Hundreds march to give 'forgotten' kidnap victim Michelle Knight the homecoming she never received

  • An estimated 200 Cleveland residents took to the streets on Saturday to give Michelle Knight the homecoming she hadn't previously received
  • Knight is estranged from her family and hasn't seen them since her release from 10 years in captivity last Monday
  • Most marchers hadn't heard of Michelle before her ordeal but said they felt moved by her story – especially her lack of family support

By Michael Zennie In Cleveland

|

Michelle Knight’s disappearance never received the attention that Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus got when they went missing.

Following their rescue on Monday, Berry and DeJesus triumphantly returned to their families with public celebrations. Knight is estranged from her family and did not receive the same public welcoming.

About two hundred Cleverlanders wearing red ribbons turned out Saturday afternoon to ensure that Knight, 32, does not become the ‘forgotten’ victim of alleged kidnapper Ariel Castro.

People walk during a rally for Michelle Knight on May 11, 2013, in Cleveland.
Michelle Knight - Missing teen in Clevelend, Ohio

About two hundred Cleverlanders wearing red ribbons turned out Saturday afternoon to ensure that Michelle Knight, right, does not become the ‘forgotten’ victim of alleged kidnapper Ariel Castro

None of the families who showed up for the march knew Michelle Knight or had even heard of her case before she was rescued from the house on Seymour Avenue on Monday night

None of the families who showed up for the march knew Michelle Knight or had even heard of her case before she was rescued from the house on Seymour Avenue on Monday night

‘We want her to see that we’re here and that the whole city of Cleveland loves her and we’re here for her no matter what,’ Fawn Cassidy, 44, from the city’s West Side, said.

Unlike Amanda and Gina, Michelle was an adult when she vanished in 2002. Her mother reported her missing, but police later concluded that she had likely run away after the state took away her baby. 

 

Her disappearance prompted no local media coverage and the FBI removed her case from its missing persons database after just 15 months.

‘When she disappeared, at one point, she was forgotten. Nobody knew she was gone. She just got lost in the shuffle,’ Toni Urban, 56, said.

Michelle Knight - Missing Ohio Teen Mother Barbara
Ariel Castro

Michelle Knight is estranged from her mom Barbara, while Ariel Castro is being held in a Cleveland jail on $8million bail

People walk during a rally for Michelle Knight on Saturday in Cleveland, the sign reads 'Get well Michelle! stay strong! We support you!'

People walk during a rally for Michelle Knight on Saturday in Cleveland, the sign reads 'Get well Michelle! stay strong! We support you!'

None of the families who showed up for the Michelle Knight march knew her or had even heard of her case before she was rescued from the house on Seymour Avenue on Monday night.

However, they all said they felt moved by her story – especially her lack of family support.

‘As a mother, I know that this woman needs a family. She needs someone there for her after what happened,’ said Clara Perala.

Michelle’s relations with her mother Barbara, who moved to Naples, Florida, are strained. Michelle reportedly did not want her mother visiting her in her hospital room.

Barbara has retained a lawyer to fight to see her daughter.

Many of the people taking part in the march who MailOnline spoke to said they felt moved by her story ¿ especially her lack of family support

Many of the people taking part in the march who MailOnline spoke to said they felt moved by her story ¿ especially her lack of family support

She has also not contacted her great aunt, Deborah, who has been the public face of the Knight family since news about Michelle broke.

On Friday Michelle was released from the hospital and reportedly taken to the home of Gina’s parents, Nancy and Felix DeJesus.

A neighbor, Lupe Collins, told MailOnline that the DeJesus family was trying to ‘adopt’ Michelle as their own daughter because she and Gina grew so close during their time in captivity.

The marchers began at MetroHealth Hospital and walked to Seymour Avenue where they vowed to never again let a missing woman fall through the cracks and be forgotten by the system.

The father of kidnapping victim Gina DeJesus, Felix DeJesus, second left, hugs family members outside of their home during his daughter's homecoming on May 8

The father of kidnapping victim Gina DeJesus, Felix DeJesus, second left, hugs family members outside of their home during his daughter's homecoming on May 8

Despite the pledge, Cleveland police have revealed in the second district alone – where Castro’s house is – there are currently 71 missing people and only one detective assigned to work missing persons cases.

Knight, who was the first captive of the house on Seymour Avenue, was horrifically beaten. She requires facial reconstruction surgery to repair the damage Ariel Castro allegedly inflicted as he bent her to his will.

Deborah Knight told the New York Daily News that Michelle was brutally gang raped in high school before she was ever abducted.

She had a child from the attack, who was later taken from her be state child protection workers. 

Well-wishers of Amanda Berry left cards, gifts, balloons - and this young girl even left a bicycle - as a show of support in front of the home of Beth Serrano - Berry's sister

Well-wishers of Amanda Berry left cards, gifts, balloons - and this young girl even left a bicycle - as a show of support in front of the home of Beth Serrano - Berry's sister


The comments below have been moderated in advance.

There are good people in this world.

Click to rate     Rating   1252

Please help me understand how Michelle's mother can retain a lawyer to fight to see her daughter when Michelle is an adult ?

Click to rate     Rating   1398

omg. yes. I'm soooo happy this happened. it needed to happen!

Click to rate     Rating   974

Michelle Knight and her strong stand about who's allowed in her life brings such a glimmer of hope, and shows a sign of empowerment like I have never heard about before. Michelle's child was removed from her care because her mother's boyfriend abused the child. What mother would choose a boyfriend over her child and grand child's welfare? If anyone deserves million of dollars in a trust fund, an island in the sun & her own security forces to keep her mother and her retained counsel abay, then it's Michelle. Michelle, I SALUTE YOU BECAUSE YOU'RE TRULY AN INSPIRATION <3

Click to rate     Rating   1747

How many times Michelle must have thought of her young son during her time of captivity. I can't imagine the joy of the adoptive mother knowing her son gets to find out his original mother did not abandon him from lack of love all these years. The peace of mind for Michelle to discover her baby was cared for and loved all these lonely years. Two mothers, one essentially back from the dead, for this young boy. Two mothers to be eternally grateful for what each has given. Best wishes of much happiness for this family.

Click to rate     Rating   753

That's really sweet and heartwarming. It brought tears to my eyes!

Click to rate     Rating   675

I'd like to know a PO Box or somewhere to mail these three women cards, gifts, money, etc. Everything I've read just moves me, and I wish I was closer to have participated in this walk/march for Michelle. I'm saddened that he beat her so badly that she requires reconstructive surgery. I hope doctors step up and volunteer to do this for free to speed up the process for her. This will help speed her healing.

Click to rate     Rating   792

That is so COOL of them! such kindness from these strangers............... it thoroughly warms my heart :) Hang in there Michelle, you ARE loved!

Click to rate     Rating   844

That is really nice of the people of Cleveland to do that for Michelle. God bless her.

Click to rate     Rating   889

Michelle, There are not many words I can type here that will help you in your life journey now. I can however send many prayers of strength and courage for you to finally start living.

Click to rate     Rating   732
Share this comment

The views expressed in the contents above are those of our users and do not necessarily reflect the views of MailOnline.

We are no longer accepting comments on this article.