November 23, 2014


Michelle Knight says fame comes with complications

Michelle Knight smiles during an interview in Cleveland on June 26. Knight, 33, was one of three women who captivated the world in 2013 when they emerged from Ariel Castro’s squalid Cleveland home after years of captivity. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

Michelle Knight smiles during an interview in Cleveland on June 26. Knight, 33, was one of three women who captivated the world in 2013 when they emerged from Ariel Castro’s squalid Cleveland home after years of captivity. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

CLEVELAND (AP) — Michelle Knight has discovered that the fame that followed her escape from Ariel Castro’s house of horrors cuts both ways.

There has been some obvious good. The girl who grew up without a toothbrush and spent nearly 11 years in captivity can provide for herself. She has her own apartment. Her book, “Finding Me,” spent five weeks on the New York Times Bestsellers List. She and the other two women kidnapped by Castro split $1.4 million in donations collected after their escape. Phil McGraw of “Dr. Phil” television fame presented Knight with an oversized check for more than $400,000 from his foundation.

In a recent interview with The Associated Press, Knight said she is ready to assume a normal life and, with it, a new name and identity — Lily Rose Lee.

“I’m not a celebrity,” said Knight, 33. “I don’t want to be. I want to be me.”

Fame has brought some frustrations. Knight becomes frightened when crowds sometimes gather around her as she walks alone. She finds it annoying when people snap cellphone photos without asking.

And people from her distant past have reappeared, feigning friendship but ultimately seeking money, she said.

“You have to be careful every day because of the book and the money and the ‘it’ factor of who you are,” she said. “They’re not coming at me to be my friend. They want what I have.”

Knight writes in her book that she grew up under less than ideal circumstances. Food and clothing were hard to come by. Strangers drifted in and out of the house at all hours. She said her mother kept her home from school for days at a time to care for her twin brothers and assorted cousins who lived there.

She ran away from home at 15 and lived beneath a highway underpass and then with a drug dealer for a few months. She said in the interview that it was the most nurturing period of her early life.

Knight was 21 when Castro lured her to his home in August 2002. Amanda Berry was abducted in April 2003 just a day shy of her 17th birthday, and Gina DeJesus was 14 when he kidnapped her a year later.

The women escaped from Castro’s home on May 6, 2013. Castro took a plea deal to avoid a potential death sentence and received life in prison plus 1,000 years. Knight said he violently aborted five of her pregnancies by kicking, punching and stomping on her abdomen after impregnating her. He ended up hanging himself in his prison cell a month after sentencing.

While Berry and DeJesus were reunited with loving families who had prayed that they would someday return, Knight refused to meet her mother who had flown to Cleveland from Florida. Knight spent the first four months of her freedom in an assisted living facility because she had nowhere else to go.

Knight said her 3,911 days in captivity have helped instill in her a deep appreciation for what’s good in the world.

“It’s just the little stupid things, like picking up a phone or writing in a book or looking out a window or just seeing a bird fly by,” she said.

These days, she waits her turn at a local bar for karaoke night. She’s trying to write and record songs. While she has been befuddled by some of the new technology that didn’t exist in 2002 — like flat-screen televisions — she has no problems pecking away at her oversized smartphone.

She also has a growing collection of tattoos, including an image of a pretty young girl on her left bicep. She said the tattoo represents the babies Castro killed.

“They are my little angels,” she said.

Knight has an infectious giggle and is quick to smile. She has a few phobias, like always keeping her apartment drapes open after living in boarded-up rooms inside the Castro house. Having lived in filth for so long, she said she’s become a compulsive cleaner.

The course Knight is setting means leaving her family behind. She said she forgives them but doesn’t want anything to do with them.

She also has decided to not pursue visitation rights with her son, Joey, who is now 14 and lives with adoptive parents. Knight said he doesn’t know she’s his birthmother and she doesn’t want to disrupt his life. She knows he’s happy, and that’s good enough for her.

