Monday, September 30, 2013

Michelle Knight visits Seymour Avenue, thanks neighbors

Courtesy WKYC

Michelle Knight, right, stands with a neighbor in the neighborhood where she was held for years, on Friday, Aug. 2, 2013.By Becky Bratu, Staff Writer, NBC News

Michelle Knight, one of the three women held captive by kidnapper Ariel Castro, visited the Cleveland street where she was imprisoned for more than a decade Friday and thanked the neighbors for their support.

Knight, 32, showed up on Seymour Avenue around 10:30 a.m. accompanied by a man, Altagracia Tejeda, the neighbor across the street from Castro's house, told NBC News.

"She didn't say a lot; she thanked us," Tejada said.

Castro's home at 2207 Seymour Ave. has a fence around it and a police officer is stationed outside.

Tejada said she asked Knight what was going to happen with the house, and Knight said she hopes a garden will be put in its place once it's demolished.

Cleveland City Councilman Matt Zone told NBC News a meeting will be held Monday to fill out the necessary paperwork and make a decision regarding the timing of the demolition. He said he hopes to have it wrapped up by Friday.

Tejada, who has been living in the neighborhood for about six years, said Knight looked content.

"She looked very beautiful, very happy," she said, adding that Knight briefly walked along the street, thanking neighbors.

Knight's visit came a day after she appeared in court and : "I spent 11 years in hell. Now your hell is just beginning."

After Knight spoke and others gave statements for her fellow captives Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus, Castro .

"These people are trying to paint me as a monster. I'm not a monster, I'm sick," Castro said. He described himself as addicted to masturbation and pornography, and claimed that he was "a victim of sex acts" when he was a child.

"I am not a violent person. I simply kept them there without them being able to leave," Castro said.

The three women were rescued on May 6 after Berry broke out of the home and ran for help.

Prosecutors revealed photos from inside Castro's Seymour Avenue home, including some that showed the bedroom, stocked with stuffed animals and other brightly colored children's toys, where Berry and her daughter, who was born in captivity, spent much of their time, FBI Special Agent Andrew Burke said. Others showed chains hanging from walls where two of the women endured their nightmarish captivity.

Castro was sentenced to life in prison without parole on two counts of aggravated murder plus 1,000 years on Thursday.

According to NBC station WKYC, Cuyahoga County Sheriff Frank Bova said Castro will be transferred from Cleveland to the Lorain Correctional Institution in Grafton, Ohio, Friday afternoon.

A spokeswoman for Ohio's prisons department said Castro won't join the prison's general population because of his high-profile case and for his own protection. Castro will undergo medical and mental health evaluations upon arriving in prison.

Matthew DeLuca of NBC News contributed to this report.

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