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Ariel Castro's Cleveland house demolished

Spectators watch as Ariel Castro's house is torn down in Cleveland Wednesday, Aug. 7, 2013.
August 7, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
The house where Ariel Castro held three women captive for over a decade was demolished on Wednesday.

Gina DeJesus' aunt took the first swing at the home with a crane. The home on Seymour Avenue was torn down within an hour and 20 minutes, as spectators celebrated.

DeJesus, Michelle Knight and Amanda Berry were held captive and raped in the house for over a decade. Knight was present for the demolition. She handed out yellow balloons to the crowd, who released them before the crane went to work. Berry and DeJesus were not present.

The property was torn down as part of a plea deal reached with Castro that helped him avoid the death penalty. Castro was sentenced last week to life in prison without parole, plus 1,000 years. Cuyahoga County prosecutor Tim McGinty said the two houses to the left of Castro's will also be torn down and will be developed into a park or whatever the residents decide.

Knight gave a message of strength and hope to people, especially mothers, who are searching for missing children. She also told the crowd she plans to become a motivational speaker to "let everybody know that they're heard, that they are loved and there is hope for everyone."

"I feel very liberated that people think of me as a hero and a role model and I would love to continue being that," Knight said.

DeJesus' aunt said she agreed to help tear down the house "because I had so much anger inside me. I wanted to do it. It felt great. It felt like a house of horrors coming down."

Among the items spotted in the rubble was a sticker with the words "Daddy's Girl" on it next to the name Jocelyn, which is the 6-year-old girl Castro fathered with Amanda Berry.

The three women disappeared separately between 2002 and 2004 after accepting rides from Castro. They escaped his home May 6, when Berry, now 27, broke part of a door and yelled to neighbors for help. Castro was arrested that evening.

ABC News and the Associated Press contributed to this report.


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