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Tragedy to Triumph: Michelle Knight uses animals to move forward after house of horrors

A decade after escaping from captivity, the woman now known as Lily Rose Lee has a place where she has found happiness.

CLEVELAND — Ten years after the Miracle in Cleveland, Michelle Knight, who now goes by Lily Rose Lee, says she is happy and proud of the woman she’s become after being tortured by her captor Ariel Castro on Cleveland’s Seymour Avenue. Even through the house of horrors, she tells 3News' Laura Caso that she has found hope after torture and her true passion in life.

Her backyard is her safe haven – it is the place where she finds her happiness.

“I wasn’t able to look at the sky or the grass or flowers or watch the animals move about [for a decade and] being in this ambiance is pure joy,” said Lily Rose.

Ten years ago, Lily Rose says she couldn’t even dream of the peace she has found today. She was kidnapped at 21-years-old along with Amanda Berry and Gina De Jesus. The three young girls spent 11 years being tortured by their kidnapper Ariel Castro until the escape on May 6th, 2013. 

Before that, Lily Rose says she tried to escape at least six times.

“If I wasn’t chained up…the door was definitely locked to the point when I couldn’t get out [and] if he did the leave the door unlocked…there was always a gun waiting for me,” said Lily Rose. “Some days, I’d ask God if this is the only thing for me then please let me go because sometimes I couldn’t take it…but knowing that I was going to get out, kept me going.”

Lily Rose says the day that she escaped was the day her life started.

“I was 32 years old when I was rescued, and I tell everybody that – that is when my life began. For me it feels like a new journey every time and I’m moving forward.”

Watch Part 1 of Laura Caso's interview with Lily Rose Lee below:

Lily is moving forward with a new purpose by rescuing and rehabilitating animals. She started the non-profit ‘Unleashed Animal Rescue’ where she works around the clock to find the animals forever homes. Lily Rose says animals have rescued her just as much as she rescues them.

“I wrote in my notebook in the house that I was going to do something great with animals I didn’t know but god was going to lead the way with my head and my heart,” said Lily Rose.

Lily Rose says she witnessed constant animal abuse from Ariel Castro within the house of horrors.

“He brought animals into the house and he either starved them beat them and did harm to them in unimaginable ways and each one of them perished. The first time I actually tried to run is the time that he gave me a puppy and he broke the puppies neck right in front of me and then slammed me on the back of my neck. It was losing the only best friends that I had and every day of every hour I pray for that little one.”

Losing her puppy inspired her to never give up on the animals whom she cares for. For Lily Rose, the animals help her reflect in the best way - of what life was and what life can be when you are loved and protected.

“The greatest gift I can give that animal is the forever home they so desperately need,” said Lily Rose. “Today, I love everything about my life, the good and the bad because life is a handful of good and bad but it’s how you move forward.”

Watch Part 2 of Laura Caso's interview with Lily Rose Lee below:

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