As for the future, she has a number of aspirations such as becoming a chef and owning a restaurant and recording music. What seems to excite her most, at the moment, is the prospect of soon visiting Disney World.

Knight said she believes God has a plan for her life.

Her Facebook page, which has nearly 24,000 likes, has become a support group for trauma victims. Discussing what she and others have endured has been therapeutic for her, she said. What pleases her most is having a positive effect on the lives of others.

“If I can help more than a million people or just one,” she said, “I did my job.”

  • golfingirl


    “Michelle Knight says fame comes with complications”

    You wrote a book, appeared on Dr. Phil.

    Your “fame” was in part self-inflicted. Didn’t Dr. Phil warn you about these “complications?”

    Could have just quietly rode off into the sunset.

    • Bob

      Not to mention all money they are all getting from everyone. Yeah most be do hard.

      • jz

        Not to be picky Bob, but, “most be do hard”?

        • Bob

          Edited. Thanks.

    • Sean MacNair

      And you could have just stopped typing and deleted what you had written, instead you had to be a nasty (w)itch.

    • Chan

      Your real gender has been revealed because only a man would be insensitive as to what she and other women held captive endured. Shame on you!

      • golfingirl

        No insensitivity……I would never wish this to happen to anyone. This is not a gender bias.

        The article is about her “fame,” which is continually being promoted by people with motivations which may not be in her best interest.

        It has nothing to do with her captivity, which was horrendous, but has everything to do with the attention she has received since her release. That is what the article is about.

        Do you not feel she has contributed to her “fame,” which has led to some of these “complications?”

        Hard to be “famous,” and not draw attention to yourself.

      • Joe Smith

        How sexist of you, shame on you!

        • Chan

          Perhaps but I stand by my comments.

          • Joe Smith

            I was mostly just teasing, at least you admit it, enjoy your week

      • HankKwah

        No, there’s another woman that posts here that is really insensitive. Understand what GG is saying. Gina Dejesus and Amanda Berry don’t seem to be in front of the camera that much. I feel for the three of them, what the POS did to them all that time was horrendous and there’s a special place in hell for him. But that experience will scar them for the rest of their lives. How they deal with it is going to be personal for all of them, as well as different, and will either help or hurt them as they go on. There’s no step program to help them cope with this.

        Only they will know as they go on if they made the right choices or not.

        • Chan

          The biggest different on how Michelle will deal with the tragedy versus the other two is that they have and always had a support system. Michelle Knight was never listed a missing person in the ten years she was held by that animal. Her being in the news and sharing her story is her way of coping.

          • HankKwah

            Good point. Forgot about that.

      • golfingirl

        Wait, let me look down my shirt…..yep, I look like a female.

        Or maybe I have a terminal case of gynecomastia.

        • Chan

          It’s not uncommon for a man to have boob tissue.

    • jz

      Agree to a point but, “self inflicted” was a poor choice of words”.

  • Sis Delish

    Perhaps she should call Don King and see if he wants to manage her and her money?

  • luvmytoaster

    I have to say that I am surprised at the comments so far. This poor girl was kidnapped and held hostage for 11 years! I can’t even imagine what she has been through. And now you are admonishing her for telling her story? No amount of money that she collects will return to her the years that she has lost……

    She’s not some movie actor who made millions and then gets irritated when his or her fans want to snap a pic, this girl has been through he11 I’m sure!

    • Bob

      Oh I get that. I feel very sorry for her. But don’t sit there and complain about how people are offering you pay for you for the rest of your life.

      And I didn’t hear any of them refuse the money or the things they are getting for free.

      If she doesn’t want to be famous. Then she should stop talking about it and move on with her life.

      • luvmytoaster

        I don’t recall her “complaining” about people offering her pay, and who said it was for the rest of her life?
        I really don’t think anyone would trade any amount of money for the emotional and physical scars that she has.

        • Bob

          Again I agree with you. But….

          Michelle Knight says fame comes with complications” she seems to be complaining now.

