Gina DeJesus, one of the Cleveland women who was kidnapped and imprisoned for nearly a decade, apparently forgot her Spanish while she was in captivity.
A television reporter who had been covering the case since DeJesus went missing in April 2004, and who became a close friend of the DeJesus family, described a jovial scene inside the family’s Cleveland home a day after Gina was released from the hospital.
But a pale Gina DeJesus, now sporting a short haircut and looking nothing like her 14-year-old school picture splashed around the world, suddenly looked puzzled when a relative abruptly switched to Spanish, Lydia Esparra, a reporter for Cleveland’s WOIO Channel 9 who was invited inside the DeJesus home, told Fox News Latino.
“Mom, I don’t remember my Spanish,’” Gina DeJesus said, according to .
Esparra is apparently the only reporter who has been invited into the house by the DeJesus family. She covered almost all of Gina’s vigils while she was missing and said she felt a bond with the mother, Nancy Ruiz, since she was first put on the story. She also got to know the father.
“There was something about Nancy,” said Esparra, now a weekend anchor and reporter. “We connected from the very beginning.”
Esparra was at the home on Thursday covering the story with hundreds of reporters when the family saw her and invited her inside. She was inside for about five minutes, enough to see how comfortable Gina seemed, even though she’d essentially been tortured and held in confinement for almost a decade.
“It was like she’d never been missing. They all connected so quickly,” Esparra said. “Her father said she is feeling overwhelmed about everything, but at least she’s sleeping well.”
Esparra said she not only sees herself as a reporter on the story, but someone who tried to help them with their cause – to find their daughter. She covered most of Gina DeJesus’ vigils, and even kept mementos from each one that she still keeps on her desk.
She said when she entered the home she told a smiling Gina that her parents always had faith that she would be found alive.
“I told her that her parents never gave up hope. They never stopped trying to find her,” Esparra said. “She just smiled.”
Esparra said Nancy Ruiz has not celebrated Mother’s Day for nine years. This year, this Sunday, will be incredibly special.
“This is going to be her best Mother’s Day, it’s going to be so special,” Esparra said. “And I’m so happy for them.”