Rock Center   |  May 10, 2013

FBI agent immersed in Cleveland case reveals new details

The FBI agent who devoted herself to finding the women allegedly kidnapped by Ariel Castro and held captive in his Cleveland home describes meeting the women for the first time and reveals new details about their years in captivity and the little girl who was born in Castro’s house of horrors. NBC News’ Lester Holt reports.

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>>> in the very early stages of earning just what went on in that house in cleveland , ohio, for a decade. we're goinging to start off here tonight with two reports that break some new ground in this investigation, beginning with the fbi agent who devoted years of the disappearance of these young women of her own life. she's now watched their cases come full circle , and tonight for the first time anywhere, she describes to lester holt what those first hours and days of freedom were like.

>> we all looked for them. we had those pictures everywhere. so to see them was just a tremendous experience.

>> reporter: special agent vicki anderson of the fbi 's cleveland division was at the hospital to greet the newly freed victims earlier this week. i'm just curious what their impression was of seeing the outside world , if, in fact, they've not been out for ten years, how did they react to everything happening around them?

>> i think a lot of times they were kind of speechless. you could see on their face. they're just all smiles. they're hugging their family, and they're just hugging and crying.

>> reporter: anderson has been with the fbi for 14 years. at one time she was immersed in the hunt for the missing girls. anderson knows gina and amanda's faces practically as well as her own.

>> i tried to just tell them, you know, i'm just so happy to see you. i'm sure they were looking at me like who are you?

>> reporter: anderson was there again when amanda berry went home to her family, taking her 6-year-old daughter with her, the child who was born in captivity , the child who has been locked up ever since until this week. how is she taking in all this activit activity?

>> she's a cutie. she's a cutie. and you know, i think she just doesn't have an understanding, and it will be really interesting what her mother explains to her as she grows up.

>> reporter: she's the fourth captive. anderson is careful not to reveal too much about her. this young girl has clearly had an emotional week. she met a lot of stranger, many of them relatives. she was trusting of these people she'd never met?

>> yeah, she saw mom. she saw mom hugging her sister and she had seen her aunt at the hospital. so she now knew that individual, and so i think she felt very comfortable in the home that she was brought to, plus mom was there.

>> reporter: today authorities set preliminary dna testing confirmed ariel castro is the little girl 's father. but as for her life in captivity, only a few details have emerged. she didn't go to school.

>> she didn't go to school.

>> reporter: as far as you know, had no other relationships outside that house ?

>> correct, correct. there were no playmates. there was nothing. there were no regular interactions with people.

>> reporter: musician ricky sanchez was one outsider who did meet the girl. sanchez says he often practiced with ariel castro , a bass guitarist at the seymour avenue house . sanchez said he was just there last week and saw the little girl .

>> that little girl show up, and then when he saw her coming towards me, he said, well, this is my granddaughter. he introduced her as his granddaughter.

>> reporter: sanchez says there were many locks on the door.

>> when i tried to open the door , there were so many locks in there. one turn to the left, one turn to the right. i was confused.

>> reporter: the week brought gruesome details about what happened behind locked doors at the house on seymour. the police report quotes the victims as saying castro drove them to his house where he chained them up in the basement, eventually moving them upstairs to the second floor. ed tomba is a cleveland deputy police chief . they were physically restrained?

>> yes, yes.

>> reporter: did they have any freedom of movement , bathroom, kitchen, basic movement within the house ?

>> it appears that they did. the house is very small, but as far as freedom, freedom of movement in the house , but you know, nowhere else.

>> reporter: like a prison?

>> yes.

>> reporter: movement within but --

>> but nothing on the outside.

>> reporter: cleveland tv reporter lydia esparra saw the effects of imprisonment on gina dejesus. she was at the family home right after gina returned.

>> she's thin. she has short hair. and i think a little pale maybe because she's number a basement for nine long years, not enough vitamin d. but she looks healthy, she looks happy.

>> reporter: the police report says the captives were only allowed out of the house and only in the backyard in wigs and sunglasses and had to keep their heads down. but those excursions outside the home rarely happened.

>> they went outside maybe twice, maybe twice and only to the garage.

>> reporter: neighbors tell a different story. this man lives a few doors down. he said that in 2011 his sister saw a woman holding a child in the house and banging on the window for help.

>> so i called the cops. 20 minutes later the cops pull up, they pounded a good 20 times. they were there five, eight minutes, like that no answer. they shine a light in the driveway, seen the windows were boarded up, they got back inside the squad car and left.

>> reporter: there were other reports of neighbors' sightings. some bizarre.

>> those were rumors going around.

>> reporter: no sightings of women in chains.

>> absolutely not.

>> reporter: nobody banging on windows?

>> absolutely not.

>> reporter: you've asked the confirms themselves?

>> yes, we have. and they confirm that.

>> reporter: the fbi has faced pointed questions this week, too. the agency worked closely with the cleveland police during the investigation, and at one point agents ran across the name ariel castro . castro 's daughter arlene was good friends with gina dejis. she was with gina shortly before gina was abducted. the fbi talked to ariel castro 's daughter arlene. her mother, his ex-wife, determined that he'd been abuse abusive to her based on his statements, but he wasn't spoken to.

>> no, not that i'm aware of.

>> reporter: will that be seen in the rear-view mirror as a missed opportunity?

>> well, sure, we're all sitting there saying, okay, why didn't we talk to him? nothing led us to talk to him. you know, there were no indications that we should go talk to him. we talked to people that she had seen that day, that we had knowledge of her seeing. we canvassed the neighborhood. we did all of those things. nothing led us to ariel castro .

>> reporter: until this week when everything did. ariel castro has been charged with four counts of kidnapping, three of rape, law enforcement sources have told the nbc affiliate in cleveland , wkyc that castro has described himself as cold blooded . he appeared cocky during questioning, the sources say, showing no remorse.

>> let us give thanks unto god for the miracle --

>> reporter: as people rallied in support of the freed women last night, prosecutors said other charges may be pending against castro .

>> lester holt starting off our broadcast tonight from cleveland . and