          She is the only one I keep hearing about, the other two keep in the shadows. This girl seems to be seeking the fame.

          • luvmytoaster

            I’m sure “fame” does come with complications for people who seek it but let’s not forget that she DID NOT ask for this “fame”.

          • Bob

            Oh please. She goes on Dr. Phil and writes a book. Again she is the only one out of the three I keep hearing about.

            Again I do feel sorry for what she went through. But is you don’t want to be famous. Stay in the shadows and don’t come out every time the media wants a comment.

          • luvmytoaster

            She did state that her escape “cuts both ways”….not everything was viewed as a negative.

          • Razorback Twou

            Bob, your an idiot. You think she should crawl off into the shadows and never be heard from? These women do what they need to cope. For some it may be to not talk about the horror and then some have to talk about it, to get it out in to open and not keep it inside so as not to destroy them. Use your mind however limited it may be.

          • Bob

            You again?? Yawn!!!!

            Just because my opinion differs from your doesn’t make me an IDIOT. Your name calling just make you look petty and immature.

            But you go ahead and follow a woman who pretty much left her son.

            Yeah, yeah, he has a good life. But it were me I would do anything to be reunited with my children. Not leave them. But you go ahead and side with woman who left her child. But hey since she went through what she went through. I guess that gives her an excuse. Right??

          • Candie Rue

            There was a time when NO ONE heard about her while all 3 were held captive by this monster. Also, the other 2 have not stayed in the shadows- they both were at Rover Fest on stage for everyone to see and there is nothing wrong with that either. They lost so much and have been through things we can’t even begin to understand. Maybe she doesn’t like her picture being taken without asking because he could have forced her to take pics of doing gross things he desired. We should try to empathize and not sit here and fault them for how they choose to move forward. If she wants to tell her story then let her. She is just saying with all that she has been through there is a price and she is speaking from her heart- something she would not be able to do if they were never found. Let her speak and let her have her opinions like the rest of us. It is only fair.

          • Bob

            Yeah she was on stage at Roverfest. But she didn’t want to go on stage, her family and friends kind of sorta made her.

          • Bob

            I have got no problem with her telling her story. But to go on national TV, write a book and continuing to put herself in front of a camera or grant interviews, then complain about the fame. Sorry but that is when I call B.S.

    • golfingirl

      What she experienced was horrible, and nobody would wish that on even their worst enemy.

      Her “fame” was in large part due to her own choices. The publicity she received from appearing of national talk shows and writing a book were her decisions.

      Many people made money off her, including Dr. Phil and the publishers of the book.

      I wonder if when Dr. Phil booked her as a guest, to increase his ratings, he really did what was best for her?

      The other two girls, Amanda and Gina, have taken a different course for their recovery. Not saying one was better than the other, but with “fame” comes “complications”

      I really do think however, that the title of the article is a little misleading. The emphasis on the complications this has created, takes away from the good she has done for other victims.

      • luvmytoaster

        I respectfully disagree with your statement that “her fame was in large part due to her own choices”…..she did not choose to be kidnapped for 11 years, her choices begin now while she is free.

        • golfingirl

          I really do think a lot of people took advantage of her “fame” after she was released.

          Maybe her mental capacities did not allow her to make the best decisions for herself.

          I hope she continues healing and surrounds herself with those who support her, not want to cash in on her.

          • luvmytoaster

            I totally agree with you, it sounds as though she is recognizing and, so far, cutting off the very people who are only trying to attach themselves to her for her money.

          • golfingirl

            On Dr. Phil, he traded his “compassion” for her willingness to retell the horrors of her captivity.

            It was nothing but an exploitative transaction, masquerading as talk therapy, for the purpose of increasing ratings.

            Not sure if she realized what she was getting into to. But once you open that door, “fame” is a normal result, with all its “complications.”

            Have a great day…..

          • Razorback Twou

            Was Dr. Phil on the air 11yrs. ago?

          • golfingirl

            And your point is?

