Ariel Castro case: Amanda Berry's boyfriend says he was a suspect in her disappearance
Paul Kiska, newsnet5.com
1:02 PM, May 16, 2013
CLEVELAND - Amanda Berry's boyfriend when she disappeared said he was considered a suspect in the case, and investigators questioned him for years.
On a sunny afternoon this week, the now 26-year-old man was working on his car in the garage of his home on Cleveland's west side. But he has a story to tell about how he became the focus of the investigation into Amanda Berry's disappearance for years.
He was a 16-year-old boy who had just gotten his temporary driver's license when he was questioned numerous times by the FBI and Cleveland police in the 2003 disappearance.
Because he was never charged, we are not naming him for this story.
The man working on the car took a break to talk to me about his teenage years spent under the microscope. He shies away from going on camera, but told me I can tell his story about what made his teenage years stressful.
First, he said he is extremely relieved that all of the women are free and safe from captivity.
He said because he was Amanda's boyfriend for a month and a half before she vanished, he was immediately questioned by authorities, and he drove a white car at the time.
Witnesses told police they believe they saw Amanda get into a white car the night she disappeared in April 2003.
He said two of his friend drove white cars at the time and they were also questioned.
A source confirmed that the then 16-year-old boy was questioned because he was supposed to pick Amanda up from work at the Burger King the night she disappeared.
The now 26-year-old man told me he understood being questioned at first, that the boyfriend is going to get questioned, but he wasn't prepared for how much scrutiny.
He said he took lie detector tests and was told he failed the tests.
Investigators towed his white car and searched it.
Then a year later when Gina DeJesus went missing in 2004, he said he walked out of his house on Cleveland's west side and was surrounded by police and that police had the entire neighborhood blocked off.
Neighbors started clapping because they believed police caught the guy, he remembered. He said the FBI questioned him until he turned 18 years old.
The FBI confirmed that Amanda's boyfriend was questioned after her disappearance, but he was cleared.
He said police then continued to question him on and off during traffic stops.
He said for years he went to parties with Ariel Castro's nephews. He drank beers with Castro at those parties, but said he never knew Ariel Castro by name back then, and it wasn't until Castro's recent arrest that he realized who Castro was.
He shook his head for a minute, taken aback, realizing he was unknowingly hanging out with the alleged kidnapper Ariel Castro; Castro who in retrospect caused the man's teenage years to be spent being questioned by authorities.
He met Amanda while going into the Burger King where she worked, but never went back to the nearby fast food restaurant after being questioned, even though he wanted to, but it was too uncomfortable.
Shortly after Amanda disappeared, a phone call was placed from Amanda's cellphone to her family. The man said Amanda was OK.
Her former boyfriend said investigators traced the cellphone tower ping back to the general vicinity of his west side neighborhood and he was questioned again.
He said his mom told him he was, to a much lesser degree, also a victim of Castro who caused his teenage years to be filled with scrutiny.
He has not spoken with Amanda since her daring escape.
As I walked away down the long driveway, the now 26-year-old man who spoke in a quiet calm voice, got out his tools and started working on his car again.
It's something a 16-year-old boy with a brand new driver's license would have loved to spend time doing.