. He was sentenced to life in prison in a deal that spared him the death penalty and avoided a lengthy legal process.

Knight said that in addition to beating her, Castro tortured her psychologically, asking her why her family was not trying to draw attention to her disappearance like DeJesus's or Berry's family members were.

Castro would say, "'They must not really love you' and it would hurt because I knew my family didn't care and I knew they were never there for me," Knight said in the interview.

Knight spoke of her friendship with DeJesus but was more reserved about Berry who she said Castro treated better.

Knight has told McGraw in the interview that she watched news coverage of the police search for Berry in 2003 on a television from the room where she was held captive. Knight said she helped deliver Berry's daughter on Christmas 2006.

Berry and DeJesus are planning a book about their ordeal, working with Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post writers Mary Jordan and Kevin Sullivan.

Knight was the only one of the three to testify at Castro's sentencing and said of his death, which was ruled a suicide, that he "took the coward's way out."

"He finally realized the pain he put us through was a pain he didn't want to go through," Knight said.

(Reporting by Kim Palmer; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Ken Wills)

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