          • Razorback Twou

            She DIDN’T know what she was getting into.

          • golfingirl

            “Getting into” as in telling her story to the world on national television and drawing more attention to herself.

            Not “getting into,” as in being captured by that animal.

            I am sure Dr. Phil knew of the “complications” associated with any “fame,” however he disregarded this to put her on his show and help his ratings.

            Now she is left with the “complications,” of her fame, which people like Dr. Phil facilitated.

            This is what the article is about. How her fame has complicated her life. Nothing more.

            I am not saying in any way that she was responsible for what happened to her, but certainly she controlled her future after she was found and released.

            Her actions clearly increased her “fame.”

          • jz

            I don’t think Dr. Phil has or had any ulterior motives or disregard for her emotional well being. You are reading too much into that.

          • golfingirl

            Yes he was.

          • therest_ofthestory

            It has been said all along that she had diminished mental capacity…..she really should have someone with guardianship or administratorship over her. I think this will NOT end well for this poor girl…..her whole life has been a tragedy.

  • Daphena Madaris

    Shame on you for these nasty comments. This girl has been thru hell.. she tells her story so that others may know and realize exactly what can happen. MIchelle is a survivor.

    • Sean MacNair

      C’mon, this is the Chronicle-Telegram website. The comment section is home to anonymous a-holes who would leave nasty comments about Jesus Christ himself.

      • Joe Smith

        He says while leaving a nasty comment

        • Sis Delish
        • golfingirl

          Yeah….he called me a “nasty witch” above.

          I guess he is immune to his own criticism.

          • Joe Smith

            I was mostly just razzing him but it always struck me as funny when someone makes a comment like that while doing the same thing they are complaining about.
            Its like screaming at someone that the are being too loud or something

          • Bob

            What makes me chuckle to no end. When people get all bent out of shape because you opinion differs from their’s.

            But this douche use the B word in a comment section about a story that ran on People magazine’s website. Again the girls opinion differed from his.

            Guess this guy always has to be right.

          • golfingirl

            I think he just hates women.

          • Chan

            Bob I don’t think their are their real opinions. I get the feeling most comments are left for shock value. I guarantee if any of the negative commentators on here had a child go through this ordeal they would be singing a different tune.

      • tickmeoff

        Sean, don’t forget there is no true anonymity. There is always your IP address.

  • grannyof6

    Just saw Michelle Knight at the “Horseshoe Casino” yesterday about 4 p.m. sitting on the 2nd floor in the lounge area waiting for a drawing of some kind. She appeared comfortable, in good spirits and bubbly with a few of her friends. Thank God she escaped from the awful jerk! She’s doing what she wants to do and everyone has that right! Who cares who gives her money or how she lives her present life. It’s none of anyone’s business. You go girl!!

  • Chan

    The Chronicle needs to rethink allowing every story being commented on. Some of your lives must be awfully miserable.

    • Bob

      Chan we agree on a lot of things in this comment section. But I have call B.S. when I see it.

      She choose herself to write the book and go on tv. No one forced her to. Plus like I said, she is the only one I keep hearing about.

      • golfingirl

        The other two, Amanda and Gina, have gone quietly on with their lives.

        My understanding was that Michelle was “mildly retarded.”

        I think others have really taken advantage of her for personal gain.

        I wish her a full recovery and nothing but the best.

        • Chan

          That is simply not true, a few months ago both Gina and Amanda met the President . They are also both collectively working on a book.

          • golfingirl

            Did not know that. Thanks for the information.

          • Chan

            Glad you understood what I was saying because I sure in the heck didn’t…glad I was able to edit.

      • Chan

        Bob, when she decided to go watch the tearing down of Castro’s house it took me awhile to understand. This woman needs help and money. Where is she going to go to get a job? The money she is getting is nothing compared to the years of hell she lived. Her son taken away from, her family not looking for her for years. I hope that Dr. Phil or clinical psychologist is keeping in touch with her because she may never get over the suffering that he did to her. I like the fact that she is speaking out, he lured his away with something as simple a puppy. Makes me wonder who and what lured Amy Mihaljevic?

