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(NECN/NBC News: Jay Gray) - City crews in Cleveland are demolishing what has been described as a house of horrors. The home where Ariel Castro held and tortured three young women for nearly 10 years has been destroyed as the victims and the city continue to try and move forward.
Bulldozers and backhoes began tearing-away the walls of this house early Wednesday morning and many hope they will help to tear away at least some of the pain of what happened here.
Michelle Knight, the woman held captive inside this home the longest, returned this morning with yellow balloons and a message of hope.
"I wanted to be here today because no one was there for me when I was missing and I want the people out there including the mothers that they can have strength, they can have hope," Knight said.
As a backhoe took the first swipe at the house, Gina Dejesus' aunt, Peggy Arida, was in the cab.
"This evil house went down and now this community can live," said Arida.
Dejesus, Knight and Amanda Berry were held captive and tortured by Ariel Castro inside the home for nearly a decade.
"For 10 years, this house was a secret prison of a psychopath named Castro,” said prosecutor Tim McGinty. “He will sit in the bowels of prison the rest of his days."
Castro pleaded guilty to 937 charges, including: rape, assault and aggravated murder. He was sentenced to life in prison plus a thousand years.
It's only expected to take a day to tear the house down.
Of course, it will take a lot longer for the scars from what happened here to heal but the work here is another important step in that difficult journey.
Now for many, a big part of that healing process will be what happens with this property now. The city has said it will leave it up to the victims in this community and many have said they would like to see a memorial park established.