Between 2002 and 2004, Ariel Castro kidnapped three girls in the Tremont neighborhood of Cleveland, Ohio. He held them captive until 2013, when Amanda Berry escaped with her six-year-old daughter, Jocelyn Berry, and contacted the police.
Ahead of the 20/20 episode where the three victims — Berry, Michelle Knight, and Gina DeJesus — tell their emotional stories of hope, resilience, and bravery to ABC News anchor Robin Roberts, here’s what you need to know about Berry’s daughter, Jocelyn, including how Berry tried to make her life as normal as possible while being held captive and how Jocelyn is doing now.
1. Jocelyn’s Mother Amanda Was Just 16 When She Was Kidnapped
On April 21, 2003, just one day away from turning 17, Amanda Berry disappeared after working her shift at a local fast-food restaurant. She was initially considered a runaway, but a week after her disappearance, Berry’s mother received a call from Berry’s cell phone where an unidentified man said, “I have Amanda. She’s fine and will be coming home in a couple of days,” the FBI told the Cleveland Plain-Dealer.
While being held captive, the three women were subjected to continuous abuse — raped, starved, fed one meal a day. At the time the women were found, Reuters reported that Knight told police she suffered at least five miscarriages over the 10+ years of captivity, saying she was starved for weeks and beaten in the stomach by Castro in order to induce them.
The women were found when Berry managed to escape with the help of a neighbor who heard her screaming. Knight was 20 years old when she was kidnapped in 2002 and DeJesus was 14 when she was kidnapped in 2004.
2. Amanda’s daughter Jocelyn Was Born in 2006
On Christmas Day 2006, Amanda gave birth to Jocelyn in an inflatable kiddie swimming pool. Knight told authorities she assisted in the birth; Castro had said he would kill her if the baby didn’t survive. At one point, the baby wasn’t breathing, but Knight said she was able to resuscitate her, according to the Cleveland Plain-Dealer.
During the birth, Berry told 20/20/i> that Knight was just trying to calm her down. Knight said she cried “so much” because she wasn’t a medical expert and was scared of what would happen. But Berry said when she looked at her daughter for the first time, it was just “amazing.”
“It was amazing ’cause she was so quiet and she was just the most beautiful thing … this is his kid. How do I feel about that? She resembled him a lot and I would look at her and I just felt like, ‘She’s mine. She’s mine,'” Berry said.
After Jocelyn was born, Castro, whom she called “daddy,” occasionally took the little girl to visit his mother, Lillian Rodriguez, whom she called “grandmother.” He also showed Jocelyn’s picture to his adult daughters and told them she was his daughter with his ex-girlfriend, according to USA Today. A DNA test eventually confirmed that Castro was Jocelyn’s father.
3. Jocelyn’s Presence Is What Eventually Led to Amanda Being Unchained
While they were held captive, the women were chained up by Castro. But as Jocelyn got older, she started to wonder about the chains and that’s why Amanda was eventually taken out of her chains, which would one day aid her escape.
“[Castro] started to call them bracelets,” Berry told 20/20. “[Jocelyn] was about 2, almost 3 years old and he finally took the chains off of me and that was because of Jocelyn.”
When Jocelyn became school-aged, Berry created a classroom for her in one of the rooms where Castro kept them captive, having Castro buy workbooks for Jocelyn so she could start “school.” Berry wanted Jocelyn to have as normal of a life as possible. She also told 20/20 that Castro’s relationship with Jocelyn was “normal,” saying, “She loved him and he loved her.” But she did worry about whether Castro would eventually harm Jocelyn.
4. Amanda’s Mother Died Before Amanda and Jocelyn Escaped
Amanda’s mother Louwana Miller kept hope alive for years that her daughter would be found, but in 2004, psychic Sylvia Browne told Miller that her daughter was dead on an episode of The Montel Williams Show. Berry remembers watching that on TV in captivity and being devastated to hear the so-called psychic tell her mother that and watch her mother break down in tears.
“She just gave up hope. And the huge tragedy is that she would die before Amanda would be freed. I think everyone knew that really she died of heartbreak,” Mary Jordan, co-author of the book “Hope,” told 20/20.
Miller died in March 2006. The Cleveland Plain-Dealer wrote at the time, “The ordeal had taken a toll as her health steadily deteriorated in recent months, family and friends said. She was 44.”
“I think that was the hardest part of being in there — she was always fighting and she was never gonna give up on me and for her to get sick and I couldn’t be there with her, I couldn’t help her when she was sick,” Berry told 20/20.
5. Jocelyn Is Now 13 Years Old
“It’s very difficult for her because she loves her daughter … but knowing who her father is, what he was, and to know that as Jocelyn is getting older, she’s finding out more and more and how she’s delicately handling that. But she loves her daughter more than life itself,” Roberts said in the ABC News special.
In a 2018 interview with Fox 8 News Cleveland, Berry could not say enough good things about the young woman her daughter has become.
“She’s so kindhearted. She loves animals. She’s outgoing. She’s a little sassy. I think she gets that from me,” said Berry, adding, “I’m just so proud of how much she’s grown as a person. She’s very caring and a lot of kids her age are not like that.”
“There are a million possibilities and if she wants to do all one million of them, she can,” said Berry in a 2016 interview with ABC News 5 Cleveland, who reported that Jocelyn Berry entered first grade reading a level ahead of her classmates.
20/20 airs Fridays on ABC.