        • Bob

          Wait, “her son taken away from her”. What story were you reading?? She choose not to contact her son. No one forced her to abandon him.

          • Chan

            Actually her son was adopted while she was in captivity. Her son originally was taken by the state because of allegations of abuse by her step-father (if I’m not mistaken).

  • ekwaykway

    Announcing your new name, Lily Rose Lee, might not be the best way to anonimity and a normal life.

    • luvmytoaster


    • Chan

      I don’t think she actually says her name on the air. I watched her interview this morning on the news and she didn’t mention it. When the anchorwoman continued with the story back in the studio, that was the first I heard of the name change. Very well possible the name wasn’t to be disclosed.

      • golfingirl

        It was reported in the AP article, which is identical to this one.

        • Chan

          Again, the article was based off a live interview she gave and she didn’t mention on the air anything about her name change.

  • Rae Ingram

    Sad the comments here. She is not famous or a celebrity, just a little girl thru no fault of her own was put in this position. Her life changed forever. And Boob their is not enough money this girl could receive to make up for the torture she endured. She is a survivor, I bet most of these commentors would lose their mind in a similar situation. I had an instuctor who said human beings are the most blood thirsty animal. I have a friend who ordered her book ahead on Amazon she could not wait to hear any lurid details. Maybe if left alone her life will return to some normalcy.

    • Bob

      First off it is COMMENTATORS.

      I am a veteran of the first Gulf War. I have seen things that even that animal Ariel Castro didn’t think of. I have seen crimes against humanity that would give you nightmares for the rest of your life.

      And she is 33, far from being a little girl. Hell she was 21 (again not a little girl) when she was captured.

      And I am sure giving her new name in the interview, will grant her the privacy you want her to have.

      Yes she is a survivor. But I am sorry if I call B.S. whenever I see it.

      I guess because I have a penis. I am not allowed to voice my opinion on this happen to women. Right???

  • INavon

    I am also amazed a the mentality of some people here. Chan also pointed out that Amanda and Gina are writing a book, it’s just not out yet. Golf girl then responds “oh didnt know that.” Maybe some of you should realize there is info out there that you don’t know. Criticism of negative comments is just that, not arguing different opinions. All of the girls have been to events etc. MIchelle had a different history and stil has no close family etc. Maybe she needs to be open to heal herself. She has had a horrific thing happen to her on top of the terrible upbringing NONE of us should ever comment on her actions or motives.

    • Bob

      No close family???? Did you not read the story???????

      She has chosen to not reunite with her family or her OWN son. She that fact is all on her. I do not feel one bit sorry for her when it come to that issue.

      • INavon

        Still amazed. Your definition of “close” is apparently “immediate.” I meant close as in connected, true and sincere. I see why she would not want to see them again. As for her son, does it escape you that she would want to protect him a this young age from being caught up in this situation? Wen he is older maybe he can handle that this happened to his biological mother. You are the one who complained that people argue with you because of differing opinions, yet you chimed in on me to disagree without trying to understand her choices

        • Bob

          Exactly… HER CHOICES.

          I know what she went through for over 11 years was trouble. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.

          But from the time she was release from the hospital and up until now. EVERYTHING she did was by her OWN choice. Therefore, she is held accountable for the choices that she made. Good, bad or indifferent they were her decision.

          You want to speculate on why she made her choices. Unless you know her and have constant contact with her. How do you know what drove her to her decisions??

    • golfingirl

      And when I don’t know something, I admit it and thank the person for bringing it to my attention.

      Your words…”NONE of us should ever comment on her actions or motives.”

      No one is commenting on her actions, simply that if they cause “complications” in your life, maybe you should rethink your actions.

      Only she can change them.

      Everyone here agrees what happened to her was horrendous, we may just disagree on how she has handled it. Her business, but then don’t complain about how it has caused “complications.” Only she can change it!