After a decade in horrendous captivity, she uses her freedom to help those in need – including her five dogs
By Justyne Yuen-Lee
Credit: People Magazine
Between 2002 and 2004, in Tremont, Cleveland, three young women vanished off the streets and were not seen again until May 6, 2013. The kidnappings and subsequent torture, abuse, and captivity scarred the lives of Gina DeJesus, Amanda Berry, and Michelle Knight. Knight, now known as Lily Rose Lee, was the first to be taken, when on her way to a court hearing for the custody of her 2-year-old son under the guise of seeing a puppy.
During the eleven years that followed, Michelle was beaten almost daily, sexually assaulted, and chained in her room with only a bucket to relieve herself. In the first year, she was not permitted a shower, was given a puppy which her captor killed after an attempt to escape, and witnessed her captor kidnap two more teenage girls to be a part of his “family”.
During their time there, Michelle was pregnant around five times and with each pregnancy, her captor starved her and beat her until her baby was aborted. Amanda Berry, however, was allowed to stay pregnant and gave birth to a baby girl. The baby girl became the captor’s fourth victim and lived in this captivity until she was six years old.
Then, on May 6, 2013, while the captor was out, Amanda Berry was able to get the attention of neighbors by waving her arm out of the crack of a storm door.
The girls were finally free after a decade of captivity. After immediate hospital treatment, the girls returned to their families. Knight, however, did not. During her absence, the police wrote off her disappearance as a runaway and did little investigation. Her family also made little attempt to find her. Her captor reminded her of this often.
At the trial, Michelle spoke directly to her captor. Ariel Castro was sentenced to life in prison plus a thousand years. He committed suicide after only one month in prison.
Credit: Instagram / @lily_rose_lee
Now, Lily Rose Lee lives in complete freedom and has coped with her traumatic experience by getting tattoos, song writing, art, and travelling around the world speaking about her experience to help those in need of healing.