CLEVELAND - The three women rescued from a house a decade after they disappeared asked for privacy Sunday, saying through an attorney that while they are grateful for overwhelming support, they also need time to heal.
Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus, and Michelle Knight remain in seclusion, releasing their first statements since they were found May 6. They thanked law enforcement and said they were grateful for the support of family and the community.
"I am so happy to be home, and I want to thank everybody for all your prayers," DeJesus said in a statement read by an attorney. "I just want time now to be with my family."
The women, now in their 20s and 30s, vanished separately between 2002 and 2004.
Investigators say they spent the last nine years or more inside the home of Ariel Castro where they were repeatedly raped and only allowed outside a handful of times. Castro, 52, a former school bus driver, is being held on $8 million bon, charged with kidnapping and rape.
After nearly a decade of being away, the three women need time to reconnect with their families, said attorney Jim Wooley.
Knight, who was the first to disappear and the last of the three released from the hospital, thanked everyone for their support and good wishes in her statement. "I am healthy, happy and safe and will reach out to family, friends and supporters in good time."
Berry added: "Thank you so much for everything you're doing and continue to do. I am so happy to be home with my family."
The attorney said none of the women will do any media interviews until the criminal case against Castro is over. He also asked that they be given privacy.
The Associated Press does not usually identify people who say they are victims of sexual assault, but the women's names were widely circulated by their families, friends, and law enforcement authorities for years during their disappearances and after they were found.
Donations are pouring into funds set up for the women. City Councilman Brian Cummins said $50,000 has been raised with the goal of creating a trust fund for each in hopes of making them financially independent. The Cleveland Foundation's portion of the Cleveland Courage Fund had raised $20,000 as of Thursday.