Ohio Missing Women Case Giving Renewed Hope to South Florida Families

Families of missing local women holding out hope that loved ones will be found

By Gilma Avalos
|  Wednesday, May 8, 2013  |  Updated 10:18 AM EDT
View Comments (
)
|
Email
|
Print
The case of three women who were found alive after going missing for a decade in Ohio is giving renewed hope for South Florida families who have missing loved ones. Patrick Sessions and Drew Kesse comment.

The case of three women who were found alive after going missing for a decade in Ohio is giving renewed hope for South Florida families who have missing loved ones. Patrick Sessions and Drew Kesse comment.

advertisement
Photos and Videos

After 3 Women Turn Up Alive in Cleveland, Memories Resurface of Missing Children Cases in South Florida

The story of three women who were rescued from a Cleveland house after they went missing a decade ago in their teens or early 20s has a happy ending – but it's bringing back sad memories of missing children cases in South Florida. NBC 6's Christina Hernandez reports on the kidnappings of 6-year-old Adam Walsh from 1981 and 10-year-old Jimmy Ryce from 1995. The tragic outcomes of those cases weigh heavily on private investigator Joe Carrillo, who spends a big part of his life working to find missing kids. He said the Ohio case isn't the first time that missing people believed to be dead have turned up alive – and he's positive it won't be the last.

Missing Cleveland Women Found After 10 Years

Neighbors in the area where three missing women were found in a Cleveland, Ohio house cheer the news of their discovery. Police say Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus were found along with Michele Knight.
More Photos and Videos

Prayers were answered for three families in Cleveland, Ohio on Monday when Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus, and Michelle Knight, who had been missing for nearly a decade, were found alive.

DeJesus disappeared in 2004, while walking home from school. But as of late March, her family kept posting on the wall of a Facebook page dedicated to the woman's search.

"Whoever has her, has had her long enough," a message posted in late March read. "Gina, we love you. You'll be home soon."

Scrutiny Turns to Police After Ohio Women's Rescue

Her case is renewing hope in the search for missing women in South Florida.

"It's a big day for me. I don't wish what's happened to me on anybody. I just can't imagine what those parents must be feeling. Must be fantastic," said Patrick Sessions.

Sessions, from Coconut Grove, is the father of Tiffany. She is the 20-year-old University of Florida junior who disappeared after she went for run in 1989.

Suspect in Ohio Helped Neighbors Search for Missing Teen

"She had all these dreams and aspirations that everyone else does. She's everyone's daughter," said Sessions.

In 2012 alone there were about 35,737 cases of missing minors reported statewide, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. The FDLE says the actual number of missing minors is not as large because included in that total are runaways who may have done so more than once.

The numbers may seem overwhelming, but every one son or daughter who comes home is encouraging.

VIDEO: Memories Resurface of Missing South Florida Children

"This is a perfect example," said Sessions. "Tiffany's a longshot [she's been missing for] 24 years. But there's a lot of other kids that have been gone for a lot less than 10 years."

Cases like Jennifer Kesse's. She went missing seven years ago from her Orlando condo. Her family found out about her disappearance when she didn't show up to work.

"It's just amazing. But you hit the roller coaster ride again with your own [child], my Jennifer. And I didn't say 'Why not Jennifer? Why wasn't she one of them?,' but you do have to think to yourself that it can happen," said Drew Kesse, Jennifer's father.

Meanwhile, in Ohio, police have identified brothers Ariel Castro, 52, Pedro Castro, 54, and Onil Castro, 50, as suspects. No charges have been filed but the three could make their first court appearance Wednesday.

The women were reunited with family members Tuesday but remaine in seclusion. Many of the women's loved ones and friends had held out hope of seeing them again.

For years, Berry's mother kept her room exactly as it was, said Tina Miller, a cousin. When magazines addressed to Berry arrived, they were piled in the room alongside presents for birthdays and Christmases she missed. Berry's mother died in 2006.

Just over a month ago, Miller attended a vigil marking the 10th anniversary of Berry's disappearance.

Over the past decade or so, investigators twice dug up backyards looking for Berry and continued to receive tips about her and DeJesus every few months, even in recent years. The disappearance of the two girls was profiled on TV's "America's Most Wanted" in 2005. Few leads ever came in about Knight.

Knight vanished at age 20 in 2002. Berry disappeared at 16 in 2003, when she called her sister to say she was getting a ride home from her job at a Burger King. About a year later, DeJesus vanished.

That the women were found after being gone so long has Sessions more energized than ever. A cold case detective is working new leads in Tiffany's search. As his quest to find his daughter continues, he wants what all parents of missing children ask.

"Don't forget about Tiffany," he said.

Get the latest headlines sent to your inbox!
View Comments (
)
|
Email
|
Print
Leave Comments
What's New
Get Our New iPad App
Now optimized for iPad, NBC 6... Read more
Follow Us
Sign up to receive news and updates that matter to you.
Send Us Your Story Tips
Check Out