When Gina DeJesus went missing, I thought right away, wow, there’s gotta be a connection here because they went missing a year apart, in April … That stood out. They’re the same height. They lived in the same general neighborhood. And I talked to the detectives, I said, You don’t think they might be … ? You know, maybe I watch too much cop shows on TV, I’m not a cop … And they said, Well, we’re checking it out, but so far nothing has connected them.

So I tried my best as a journalist to — you know, I didn’t want to sensationalize something and make something be there that wasn’t … I mean I suggested it in a column. But I know my editors were even like, Let’s not be alarmist. You know, if they’re saying there’s no connection, we can’t really say there is.

The problem is, we never knew about Michele Knight. I never even heard her name until they rescued her Monday. And as a journalist, I’m appalled. How could I not know? You know, if we had known three women were missing in the same area, I hate to say it but they always say, you know, more than two is a trend. Once you have three things happen, it’s a pattern.

I think if we’d have known there was a third in the same area, we would’ve have jumped all over this as a serial something. A killer or kidnapping or whatever. But the police categorize missing persons differently when they’re different ages, and that’s something I think we’ve got to change. And that’s something as journalists I think we can kind of beat the drum on. To make a difference.

On finding out that Berry and DeJesus were alive:

I was sitting in a restaurant Monday night, my husband was checking his emails and said, “Hey, you’re not gonna believe this. They found Amanda Berry.” And he goes, “Alive.” I’m like, “What?” I nearly fell out of my chair. And he goes, “She’s with Georgina DeJesus,” and I’m like, “There’s no, I mean, no way!” And then he goes, “There’s a third one,” and I’m like, “Holy you-know-what.” Like, oh my God, I nearly just fell out of the chair. Somebody had all — they had three women? And I knew Amanda had been missing 10 years. Ten years! So I think what happened was we were experiencing total joy and shock, and then the heartache set in for me, thinking of Louwana and all those days. Imagine the worst day of your life and then repeat it every day for three years. That’s how she lived. Until she died.

… And I keep thinking of Louwanna, like, God, she must — I mean, if you can know from the beyond what’s going on — wow, how ecstatic and yet how heartbreaking to know all these horrible things that happened to her daughter.

After Miller’s death, Brett wrote once more about Berry, in 2009, saying “it weighed me down carrying Amanda in my heart”:

I never stopped thinking about her.

 

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Sara Morrison is a former assistant editor at CJR. Follow her on Twitter @saramorrison.