CLEVELAND - The mayor of Cleveland pushed his body into the deep leather of a high-back chair and looked across the room in a pensive manner. Frank Jackson's thoughts were of the four victims who escaped from a west side city house where they had been held captive for years.
After years of searching, Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight had been found. They, with a child police said was born to Berry while the women were held captive, were able to run to freedom early Monday evening, taking advantage of their kidnapper's absence.
Jackson said his heart went out to the victims who story has been reported by news organizations throughout the country and the rest of the world.
"We should give the family and the three young ladies the kind of room they need in order to adjust to a new life," said Jackson in a soft but straight-forward voice.
He sat at the long conference room table in the mayor's complex of offices in Cleveland City Hall. A few miles away, FBI agents poured through the Seymour Avenue house, bagging evidence and placing it into a truck that was backed up to the front porch of the house owned by Ariel Castro, 52. He and his two brothers, Pedro Castro, 54, and Onil Castro, 50, are suspected by police and have been jail, awaiting charges.
Although Jackson stood with his Public Safety Department director and high-ranking brass of Cleveland police in a news conference detailing their actions in arresting the Castro brothers, in the quiet of the mayor's conference room, he said his thoughts were of the victims.
"To come out of a situation that they've been in for the last 10, 12 years with questions of 'how do you behave, how do you relate, how do you relate to family members, how do you relate to just people in general" would be too much for the three women and child at this point.
"These are very deep kinds of things that need some time to heal and to reorient and restabilize individuals," said Jackson. He had praise for the west side community that has been the scene of all the police activity. He called the area "a good community" but lamented the fact that there can be bad people in many areas.
In an interview, Mayor Jackson declined to comment on the arrests of the three suspects or anything about evidence collected in the house. His emphasis was on the victims. He said he hoped the community that has shown a great deal of love for them "does not smother them" emotionally while the women and child were seeking a healing.
The victims have been taken by FBI agents to an undisclosed location where they are meeting with family members and are talking with law enforcement officials about their lives during the last decade.
"Let's not forget the victims," said Jackson.