Altoona woman attended high school with rescued Cleveland woman - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Altoona woman attended high school with rescued Cleveland woman


Altoona (WQOW) - An Altoona woman says she is relieved the three women, held captive for ten years at a Cleveland home, were found safe. She says she knows two of them. 

Altoona resident, Deborah Maldonado, says, "It hits home, it really does, to know that these girls...It could have been any of us. It really could have."

Maldonado grew up in Cleveland and says she attended John Marshall High School with Amanda Berry. "I saw her every day, she lived on the street behind me. She was very nice, very sweet."

In April 2003, Berry went missing after leaving her job at Burger King..."It all happened down Lorain Avenue, which is a very busy street. I mean the street is like, say Clairemont," says Maldonado.

She says she had a scary experience of her own on that road, "I was going down Lorain by the library and a man in a silver car pulled up and was like, "Get in the car". I'm like, "I'm not getting in the car with you, I don't know you." But again, nobody, there's cars pulling up, there's cars across the street. Nobody will even pay attention. It's kind of mind your own business, that's the type of atmosphere."

She says that atmosphere could be the reason no one found the three girls sooner. "Maybe nobody wanted to know, I don't know for sure if it's really that possible to not hear something. The houses in Cleveland are very old, they're not sound proof," says Maldonado.  

As a parent, Maldonado says you can't ever be too safe. "Make sure that they know the difference of, what are people allowed to do or say to me? I'd rather take the time out of my day to be overprotective than to have ten years of misery not knowing what has happened to my child."

Maldonado says her family moved from Cleveland when she was 16 years old.  She moved to the Eau Claire area from Florida last year.

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