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Last week, 27-year-old Amanda Berry managed to summon help to the home where she, Gina DeJesus, Michelle Knight and Berry’s six-year-old daughter were held captive. Not only were the women rescued, but the authorities later arrested the owner, Ariel Castro, and his two brothers. While this news offers hope to those looking for their own missing loved ones, it also serves a blow to their emotional wellness, opening old wounds that may never fully heal.
According to John Walsh, the former host of America’s Most Wanted who profiled both the Berry and DeJesus cases on his show, the discovery of the women is the ‘most phenomenal ending’ to the story, and highlights the importance of never giving up hope. Walsh commented, ‘The not knowing is the worst. It’s torture. But many, many times it’s up to the parents to keep their children’s names in the public eye. And every now and then we get lucky.’
Another such ‘phenomenal ending’ was possible for Jaycee Dugard, who was abducted at age 11 in 1991 and kept in the backyard of a California couple’s home for 18 years. Dugard was rescued in 2009 and published her memoir, A Stolen Life, in 2011. In a statement released by her publicist, she noted that the women will need the chance to heal and reconnect with the world, but the ‘human spirit is incredibly resilient.’ She added, ‘This isn’t who they are. It is only what happened to them. … More than ever this reaffirms we should never give up hope.’
But how does it feel when someone else is found, while your loved one’s whereabouts remain unknown? For more than three decades, Karen Kelly has been wondering what happened to her 17-year-old son, Martin “J.R.” Crumblish, after he disappeared after a party in the woods in Dobbs Ferry on May 2, 1981. She said, ‘I saw [the rescue news] last night and my first reaction was, “Maybe there’s still hope in my heart that J.R. can be found alive.”. It was wonderful they found those girls. It really touched my heart.’ Lt. Brian Karst, of the Carmel police, added that in these situations ‘you have to keep an open mind and follow every evidence. Certainly [the Cleveland case] gives you hope and encouragement in terms of a positive outcome.’