1. Gina Vanished on April 2, 2004, Walking Home From Wilbur Wright Middle School in Cleveland
Gina DeJesus, 14 (now 23), disappeared walking home from middle school and was last seen on a payphone at West 105th Street and Lorain Avenue in Cleveland, about three miles away from where she was rescued.
The girl and a friend had called the friend’s mother [on the payphone] seeking permission for a sleepover at DeJesus’ house, but the answer was no.
After that, she vanished without a trace.
2. Gina Vanished Nearly a Year After Amanda Berry
Amanda Berry was abducted April 21, 2003 at West 110th and Lorain Avenue.
Gina was abducted about a year later just five blocks away and within a block from the McDonald’s that Amanda Berry worked at.
Michelle Knight, who was the first girl abducted on April 23, 2002, was last seen at West 106th Street and Loraine Avenue.
3. The FBI Got Involved
The FBI immediately became involved with DeJesus’ case because of its relation to Amanda Berry’s. The FBI mentioned DeJesus on eight documents on its website, and was offering an unspecified amount for information leading to her recovery.
NBC affiliate WKYC also reported that the FBI combed “hours of surveillance tape trying to find any clue.”
4. Gina Was Featured on America’s Most Wanted with Amanda Berry in 2006
5. She Was Abducted By Her Childhood Friend’s Dad, Ariel Castro
If you watch the America’s Most Wanted video above, you might find something hair raising.
Host Tom Morris interviews the last person to have seen Gina DeJesus: her name is Arlene Castro, suspected kidnapper Ariel Castro’s daughter.
Arlene and Gina were childhood friends.
Arlene Castro was a friend and classmate of Gina DeJesus at Wilbur Wright Middle School in Cleveland. She told the show—which profiles missing-persons cases to draw attention to them—that she was walking with DeJesus and borrowed 50 cents from the then-14-year-old to call her mother to ask if the two could hang out at Gina’s. When her mother said no, Castro said they parted ways.
7. In 2004, Suspected Kidnapper Ariel Castro’s Son, Ariel Castro, Jr., Wrote an Article About Gina’s Disappearance
In an even more bizarre twist, suspected kidnapper Ariel Castro’s son, Ariel Castro, Jr., took to journalism and wrote an article on Gina DeJesus’ disappearance that appeared in Cleveland’s community newspaper, The Plane Press.
Since April 2, 2004, the day 14-year-old Gina DeJesus was last seen on her way home from Wilbur Wright Middle School, neighborhood residents have been taken by an overwhelming need for caution. Parents are more strictly enforcing curfews, encouraging their children to walk in groups, or driving them to and from school when they had previously walked alone.
“You can tell the difference,” DeJesus’ mother, Nancy Ruiz said. “People are watching out for each other’s kids. It’s a shame that a tragedy had to happen for me to really know my neighbors. Bless their hearts, they’ve been great.”
On Cleveland ’s west side, it is difficult to go any length of time without seeing Gina’s picture on telephone poles, in windows, or on cars along the busy streets. “People are really looking out for my daughter,” Ruiz said.
7. In 2006, Tips Lead Police to Dig Up a Cleveland Driveway
September 22, 2006: Tip leads police to search under a Cleveland driveway for Gina. Nothing is found. Her mother, Nancy Ruiz, maintains as she always has that she believes her daughter is alive.
8. April 2013 Marks Gina’s 9th Year Since Her Disappearance
On April 2, 2013, marking Gina’s ninth anniversary since her disappearance, a prayer service was held in Cleveland.
ABC affiliate News Net 5 reports:
It was nine years ago on Tuesday that Gina DeJesus disappeared on her way home from school.
The Cleveland teenager had just left Wilbur Wright Middle School when she vanished April 2, 2004. She was last seen around West 105 Street and Lorain Avenue.
On Tuesday night, family, friends and community activists gathered at that site for a prayer service for Gina. The gathering was also used to raise awareness about human trafficking.
Gina’s mother, Nancy Ruiz, has always believed her daughter was kidnapped and sold into the trade.
“Today, my sole purpose for today is I want to have it for prayers for other families that have missing children of loved ones,” Ruiz said.
9. Gina is Rescued And Her Family Celebrates Her Return
DeJesus, who was a 14-year-old girl when she was snatched off a Cleveland street, did not say a word or pose for the cameras. A relative protectively put an arm around her and rushed her into the house.
But before the once-lost girl emerged from the mini van, her jubilant dad Felix pumped the air with his fist and hugged relatives and cops.
10. The Healing Process Begins
After the initial celebration, DeJesus has a road of recovery.
Fox 8 Cleveland further details:
Of the information she told the investigators we can surmise:
• She may have been pregnant multiple times
• It is unclear if she birthed any children