More than 10 years after last hearing Amanda Berry's voice, her family in Elizabethton got the miracle they've been waiting for years. Her father was beyond thrilled when the phone rang Monday night.
“She said, 'Hi daddy, I'm alive,'” Johnny Berry said of the phone call he received at his home in Elizabethton around 11. “She said, 'I love you, I love you, I love you,' and then we both started crying. You wouldn't believe it. There are no words for it. I told her I never lost hope.”
Berry and two other women, who had remained missing for years, were all found alive in a home in Cleveland, OH Monda night after Berry kicked a door, screamed for help and called 911.
Although Berry was born and raised in Cleveland, her father, grandparents and cousins live in Elizabethton. At one time, most of the family lived in Ohio too, but they moved back to Northeast Tennessee more than a decade ago.
They say over the years, Berry often visited Elizabethton during the summers. Her family also visited her in Ohio. In fact, they say they were up there just three weeks before she disappeared. Berry went missing in 2003 on the night before her 17th birthday.
“It's awesome,” cousin Crystal Milton said of the news as she exhaled. “Me and her are so close because we're only two years apart. We always spent our summers together. I went there. She came down here. I love it. I never thought we'd see this day, but I'm glad we did.”
That was before Milton talked with her cousin on the phone. A few minutes later, Berry's sister called from Ohio and handed the phone over to Amanda.
“Hello,” the soft voice on the other end of the line said. “Amanda?” grandmother Fern Gentry asked. “Yeah grandma,” Amanda answered. “How are you?” Gentry asked. “I'm fine, how are you?”
During the phone call, Gentry learned her granddaughter now has a daughter of her own; a six year-old who was born on Christmas. She knows the girl's alleged kidnappers stripped away much of her innocence. Still, she's thankful all of the girls are alive.
“I have no clue what they've been through,” Gentry said. “I'm sure it was awful. That was so good to hear her voice. She sounds great. She sounds good. Thank God.”
Her grandfather is thankful too. After the years passed, his hope faded.
“It's just so long, I didn't think there was no hope,” Troy Berry said. “It's a relief, but I never thought it'd happen, but miracles do happen.”
Now, family members are making arrangements to get up to Cleveland to see Amanda again. That day can't come soon enough.
“I'm ready to go right now to see her,” Milton said. “It's awesome. I love it.”
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