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Kidnapping victim Michele Knight has 'hearing damage and facial injuries from years of beatings'

// UK
  • Went missing on August 23, 2002, from near her cousin's house
  • Mother said police and social workers said she must have left of own free will
  • Now lives in Florida but is on her way to Cleveland to be reunited
  • Says Michelle has a 10-year-old half-sister, Katie, she has never met
  • 'I missed her so much while she was gone,' Barbara Knight

By Steve Robson and Daily Mail Reporter

PUBLISHED: 21:15 EST, 7 May 2013 | UPDATED: 05:51 EST, 8 May 2013

Kidnapping victim Michele Knight, one of three women freed from a decade of imprisonment may have suffered horrific injuries during her time in captivity.

Miss Knight, who disappeared in 2002, is reported to be experiencing hearing loss from the years of beatings to her head.

The 32-year-old also appeared to have facial bone damage, sources told the local Fox 8 TV station.

Prayer answered: Barbara Knight seen outside her home in Naples, Florida, on her way to Cleveland to be reunited with her long-lost daughter, Michelle

Prayer answered: Barbara Knight seen outside her home in Naples, Florida, on her way to Cleveland to be reunited with her long-lost daughter, Michelle

New sibling: Knight, pictured left getting into a car, was accompanied by Michelle's 10-year-old half-sister, Katie, right, whom the kidnapped young woman has never met

En route to Ohio: None of the Knight family spoke to reporters before they were driven off at speed in a white car with New York license plates

En route to Ohio: None of the Knight family spoke to reporters before they were driven off at speed in a white car with New York license plates

Barbara Knight left her home in Naples, Florida, yesterday to head to Cleveland to see her daughter.

Barbara, 50, never gave up hope and will now be able to introduce Michelle to the sister she has never met, 10 year old Katie, who was born after her half-sister disappeared.

Katie, who is the spitting image of her older sibling, was with her mother as they left for the airport this afternoon.

None of the family spoke to reporters before they were driven off at speed in a white car with New York license plates.

Barbara was ‘calmly’ looking forward to the reunion according to neighbors in Naples, where she lives with her second husband Tom Hudson and members of his family.

High-profile: The missing person cases of Amanda Berry, left, and Gina DeJesus, right, were well-known to people in Cleveland - but the disappearance of Michelle Knight drew little attention

‘It’s an emotional time for them,’ said Sheldon Gofberg who lives across the street from the family’s house in the southwest Florida town.

‘They didn’t get any sleep last night, Tom told me they were waiting to hear back from the FBI in Cleveland.’

Mr Gofberg said neighbours had ‘no idea,’ that Barbara was the mother of a missing girl and that she appeared to have her hands full looking after Katie and helping with Tom’s two children, Julian, 16, and his sister Alex, 8.

Combing: Cleveland police and FBI agents search a yard. There were apparently signs that dirt had recently been moved in the backyard of the house

Combing: Cleveland police and FBI agents search a yard. There were apparently signs that dirt had recently been moved in the backyard of the house

Free:The phone call made from a neighbor's phone last less than two minutes after Miss Berry escaped the house, pictured

Free:The phone call made from a neighbor's phone last less than two minutes after Miss Berry escaped the house, pictured

Mr Hudson also looks after his frail 96-year-old, Boyd, in the three-bedroom home.

‘They’re a friendly family, Tom would do anything to help you, give you the shirt off his back,’ Mr Gofberg said.

Despite the turmoil at the house this morning Tom kept a commitment with Mr Gofberg to take him to a Home Depot to buy a ladder.

‘We were in the car driving and Tom said, “You know those three girls they found in the house in Cleveland? One of them was Barbara’s daughter.”

‘I was astounded,’ he said.

‘I said, “She’s got to be pretty emotional?” and he said, “Not really because we’ve been waiting to hear back from the FBI.”’

Brothers: From left, Ariel, Onil and Pedro have all been arrested in connection with the abduction of Gina DeJesus, Amanda Berry and Michele Knight almost ten years ago

Brothers: From left, Ariel, Onil and Pedro have all been arrested in connection with the abduction of Gina DeJesus, Amanda Berry and Michele Knight almost ten years ago

Packed bags sat in the hallway of the house this afternoon as Mrs Knight waited for confirmation that is was her daughter that was freed along with the two other captives and a young girl in Cleveland.

The family refused to talk to reporters and TV crews waiting outside, sending the teenage boy Julian, who was wearing an ankle monitoring bracelet, outside to ask them to leave.

There was speculation that the family had signed a deal to talk exclusively to NBC and that the TV network had chartered them a flight to Ohio for the reunion.

Mrs Knight had previously said that she carried on the search for her daughter alone for years because police gave up on the case.

While the stories of missing Cleveland girls Gina DeJesus and Amanda Berry have remained high-profile cases over the last decade, little is known of third captive Michelle.

As yet, no picture has been published of Michelle, either from the time she went missing or since her discovery. 

While family appeals for Gina and Amanda have been frequent and well-publicized over the past ten years, her case appears to have been long forgotten.

Now believed to be aged 30, Michelle was in her later teens or early twenties, when she was last seen on August 23, 2002, at her cousin's house near West 106th Street and Lorain Avenue, according to Cleveland's newspaper The Plain Dealer.

Mrs Knight said she would often put up fliers around Cleveland's West Side and even after moving away, returning to continue the search on her own.

Michelle Knight's grandmother, Deborah Knight, said the family, after speaking with police and social workers, had accepted that she likely left on her own free will.

Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michele Knight were found at this house in Cleveland, Ohio

Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michele Knight were found at this house in Cleveland, Ohio

They believed she was angry that her son had been taken into custody.

Michelle was never registered as missing on the Ohio Missing Persons website.

Mrs Knight told The Plain Dealer she believes she once saw her daughter walking with an older man at a shopping mall several years ago.

When the woman trailed behind her companion, he would grab her by the arm and pull her along, she said.

The disappearances of Amanda and Gina captured the attention of the entire city for the past decade, as their relatives have continually held vigils and kept the story alive in the local press.

After 10 years being held against their will, the women were finally freed after neighbor Charles Ramsey, heard screaming from the house.

Mr Ramsey, told WEWS-TV he saw Amanda, who he didn't recognize, at a door that would open only enough to fit a hand through screaming "Help me get out! I've been in here a long time.'

'We had to kick open the bottom,' he said. 'Lucky on that door it was aluminum. It was cheap. She climbed out with her daughter.

Neighbour Charles Ramsey tells reporters of the moment he rescued the three women and a child from the house

Neighbour Charles Ramsey tells reporters of the moment he rescued the three women and a child from the house

An aerial view of the house on Seymour Avenue in Cleveland, Ohio where the three women were held captive

An aerial view of the house on Seymour Avenue in Cleveland, Ohio where the three women were held captive

When Amanda fled the home and ran across the street to call police, she was holding the hand of a young girl.

'Help me I'm Amanda Berry...I've been kidnapped and I've been missing for ten years and I'm here. I'm free now,' Berry is heard saying in the call to police that has been publicly released.

In January, a prison inmate was sentenced to four and a half years after admitting he provided a false burial tip in the disappearance of Berry.

A judge in Cleveland sentenced Robert Wolford on his guilty plea to obstruction of justice, making a false report and making a false alarm.

Last summer, Wolford tipped authorities to look for Berry's remains in a Cleveland lot. He was taken to the location, which was dug up with backhoes.

 

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