Cleveland Abduction on Netflix is a gut-wrenching movie that is only made more disturbing by the fact it’s based on a true story.


The gritty kidnapping movie, which was released in 2015 on Lifetime before landing on Netflix US, revolves around three women – Michelle Knight, Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus – who were kidnapped from the streets of Cleveland and Ohio, and held captive by Ariel Castro in his basement.

Wondering what happened to the three women in real life? Read on for everything you need to know about the true story behind Cleveland Abduction.

Cleveland Abduction true story: How long were the girls held captive?

The film is based on the real kidnappings committed by Ariel Castro in the Tremont neighbourhood of Cleveland between 2002 and 2004.

The real names of Castro's victims – Michelle Knight, Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus – are all used, with the film having been adapted from Knight's own memoir, Finding Me: A Decade of Darkness, a Life Reclaimed.

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Castro's victims were held captive for more than a decade before they escaped.

As is told in the memoir, Knight – then aged 21 – was taken captive by Castro in 2002, with 16-year-old Berry and 14-year-old DeJesus also kidnapped in the following two years.

Each of them was imprisoned in Castro's basement until May 2013, when Berry was able to escape along with her 6-year-old daughter (a paternity test later confirmed that Castro was the father) after she managed to make contact with one of Castro's neighbours.

The police then rescued the other two victims and apprehended Castro, who was later sentenced to life imprisonment plus 1,000 years in prison without the possibility of parole.

During the case, details of the horrendous abuse the trio had faced came to light – with records showing that all three women had been regularly raped by Castro and kept in locked rooms where plastic toilets would be "emptied infrequently".

Cleveland Kidnapper Ariel Castro Sentenced In Cleveland
Michelle Knight addresses the court while Ariel Castro listens in the background in 2013 in Cleveland, Ohio. Getty

According to the sentencing memorandum filed by the prosecutor on the case, Castro used "a program of prolonged physical, sexual, and psychological violence" to ensure that the women remained "in a state of powerlessness".

The memorandum adds that all three women "spoke of forced sexual conducted, of being locked in a dark room, of anticipating the next session of abuse, of the dreams of someday escaping and being reunited with family, of being chained to a wall, of being held like a prisoner of war, of missing the lives they once enjoyed, of emotional abuse, of his threats to kill, of being treated like an animal, or continuous abuse, and of desiring freedom."

Castro pleaded guilty to 937 criminal counts of rape, kidnapping and aggravated murder (or intentional induction of miscarriages) on 26th July 2013, as part of a plea deal that would see him avoid a death sentence.

He was found dead in his cell just one month into his sentence, ruled to have died by suicide.


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