NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The uncle of Amanda Berry says he did not believe it at first when relatives in Cleveland, Ohio, told him his niece had been found alive.
“They’d called before and said, ‘Yeah, they think they’ve found her,’” Curtis Berry said in a phone interview from his brother’s home in Elizabethton. By the time the call came on Monday, 10 years after Berry’s disappearance the night before her 17th birthday, Berry said he no longer believed that his niece would be found alive.
“I’d done lost hope,” he said.
Amanda Berry is one of three women who were rescued from a Cleveland home on Monday after they went missing separately about a decade ago, when they were in their teens or early 20s.
Berry’s grandmother Fern Gentry said in a phone interview that she never gave up hope.
When she talked with her granddaughter on the phone on Monday “she said she thought of me the whole time, and told her I did her too,” Gentry said.
Berry’s father, Johnny Berry, was ill and declined to speak to reporters on Wednesday.
Gentry said she is relieved that Berry is safe but also mad.
“I’m mad because of what she’s been through. I’m mad that it took so long for them to — well, they didn’t really find her, she found her own way out.”
Gentry said it didn’t surprise her that her granddaughter was able to save herself, the other women and her 6-year-old daughter.
“She’s like her grandma. You don’t give up. You keep going,” she said.
Gentry, Johnny Berry, Curtis Berry and other family members are from the Elizabethton area but lived in Cleveland for many years and kept in close touch with Amanda Berry even after they moved back to Tennessee.
Gentry said her old house in Cleveland is near to the house where her granddaughter was held captive. Referring to reports from neighbors who said they had previously called the police with suspicions about the house, Gentry said, “What I’ve heard about the house, the things they saw, if I’d been there and knew that, I would have gone to the house myself.”
Gentry said that as a teenager, before her abduction, Berry was “just a great person, and I’m sure she will be now.”
She said she is excited to see Berry again and to meet her great-granddaughter, but right now they are worn out.
“They both need quiet,” she said.