CLEVELAND - On Wednesday night, for the first time in almost a decade, those passing the corner of West 105th and Lorain will not find a crowd of people.
No one gathered and carrying signs. No one handing out flyers. No one there to hope beyond hope that Gina DeJesus would be found alive. No need. This is the 10th anniversary of her disappearance April 2, 2004.
Their prayers were answered a little more than a month after last year’s anniversary when Gina, Amanda Berry and Michelle Knight were all found alive May 6 after being held captive in the Seymour Avenue home of Ariel Castro.
Victims' advocate Judy Martin was always-present at the April rallies alongside Gina’s parents Nancy Ruiz and Felix DeJesus. Nearly a year after the three were found, Martin still can’t believe her April 2 is now free.
"I talked to Nancy and they're not doing anything special,” said Martin. “I thought about well we should have a ‘thank you God’ rally but you know they're just so thankful that their daughter's home so they need their peace and quiet."
Martin said they were always careful to call the gathering held each year a rally and not a vigil.
"We never believed that they were dead, so they were rallies to us, rallies to find them, rallies to keep the neighborhood thinking about them, looking for them.”
In court proceedings that followed, it was learned that Ariel Castro would allow Gina and Amanda on the anniversary of their disappearance to watch the television coverage of the rallies.
In showing them the coverage, he would tell them they would never be found but Martin and others believe it had the opposite effect, giving them hope that their families would never stop searching.
Though there may not be any gathering on Wednesday for Gina or later this month for Amanda, Martin believes that there still is a lesson to be learned by their freedom, pay attention to the world around you.
"When they see a house that's boarded-up but somebody is going in it all the time with groceries, there's questions that should have been raised," she said.