For Gina DeJesus’ mother, tears still come easy even after 10 years

Published: May. 4, 2023 at 4:42 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) -When you ask Nancy Ruiz, to think back to May 6, 2013, the day her daughter Gina DeJesus escaped from almost 10 years of captivity, her eyes well up with tears.

“I never lost hope, never gave up my faith,” Nancy said.

Gina went missing in April of 2004.

Her family, including her mother, did everything they could from rallies to passing out missing fliers during the time Gina was missing.

“Because I knew she was still alive,” Nancy told us. “Then is was a fight. Because then I learned I would never accept a no, because I need to get her picture out there. I needed information. So I did everything I had to do no matter what it was.”

Nancy admits there were mistakes along the way.

Like putting the family’s home phone number on the first flyer.

A move that was disastrous after calls from all kinds of people started.

It wasn’t until May 6th, that Ruiz’s faith would be rewarded.

Believe it or not the afternoon DeJesus, Amanda Berry and Michelle Knight were found Nancy was just two blocks away from the home on Seymour Avenue, at her sister’s home.

Yes, for years Nancy and family drove right by the very home Gina was being held captive in, countless times.

Nancy remembers the day she was found, clearly.

For her it started with a lot of noise and commotion on Seymour.

Her sister came into the house and told Nancy they needed to go, that they found three girls in the basement of the house down the street.

But her sister never said, it was Gina.

It wasn’t until Nancy saw the police tape, and the detectives and FBI agents she knew from her daughter’s case that she put it together.

“That’s when I ran and I lift up the tape, and I ran right through it and I ran right into them and I said, ‘Just please tell me that it’s her and that she’s ok?’”

With tears in his eyes the FBI agent told Nancy it was her and that she was alive.

Ruiz was then rushed to a nearby police squad car and taken to MetroHealth Medical Center where Gina was being checked out.

“So I ran up to her and I had to pat her down,” Nancy said of the first moment she saw Gina there in the hospital. “I had to make sure. It’s like when you first have your child you’re checking five fingers, the toes, the legs everything and that’s exactly what I did to her.”

The first words from Gina said to her mother validated all that work, all those fliers, all the times family went looking.

“‘I have something to show you mom,’” Nancy recalls with tears coming down both cheeks our interview. “Then she, she showed me the flier that she decorated. She put butterflies and flowers. And it was a flier that I gave to Ariel Castro one Saturday.”

Castro had been a family friend who attended rallies.

The same man who held their daughter in that house of horrors.

“Ohh, he went straight home and gave it to her and made fun of me telling her, ‘Yeah your mom’s back out on street giving out fliers. Here’s one of the fliers.’”

Gina kept that flier and as Nancy said she decorated it and gave it to her mother right there in the hospital.

“And that’s what kept her hope stronger because she knew we were still out there and looking for her and doing things,” Nancy said.

As you might imagine Nancy still has the decorated flier.

Hope in the form of a piece of paper.