Ashley Summers included in appeal for help
A video posted online in February 2012 appeals for help to find four 'girls' missing in the US city of Cleveland, three of whom were rescued Tuesday.PT0M0S 620 349
After apparently being held captive for years, three missing women were found alive on Monday in a house on Cleveland's west side. Michelle Knight, Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus vanished as teenagers in 2002, 2003 and 2004, respectively.
Summers' grandmother claimed she saw Summers in a car in November 2007, with short, dyed-blonde hair
While US authorities believed that Knight had run away from home, Berry and DeJesus had been the subject of much press attention over the past decade. (The local newspaper Plain Dealer has dubbed them "two of Cleveland's most famous missing persons".) A 52-year-old school bus driver named Ariel Castro and his two brothers have been arrested in connection with the case.
Missing: Ashley Summers. Photo: FBI
This is still a breaking story, and much remains unknown - we'll be getting a lot more information about Berry, Knight, DeJesus and the Castros over the next few days. But, unfortunately, there's one name we're not hearing: Ashley Summers.
Ashley Summers was 14-years-old when she disappeared in 2007 from the same Cleveland neighbourhood where Berry, DeJesus and Knight went missing. She was presumed to have run away from home after a family dispute, but when she was never seen or heard from again, authorities began to suspect she was being held against her will.
Summers' grandmother claimed she saw Summers in a car in November 2007, with short, dyed-blonde hair. In a 2009 Oprah segment about the disappearances of Summers, Berry and DeJesus, FBI Special Agent Phil Torsney seemed to discount this, saying "there's been no legitimate sighting of Ashley since she left her house".
Gina DeJesus: found alive Photo: Reuters
Authorities have long speculated that the disappearances of Berry, DeJesus and Summers were linked, and that "one or more of the girls may have been forced into prostitution".
Looking at a map of the neighbourhood from which they all disappeared, you can see why the crimes could have been related.
Before Monday's rescue, Berry was last seen at a Burger King at W. 110th Street and Lorain Avenue in Cleveland, while DeJesus was last seen five blocks away, at W. 105th Street. and Lorain Avenue. Ashley Summers was reported missing from her family's house at W. 96th Street. and Madison Avenue, about 2.5km from where Berry and DeJesus disappeared.
Subject of much press attention: Amanda Berry Photo: Reuters
The neighbourhood is about 5.5km away from Ariel Castro's house at 2207 Seymour Avenue, where Berry, DeJesus and Knight were found on Monday - a quick jaunt down I-90. (In a 2009 blog post, Summers' step-grandmother said that Summers actually went missing from her great uncle's house on Holmden Avenue in Cleveland's west side. If that were the case, Holmden Avenue is less than 1.5km away from 2207 Seymour Avenue)
Did Ariel Castro and his brothers have anything to do with Summers' disappearance? At this point there's no indication that they did, and it would be irresponsible to jump to any conclusions. But you'd have to imagine that Summers' family is asking that question now, and hoping they get some good news.
Justin Peters writes Slate’s crime blog. @slatecrime.