The disappearance of Michelle Knight in 2002 shocked the Cleveland, Ohio community and the nation at large. Knight was just 21 years old when she was abducted and held captive by a local bus driver and musician named Ariel Castro, who imprisoned her for roughly 11 years.
Knight was finally able to escape Castro's clutches in 2013, having endured over a decade of mental and physical turmoil. Now, her life looks a whole lot different than how it did in the early 2000s, and she is championing others who are turning their pain into strength, as well. Where is Michelle Knight today? Keep reading to find out.
Where is Michelle Knight today? She now goes by Lily Rose Lee.
It's been almost a decade since Knight was freed from her kidnapper, and her life is now entirely different. When she initially returned to society, Knight found difficulty landing a job thanks to the high-profile nature of her case. Wanting a fresh start, she changed her name to Lily Rose Lee. As Lee, she has become an outspoken advocate for trauma relief, helping guide others who have experienced similar situations to hers.
Lee has also penned two successful books about her remarkable life story. The first, Finding Me: A Decade of Darkness, A Life Reclaimed: A Memoir of the Cleveland Kidnappings, is a stark recollection of her time with Castro and the means through which she found the courage to continue living on a daily basis. The second book, Life After Darkness: Finding Healing and Happiness After the Cleveland Kidnappings, hones in on how Lee has become a new person in the wake of being freed.
When it comes to her love life, it took a lot of time and mental reassurance before Lee allowed herself to develop romantic connections. Per People, she is now in a happy relationship with Miguel Rodriguez, whom she married three years after being freed from captivity.
Michelle Knight was the victim of the famous 2002 Cleveland abduction.
Knight has been a fighter for virtually her entire life. Even before being kidnapped, per ABC, she was sexually abused by a male relative as a child, lived on the streets, gave birth to her first child, Joey, at 18, and subsequently lost custody of him. According to ABC, social services took her son from her after her mother's boyfriend got drunk and fractured Joey's knee. The child was put into foster care, which sent Knight on a frantic chase to try to regain custody.
One day, she was late to a case management meeting. While looking for a payphone to call her case manager, Knight bumped into Castro, who she recognized as the father of one of her friends.
“He said, 'I know where it's at. I can take you straight to it. It'll only take me ... five minutes,'" she recalled. "And I’m like 'OK. I’m gonna make it. This is gonna happen.'"
But Knight never did make it, as Castro brought her back to his home and held her captive for more than a decade.
ABC reveals that Knight wasn't Castro's only victim. In April 2003, he also kidnapped 16-year-old Amanda Berry and just a year later, he abducted 14-year-old Gina DeJesus. While in captivity, Knight said that she became pregnant five times and each time Castro used violent methods to end the pregnancy, resulting in her inability to give birth to this day.
On May 6, 2013, the horrific torture that the three girls were subjected to came to an end when Berry and her daughter, whom she gave birth to while in captivity, escaped the house while Castro was out. She alerted authorities who stormed the property and rescued Knight and DeJesus. When she was found, Knight was given immediate medical attention to care for her injuries and malnourishment. Castro was found driving nearby and was promptly arrested.
What happened to Castro after Knight, Berry, and DeJesus were freed?
For the heinous crimes that he committed against Knight, Berry, and DeJesus, Castro was sentenced to an incomprehensibly long prison term. Per Wikipedia, he was convicted of 937 criminal counts of rape, kidnapping, and aggravated murder, for which he was given life in prison, plus 1,000 years imprisonment without the possibility of parole.
Roughly a month into his prison sentence, Castro committed suicide.