Michelle Knight, one of three women imprisoned and tortured for more than a decade by Ariel Castro in Cleveland, has some words of wisdom for the 13 California children held captive by their parents.
The hardest thing they face, she told Dr. Phil McGraw in an interview airing Monday, is “just being able to live in society and be a normal person. It’s going to be a lot of hard work and they are going to need a lot of support.”
David and Louise Turpin are accused of abusing and torturing their children, ranging in age from 2 to 29. The parents were arrested on Jan. 14 after their 17-year-old daughter climbed out a window and summoned police.
The children were malnourished and had been choked, beaten and chained inside the family’s home in Perris, Calif., authorities said. Both pleaded not guilty in a Riverside County court. They are being held in lieu of $12 million bail and have been ordered to have no contact with their children for the next three years.
“It’s going to take a lot of work,” Knight said of the children’s recovery. “I know they’re definitely going to have a difficult time separating away from the parents because that’s all they know.”
Knight was kidnapped, along with Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus, between 2002 and 2004 and held captive in Castro’s Cleveland house. Berry escaped with her 6-year-old daughter in 2013 and contacted police.
Knight and DeJesus were rescued by responding officers. Castro pleaded guilty to kidnapping and rape and was sentenced to life plus 1,000 years in prison without the possibility of parole.
But one month into his sentence, Castro committed suicide in prison by hanging himself.
“They’re scared,” Knight said of the Turpin children. “They’re alone.”
The six minor children were reportedly split between two foster homes and the seven adults were reportedly transferred to an assisted living facility.
Of the teenager who escaped and ran for help, Knight said, “I know she was scared. I know she didn’t know what was going to happen once she walked out that door. I know her heart fell to the floor.”