One of the three Cleveland women held captive by Ariel Castro for about a decade has changed her name in an effort to avoid the unwelcome notoriety of the kidnapping.
In an interview with the Associated Press published Sunday, Michelle Knight, 33, said she was tired of strangers snapping her photo and old acquaintances asking for money, and she is hoping for normalcy.
Michelle Knight has been living under the name Lily Rose Lee since at least May, when she gave high-profile interviews to the “Today” show and People magazine.
Knight was 21 when she vanished in August 2002, after Castro lured her into his home. It became her dungeon until she was rescued May 6, 2013.
Knight was starved, beaten, raped and impregnated five times by Castro, who had also captured Gina DeJesus when she was 14 and Amanda Berry when she was 16 in the early 2000s.
The young women’s shocking rescue — and horrifying ordeals — turned them into unwilling global celebrities.
Knight wrote a bestselling memoir and received a $400,000 check from “Dr. Phil” McGraw, which has allowed her to afford her own apartment but which has also drawn hangers-on from her past whom she says have tried to befriend her for her money.
“You have to be careful every day because of the book and the money and the ‘it’ factor of who you are,” Knight told the Associated Press. “They’re not coming at me to be my friend. They want what I have.”
Knight told the wire service that she has made a clean break from her family, with whom she was not on good terms after a rough childhood before the kidnapping. Knight said she didn’t have plans to contact a biological son she’d had before the kidnapping — who doesn’t know she’s his mother — because she doesn’t want to disrupt his life.
Knight said she wanted to become a chef someday and maybe record music.
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