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Missing Ohio woman's Kissimmee grandfather said he never lost hope

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KISSIMMEE, Fla. - A crowd cheered as Gina DeJesus arrived at her family's Cleveland home Wednesday.

She was one of three Ohio women rescued Monday after being held captive for years.

A Cleveland man accused of holding the three women captive for years will appear in court Thursday.

Prosecutors charged 52-year-old Ariel Castro Wednesday.

His two brothers won't be charged. Investigators said no evidence linked them to the crimes.

Two of the three women rescued returned home with their families Wednesday.

DeJesus, wearing a bright yellow hoodie, gave a thumbs-up as she was escorted with her mother and father into a house she hadn't seen since 2004.

DeJesus, Amanda Berry and Michelle Knight were rescued Monday after Berry broke out and called for help.
"I want to thank everybody that believed, even when I said she was alive, and believed. I knew my daughter was out there alive," DeJesus' mother, Nancy Ruiz, said.

Berry also returned home Wednesday with the 6-year-old daughter she gave birth to in captivity.

Knight remains in good condition at a Cleveland hospital, according to her family.
The heartfelt homecomings have gripped the nation.

Chains and locks have been recovered in the home.

The women left the house only twice, to go to the garage in disguise. Police said the women were sexually assaulted repeatedly.

Channel 9's Nancy Alvarez spent the day tracking down DeJesus' grandparents in Kissimmee.

DeJesus' grandfather, Benny Ruiz, said he knew the suspects well.

Ruiz said he is in constant contact with family members, who said DeJesus is very thin but in good health.

Emotionally, she is struggling, Ruiz said.

He said the whole family is really having a hard time because the man police say is responsible was their friend.

"God made a promise, and will not forget Gina," Ruiz said.

Ruiz kept a poster of his missing granddaughter inside his house in Kissimmee for years.

He said it's time to take it down.

"This is like a dream," Ruiz said.

Ruiz said he still can't believe his granddaughter is home following what he describes as nine years of pure anguish for his family.

What's even more shocking for Ruiz is who police say is responsible -- one of three brothers he has known since childhood.

He said he was especially close to Ariel Castro, the man who owned the home in which the women were found, a musician who was close to DeJesus' family and even helped them with fundraisers while she was missing.


"To me, he was a great kid. Great guy. He played music in my club. And he was friendly. Like family," Ruiz said.

Ruiz said he has returned to Cleveland several times since he moved to Kissimmee 13 years ago.

During every visit, Ruiz said he spent time with the Castro brothers and their family, never imagining for a moment that Ariel might be keeping his granddaughter captive.

Ruiz said he doesn't know what he would say to them now because he's still in shock. But he said he knows exactly what he'll tell his granddaughter: Her family never lost hope.

"My daughter, Gina's mother, she always say that God will bring her alive," Ruiz said.

Ruiz said he's waiting for things to die down a bit before he heads to Cleveland to see DeJesus, but he also said he can't wait for her to eventually visit him here.

He said he wants to take her to Disney World.

Stay with Eyewitness News for continuing coverage of this major story.

You can find updates on the case and watch video of the family reunions here.