(CLEVELAND) — Michelle Knight was on-hand Wednesday to see the Cleveland “house of horrors” where she was held captive for 11 years by Ariel Castro demolished.
A smiling Knight, 32, greeted crowds and handed out yellow balloons to people that had gathered on Seymour Avenue to watch the house come down. The crowd released the balloons before the crane started working.
Knight, Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus were held captive and raped in the house for more than a decade.
Berry, 27, and DeJesus, 23, were not present for the demolition.
DeJesus’ aunt took the first swing at the house with a crane. She said organizers asked the families if someone wanted to begin the demolition and she agreed to do it, “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.”
Prosecutor Tim McGinty held a news conference to thank the people who were involved in the case. McGinty said that the $22,000 found in Castro’s home was offered to the three women who said they want it to go back to the neighborhood, according to ABC News’ Cleveland affiliate WEWS-TV.
The house was torn down as part of a plea deal that spared Castro from a possible death sentence.
Castro had such an emotional attachment to the home that prosecutors said he broke down in tears when he had to sign over the property deed, saying it was wrong to tear it down because he had so many happy memories there.
Castro was sentenced to life in prison without parole plus 1,000 years by an Ohio judge on Aug. 1.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Steve Almasy, Ray Sanchez and Darran Simon, CNN
Michael Nedelman, CNN
Heather Kelly, CNN