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Editorial: Suspicions about Cleveland home went unheard

May. 11, 2013 @ 12:26 AM

The escape this week of three young Cleveland women missing for a decade is a story with many remarkable twists and turns.

Amanda Berry, 27, Michelle Knight, 32, and Gina DeJesus, 22, had been held captive since their teens or early 20s. The three brothers being held as suspects in the case were well known in the close-knit Puerto Rican neighborhood, even attending candlelight vigils and fundraisers for the victims.

But one of the most incredible parts of the story is that the women went undiscovered for so long. They were apparently being held in a frame house, located on a crowded block just a few feet away from homes on either side. The home faces a row of six homes just across the street.

In the wake of the escape, a few neighbors said they had reported suspicious activities over the years such as a naked woman crawling in the backyard, the face of a child at a window or the sound of someone pounding on doors. Police have stressed that they never received such calls, and at this point, it is hard to know where the truth lies.

However, it is a chilling reminder that communication between the eyes and ears of a neighborhood and the police is critical to solving and preventing crime. One of the fruits of the recent Weed and Seed program in Huntington was fostering more trust between residents and local police. That led to more information, which led to more arrests and safer neighborhoods.

When we see suspicious activities in our neighborhood, we need to report it to police. In the same way, police need to be sure they are listening and carefully considering any report.

Apparently those lines of communication broke down in Cleveland, and three women spent years held hostage in a home in their own neighborhood.

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